Many people enjoy an alcoholic beverage at home, but can home drinking lead to alcoholism? That’s what we’re here to discuss.
An article in The Guardian explored the links between home drinking and alcoholism – and suggested that the increase in people drinking from home is a factor in the increase of alcoholism.
Read on to learn more about the links between alcohol addiction, alcohol abuse, and home drinking – and to learn about alcohol use disorder (e.g alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction) in more detail. After all, learning about addiction is the first step toward getting help.
Alcohol is a drink that should be enjoyed in moderation – around 2 billion people around the globe consume alcohol, and over 76 million people around the world are affected by alcohol use disorders such as alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence.
According to the NHS and the UK Government, the recommendations regarding alcohol consumption are to drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week (spread across the span of three or more days). 14 units equal six pints of 4% beer or 6 medium glasses of wine.
It’s important to stick to these guidelines to lower the risk of alcohol-related damage to your health – your physical health and your mental health. Although there is no level of drinking that is completely safe, it’s important to drink in moderation – and to drink mindfully.
Alcohol abuse is a form of alcohol use disorder (AUD). AUD is a medical condition that is characterised by a lack of control over alcohol use, despite the negative effects on your health, relationships, or career.
Abusing alcohol is a dangerous drinking pattern that can involve binge drinking. Although people who abuse alcohol might drink alcohol once or twice a week, they may consume a dangerous amount of alcohol during that time.
In fact, people who abuse alcohol often drink so much alcohol in a short period of time that it causes physical damage in both the short term and the long term.
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Alcohol abuse and binge drinking can increase the chances of developing alcohol poisoning, which is also referred to as an alcohol overdose.
Alcohol poisoning occurs when you have an excessive amount of alcohol in your bloodstream. This can affect certain areas of your brain that control life-supporting functions – for example, your temperature, breathing, and heart rate.
Alcohol poisoning should be considered a medical emergency as it can be very dangerous – so if you think that you or a loved one is affected by alcohol poisoning, seek help from a medical professional.
Some common signs of alcohol poisoning include vomiting, seizures, confusion, slowed-down breathing, pale skin, cold and clammy skin, and loss of consciousness.
Millions of people in Britain are causing themselves damage by abusing alcohol at home, with figures of higher-risk alcohol consumption having dramatically risen throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
At the end of 2021, YouGov surveys found that 18.1% of adults in England were drinking alcohol at ‘increasing or higher risk’ – which is roughly the same as eight million people. This figure has risen dramatically since February 2020 – which was at around 12.4% (roughly six million people).
Part of the reason for this dramatic increase in problematic home drinking could be down to the pandemic – where pubs were closed and more and more people were at home.
Drinking at home comes with essentially no regulations or restrictions – there is no closing time and you won’t stop being served for being too drunk. Drinking sessions at home can last much longer than in a pub, meaning that your blood-alcohol levels would be much higher.
Professionals can determine higher-risk drinking by using the alcohol use disorders identification test. This test asks questions about drinking habits – looking at how many units people drink in a single session, how often people drink, and how their drinking affects their life.
In 2022, it can be said that there is a lack of social pressure to drink sensibly and drink in moderation. Historically, attempts to control drinking were made by using methods such as raiding the price of drinks in bars and implementing earlier closing times – however, this wasn’t effective.
Instead, people are more likely to drink at home, where drinking is not at all regulated, so people tend to drink too much alcohol.
Pub drinking is considered social drinking – going to the pub is a social occasion where you chat with friends, and alcohol just happens to be a part of it. The main objective of going to the pub is usually not to get drunk, but to socialise.
In the UK, pubs have been a place to gather and have fun for centuries and are considered a part of British culture.
When you drink in the pub, you know whether you’re having a small, medium, or a large glass of wine – like you know if you’re having a single or double measure of alcohol.
However, when you drink at home, the lines can get blurred and one small glass of wine can turn into a bottle or two quickly. You’re likely to drink more at home than you would in the pub, and it can be cheaper to do so.
If you have a physical dependence on alcohol, then you’ll likely experience physical withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking or lower the amount you usually drink. As well as physical withdrawal symptoms, you could also experience mental withdrawal symptoms such as periods of anxiety or depression.
Some people may not be aware that they are dependent on alcohol until they try to stop and begin craving alcohol and experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
One of the reasons that alcohol can be so addictive is because of the GABA effects. GABA is a neurotransmitter that can leave you feeling calm and relaxed after drinking alcohol.
