Beer Addiction And Treatment Options

Beer addiction is an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), meaning drinking beer is habitual and results in physical dependence and tolerance. Treatment is necessary because drinking too much beer can cause detrimental health and behavior problems.

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Beer Addiction Is Alcoholism

People may not think of beer as dangerous or addictive, but the amount of liquid in a can or glass has little to do with the amount of alcohol found inside. One standard drink in the United States is defined as having 14 grams of alcohol. The average 12 oz beer typically contains around 5% alcohol by volume (ABV). This is the same amount of alcohol found in a glass of wine and shot or spirit of liquor.

Do not be fooled by the type of alcohol you consume; beer addiction is alcoholism.

Beer addiction, like alcoholism, is a chronic brain disease that affects a person’s ability to control or stop drinking beer. It can range from mild to severe, and a person drinking too much beer will likely develop a tolerance (the need to drink more to feel intoxicated) and a physical dependence (experience physical discomfort when they stop).

Beer contributes to an overwhelming alcohol problem in the United States, with over 25% of the population (18 or older) drinking heavily or too much. 15.1 million adults suffer from Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), meaning they abuse or are dependent on alcohol, beer included.

Drinking beer in excessive amounts on a regular basis can lead to addiction. Once addicted to beer, the person is likely to show various signs and symptoms of abuse.

Signs And Symptoms Of Beer Addiction

Beer affects the brain, and impairments caused by alcohol can show up in a person after having as little as two drinks. A person suffering from beer addiction is likely to exhibit symptoms or side effects of alcohol more regularly than casual or social beer drinkers.

Symptoms of beer addiction include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty walking
  • Impaired memory
  • Slowed reaction time

Drinking too much beer is also likely to cause problems at work or school and in personal relationships or social activities. It may change the way a person thinks or feels, and make them behave belligerently, with a singular focus on drinking beer and getting drunk.

A person may be suffering from beer addiction if they relate to any of the following signs:

  • End up drinking more beer than intended
  • Tried to stop drinking beer, but couldn’t
  • Spend lots of time drinking beer or feeling ill from it
  • Crave drinking beer
  • Drinking beer often interferes with life at home, work, or school
  • After drinking beer, they engage in accident-prone activities (driving, swimming, being physical)
  • Drink beer in the morning to combat a hangover
  • Have to drink more beer to feel the effects
  • Experienced a blackout from drinking beer, but continued to drink more anyway

If a person experiences any of the above signs, they may be struggling with beer addiction. At this stage, it is paramount to seek treatment right away. Drinking too much beer, too often, can be dangerous for your health and increase your risk of injury.

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Dangers Of An Addiction To Beer

Binge drinking is a dangerous sign of beer addiction and is defined as having several beers in a short period of time. For men, having 5 or more drinks in 2 hours (4 or more drinks for women) is considered binge drinking.

Binge drinking beer is common for college students, and can be very dangerous because of blackout and memory loss. In a survey of nearly 800 students, over 50% admitted to experiencing a blackout at some point in their lives, while 40% said they blacked out from drinking within the last year.

It is troubling that many of the students later learned they had engaged in dangerous activities while they were blacked out, including driving, vandalism, and unprotected sex. Besides the dangers of memory loss, drinking beer is also likely to pose long term health risks.

When a person drinks too much beer, the alcohol may detrimentally affect several organs in the body. Alcohol is absorbed by the stomach and small intestine, then eventually broken down in the liver where it releases toxins. In short, too much of these toxins are likely to damage the liver and brain, potentially resulting in brain damage.

Overtime, beer addiction can cause a severe brain disorder after years of excessive drinking. Symptoms of this disorder range from less severe to potentially life-threatening, and include depression, anxiety, shortened attention span, mood and personality changes, coordination problems, sleep disturbances, coma, and death.

Beer addiction’s effects on the brain and body can be severe, yet to stop drinking beer abruptly can be just as dangerous. Once physically dependent on beer or alcohol, a person is likely to experience adverse symptoms of withdrawal.

Beer Addiction Withdrawal And Detox

Symptoms of withdrawal caused by beer addiction can be uncomfortable and painful, and can set in anytime between 8 and 72 hours after drinking the last beer.

Symptoms of withdrawal may include sensing things that are not there, shakiness, irritability, trouble sleeping, depression, anxiety, restlessness, sweating, nausea, vomiting, and nightmares.

The more beer a person drinks, the more likely they are to experience severe withdrawal that may require medical attention. Severe withdrawal can cause delirium tremors, which means the person may experience agitation, fever, headache, severe confusion, hallucinations, and seizures.

When severe withdrawal sets in from beer addiction, the person must seek a medically supervised detoxification, or detox. Medically supervised detox is a form of treatment that allows medical professionals to administer other drugs during the detoxification process to help ease the discomfort of withdrawal.

Medically supervised detox is not a cure for beer addiction, but is typically the first step in treatment. The treatment options that follow must incorporate a variety of therapies and methods, and it is vital to understand them and know which will work best for the afflicted individual.

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Treating Beer Addiction And AUD

Understanding the different beer addiction treatment options is crucial to the process of dealing with addiction. Generally speaking, there are three very broad types of treatments available to treat an AUD: mutual-support groups, medications, and behavioral treatments.

Mutual-support groups are commonly considered when it comes to beer addiction. These include groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other 12-step programs that provide a safe environment to share intimate experiences with peers grappling with addiction.

Medications may be used to help people stop or cut back on their drinking, and may help down the line to prevent future relapse. Currently, there are three medications typically prescribed to treat an AUD like beer addiction, and include Naltrexone, Acamprosate, and Disulfiram.

Behavioral treatments for beer addiction involve working with professionals to change attitudes and thinking about beer and alcohol. Of the variety of behavioral treatments available, most include core attributes including:

  • Working on skills to reduce drinking
  • Building a strong and dependable social support system
  • Setting attainable goals
  • Learning how to cope or avoid triggers that may cause relapse

There is no single option that works for everyone, and successful treatment may incorporate each of these methods. They are all likely to be found in inpatient treatment centers, the most effective avenue of treatment for beer addiction and other AUDs. Inpatient treatment centers provide a stable environment, constant care, and all the tools needed to overcome and manage the lifelong disease of addiction.

 


Sources

NIAAA – Alcohol Facts and Statistics: Definitions
NIAAA – Alcohol Alert: Blackouts and Memory Losses
NIAA – Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Signs of an Alcohol Problem, Options for Treatment
MedlinePluse – Alcohol Withdrawal
CDC – Alcohol and Public Health FAQs

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