Cocktails, beer, wine, and hard liquors are served all over the U.S. and the world, so the opportunity to drink is always present. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted in 2018, “an estimated 139.8 million Americans aged 12 or older were current alcohol users.”
Perhaps so many people have tried it at least once because alcohol is legal to sell and enjoy to those of legal age, 21. Its widespread acceptance and use means it is up to each adult to determine how much they want to drink. Some people will set personal limits on how much alcohol they can handle while others won’t think much about it and see what happens.
Drinking an adult beverage will not be a problem for many people. But not everyone who decides to drink will know when to stop, say no, or realize when their drinking has crossed the line into excessive alcohol use. Usually, when alcohol addiction has set in, it will interrupt lives, disrupt daily routines, and ruin relationships. Still, even all of these changes will not make the people experiencing them stop using alcohol.
If you have become dependent on alcohol getting you through the day, the night, or a rough time, your drinking may be in the stages of becoming problematic, and even dangerous to you and those around you. Entering an alcohol rehab is an option in Pennsylvania, and it may just be the one you or your loved one needs to become sober and heal from alcohol abuse.
Pennsylvania Alcohol Rehab Statistics
In the Keystone State, people across adult age groups enjoy their spirits. The Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs’ data dashboard shows just how much, as it tracks alcohol use statewide.
According to its data, binge drinking, when a person drinks a lot of alcohol in a short time, is more prevalent in the state than chronic drinking, and this trend appears to be consistent across the years from 2011 through 2018, the latest year for which information is available.
Data also reveal that during this seven-year period, drinking patterns among Pennsylvanians in the 18-44 age group are consistently higher than drinking among people ages 45-64 and age 65 and older. It is safe to say that some people who go on to develop alcohol use disorder started with binge drinking, a practice that could be the start of alcohol addiction.
Why Drinking Too Much is Risky
Filling up on liquor to the point of being impaired will make few people look or think twice. Getting “tipsy” or flat out drunk is just as commonplace as drinking alcohol is, which makes it harder to recognize when someone is struggling with an alcohol addiction that can turn deadly at any time.
This casual attitude toward alcohol consumption is among the reasons many people miss when heavy or frequent drinking is problematic and health risk. But the signs are clear—failing to control one’s alcohol intake is dangerous, and as the heavy drinking continues, the effects of that behavior will become harder to ignore.
Alcohol is a legal substance, but it is also a drug, something that is easily forgotten because of how much it is used. Alcohol addiction is also known as alcoholism or the formal term “alcohol use disorder” (AUD for short). Nearly 16 million people in the U.S. have AUD, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
A medical professional is qualified to diagnose AUD. They likely will consult the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM–5), before making a formal diagnosis. According to DSM-5 says AUD is characterized by an established, repeated pattern of problematic drinking of alcohol that causes distress or injury within one year. AUD can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on how many criteria apply.
More On Binge Drinking
As mentioned earlier, data show that binge drinking is popular in Pennsylvania. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also supports this, which shows 18.5 percent of residents in the state reported binge drinking in 2015.
To be clear, binge drinking is the practice of consuming alcoholic drinks that raise one’s blood-alcohol concentration to 0.08 g/dL. People who do this usually drink anywhere from four to five drinks or more within two hours, depending on their age, weight, and sex. It is important to note that all alcoholic drinks are not equal. What counts as one standard drink depends on the drink and how much alcohol content is in it, according to the NIAAA.
Problematic drinking also threatens physical safety, too. An estimated 88,000 people in the United States are harmed in events involving excessive alcohol use. Drinking while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs can compromise safety and even people’s lives.
Overdrinking can also bring the following problems:
- Alcohol poisoning
- Diseases related to alcohol use (e.g., cancers of the mouth, throat, colon, liver, and breast)
- Sexually transmitted diseases/infections
- Physical intimate partner violence
- Sexual violence
- Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
Drugs Are Commonly Used With Alcohol
Some alcohol-related overdose deaths involve other drugs in addition to alcohol. Combining alcohol with other drugs, such as opioids, benzodiazepines, stimulants, and other substances, is common, and users mix them on purpose or by accident. When done intentionally, users find that using one drug can make another one stronger or counter its adverse effects.
For example, a person may mix alcohol with cocaine to shake off anxiety or paranoia. However, mixing these two drugs can lead a person to take more of a drug than they should because the alcohol has numbed the effects of the cocaine.
In the case of using alcohol with opioid drugs, such as heroin and fentanyl, and other depressants, both drugs can intensify each other’s effects and lead to an overdose on small amounts of each drug.
How Alcohol Rehab Can Help
An inability to be responsible with alcohol or exercise control when drinking could be a sign of a developing alcohol use disorder. If you have tried to slow down or stop drinking alcohol but find you are struggling to do so, alcohol rehab at an accredited facility may be the next step for you.
Alcohol use disorder is severe use of alcohol, and trying to manage it outside of medical help can be challenging to do. If you think your alcohol use has turned into AUD, getting help as soon as possible is critical. A quality rehab program designed to help you stop excessive alcohol use might be the only way to free yourself from harmful drinking patterns. You can find rehab programs throughout Pennsylvania that help people get clear on why they drink and why they need to stop. The therapies employed in these programs teach rehab clients how to recognize when triggers can lead to having a relapse and how to respond to stressful situations in a healthy way.
Rehab also helps people in repairing relationships that have become strained as a result of alcohol addiction. After treatment ends, there are aftercare programs that offer support to people who are rejoining society. These programs offer transitional housing and employment opportunities, as well as support groups of people in recovery who can offer encouragement to stay focused on one’s sobriety goals.
How alcohol rehab begins depends on a person’s unique needs and situation. Medical professionals will perform an assessment of the person being admitted into a facility to determine what level of care a person needs as they start treatment, as outlined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine. If the situation is severe, medical detoxification is likely the first stage.
This process allows a person to regain stability and go through alcohol withdrawal as safely and comfortably as possible. Around-the-clock monitoring helps to ensure that healthcare professionals will be on hand in case any emergencies occur during the detox time.
Any placement on the spectrum should serve the unique needs and preferences of the person receiving treatment so they will have the best chance to recover from an addiction to alcohol. Treatment and recovery, as explained by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, can be successful and should last as long as it is needed to reach full-time sobriety.