Alcohol decreases glutamate, which lowers your excitability levels. Your body gets used to these changes – so If you drink alcohol on a regular basis, your body will produce less GABA and more glutamate – leaving you wanting to drink more alcohol to feel good.
This is one of the reasons why quitting alcohol ‘cold turkey’ can be difficult – your body will produce less GABA and more glutamate, leaving you feeling restless, hyperactive, shaky, and anxious.
The withdrawal symptoms you experience when detoxing from alcohol can vary, but the general rule of thumb is that the more severe your alcohol addiction, the worse the withdrawal symptoms will be.
Some of the main physical withdrawal symptoms you may experience when detoxing from alcohol include:
As well as physical withdrawal symptoms, you may experience mental withdrawal symptoms/ psychological withdrawal symptoms. For example, trouble sleeping, anxiety, hallucinations, and periods of depression.
The symptoms you experience may gradually improve over the span of a few days, but for some people, it can take longer. The length of time the withdrawal symptoms can stick around can depend on a variety of factors – e.g your addiction history, weight, and height.
A supervised detox (medical detox) with medical professionals can be a great way of managing the alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and you may be offered detox medication to ease the withdrawal.
It can be too easy to get into the habit of home drinking, whether you have a few beers after work or enjoy a bottle of wine or two over the weekend. However, there can be many negative consequences to drinking from home in excess.
If you’re looking to cut down on home drinking, you could try measuring the amount of alcohol you drink by using a measuring cup, jug, or even a kitchen weighing scale.
This can let you know how much you’re drinking. You can even purchase unit measuring cups that let you know how many units you’re drinking.
Knowing how much you are drinking is key to regulating and controlling your alcohol use when drinking from home.
After all, it’s easy to overpour your spirits or pour extra-large glasses of wine at home, whereas in a pub, bar or restaurant, you’re more aware of the measurements you’re drinking.
If wine is your go-to alcohol at home, be mindful of the glass you use. Wine glasses come in all shapes and sizes these days, and you can even find wine glasses that fit a whole bottle of wine.
Try sticking to your traditional wine glasses so you know exactly how much you’re drinking, and don’t underestimate the amount in your glass.
Instead of finishing the bottle, invest in a bottle stopper. You may feel the need to finish the bottle because it won’t keep – but if you store it correctly, then it’s sure to last longer and you won’t need to finish the bottle.
Another way of cutting down on home drinking is allocating certain days to go drink-free. Instead of drinking, try out new activities such as baking or playing games, or seeing friends and family.
Alternatively, why not try low-alcohol or no-alcohol drinks? In 2022, there are more no-alcohol alternatives than ever – whether it be alcohol-free spirits, wines, beers, and of course, cocktails.
Alternatively, if you think you are addicted to alcohol and can’t stop or control your alcohol consumption, you may want to consider alcohol rehab.
At Help4Addiction, we can find the right rehab centre for you. Our dedicated team will take the time to listen to your story, requirements and preferences to find the best place for you to undergo your rehabilitation journey.
Alcohol rehab begins with detox, which means you’ll have no access to alcohol while your body frees itself of the addiction. Detoxification deals with the physical aspect of addiction.
During this stage, you may experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms – which is why many rehab centres offer alcohol rehab on an inpatient basis with medical assistance.
The next stage of alcohol rehab involves therapy – different rehab clinics offer different therapies, but here are some of the main forms of therapy in alcohol rehab:
The aim of therapy in rehab is to build your confidence and give you a further understanding of your addiction – for example, the root causes of your addiction as well as your triggers.
After therapy, you may wish to move on to secondary treatment, also known as aftercare. Secondary treatment aims at easing the transition from rehab back to your normal life, as well as preventing relapse. You may attend support groups such as Alcohol Anonymous, or attend group therapy or counselling.
Contact us today to discuss how we can help you beat your alcohol addiction, and to get the ball rolling on the admissions process.
Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV. He is the founder and CEO of a drug and alcohol rehab center called Help4addiction, which was founded in 2015. He has been clean himself since 2009 and has worked in the Addiction and Rehab Industry for over a decade. Nick is dedicated to helping others recover and get treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. In 2013, he released a book ‘The Thin White’ line that is available on Amazon.
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