Alcoholism, Alcohol Abuse and Treatment Options in Washington State

Alcohol abuse and alcoholism continue to run rampant in the State of Washington.

Treatment is available to help, but many people do not realize that they should consider going to rehab. Some type of support is necessary, and more often than not, the best option is professional treatment.

The reality is that alcoholism is a disease, and it is one that does not go away on its own. It only gets worse as time goes on. There are so many people in Washington State who are alcoholics, but they just do not realize it. It can be relatively silent until it begins to destroy a person’s life, little by little.

More people need to be made aware of the dangers of alcohol. Sadly, it is considered “safer” simply because it is legal for adults to purchase it. But it is a drug, and drinking excessively ruins lives every single year in Washington. The good news is that treatment is available for anyone who needs it.

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Alcoholism Statistics and Facts in the United States

Alcoholism is a serious problem in the U.S., and it has been for quite some time. Once you see the alcohol statistics in our country, it's easy to see that something needs to change.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that:

  • In 2015, more than 86% of everyone ages 18 or older has had at least one drink.
  • More than 70% reported drinking at some point during the last year.
  • 56% of people report drinking at some point during the last month.
  • During that same year, close to 27% of people admitted to binge drinking during the last month.
  • 7% admitted that they had drank heavily during the last month.
  • More than 15 million adults had an alcohol use disorder.
  • This accounted for 9.8 million men, and 5.3 million women.
  • Only 1.3 million adults received treatment for an alcohol use disorder.
  • Thus, the vast majority of alcohol use disorder cases go untreated.
  • Among young people, 623,000 between the ages of 12 and 17 had an alcohol use disorder.
  • Only 37,000 young people received treatment for an alcohol use disorder in 2015.

In addition, about 88,000 people die from an alcohol-related incident each year. This makes alcohol the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.

The misuse or abuse of alcohol is costly to our economy as well. In 2010, alcohol abuse cost close to $250 billion. Clearly, something needs to change. Today, alcoholism and alcohol abuse are more prevalent than ever before.

Making a change to these dangerous patterns begins with knowledge. The more you know about alcoholism and alcohol abuse, the better. With proper knowledge, you may be able to avoid becoming a part of these statistics.

It's important to know the alcoholism definition in order to understand what it is. Alcoholism is a disease that is characterized by the continual use of alcohol. Alcoholism is also habitual, and chronic.

When someone suffers from alcoholism, the consumption of alcohol interferes with their daily life. It causes problems with work, school and socialization. For many people, alcoholism also interferes with physical and mental health.

While people always make a choice to begin drinking, alcoholism itself is a disease. Once it sets in, it requires alcohol addiction treatment for recovery to take place.

It's also important to understand the alcoholic definition. You may have been wondering, what is an alcoholic? It's possible that you've been curious about your own alcohol use for quite some time. You've wondered if it classified you as an alcoholic.

A person is an alcoholic if he or she suffers from an alcohol addiction, or alcoholism. However, drinking a large amount of alcohol does not mean you are an alcoholic. It is a warning sign of becoming an alcoholic in the future.

Some experts believe that once you are an alcoholic, you will always be an alcoholic. This is a topic that has been debated for quite some time. The fact is that once you are an alcoholic, you are always at risk of returning to alcoholism. This has been proven time and time again.


Washington State Alcohol Addiction Statistics

The alcoholism statistics in Washington are just as bothersome as the nationwide statistics. Heavy drinking is a problem for both adults and adolescents in our state.

Regarding underage drinking:

  • Car crashes remain the leading cause of death among people between the ages of 15 and 20.
  • The rate of fatal crashes among young people who have been drinking is more than twice what it is for people 21 and older.
  • Alcohol use has been linked with death among teenagers by suicide, homicide and drowning.
  • When a young person begins drinking by the age of 15, they are four times more likely to develop an alcohol use disorder in adulthood.
  • Alcohol use has been linked with many risky behaviors among youths. They include using other drugs, fighting, carrying a weapon or perpetrating or being a victim of date rape.
  • Among students in Washington who reported drinking within the last month, most said they drink 1-2 days per month.
  • Most of these students use hard liquor, which puts them at risk for alcohol poisoning.
  • 20% of 10th and 12th graders reported riding in a car with a driver who had been drinking.

The CDC reports that:

  • Binge drinking is prevalent among as many as 18.1% of adults in Washington.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption costs Washington State close to $6 billion per year.
  • That works out to $863 per person, or $2.23 per drink.
  • These costs include loss of workplace productivity, health care expenses and criminal justice expenses, among others.
  • Binge drinking is responsible for 77% of these costs.

Regarding drunk driving in Washington State, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission reports that:

  • In 2016, there were 278 impaired driving fatalities in Washington State.
  • That was an increase from two years prior, when there were 230 (2014) and 258 (2015).
  • 50% of all roadway fatalities are because of intoxicated driving.
  • In 2017, more than 25,600 people were arrested for impaired driving.
  • Between Thanksgiving and New Years Day, there were 100 people arrested for intoxicated driving in 2016.
  • On average, there are about 149 people who die every summer because of intoxicated driving.

What is Alcohol Abuse?

Alcohol abuse is very different from alcoholism or alcohol addiction.

Sometimes alcohol abuse and alcoholism are used interchangeably. However, they do mean different things.

It's possible to participate in alcohol abuse without being, or becoming, and alcoholic. When you abuse alcohol, you are misusing it, and not drinking responsibly. Unfortunately, people do this all the time. They believe that there's no harm in drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. This is because the perception of alcohol is that it is much safer than many other substances on the market.

What are the Signs of Alcohol Abuse?

You may be abusing alcohol without realizing it. It's possible that you're just not sure how much alcohol is too much. If you are participating with alcohol abuse, you are most likely going to show some signs of it.

Some common signs of alcohol abuse include:

  • Not being as interested in activities you once enjoyed doing
  • Not being as involved with your favorite hobbies
  • Having some trouble at work, or at school
  • Becoming somewhat socially isolated
  • Occasional feelings of restlessness
  • Becoming depressed

If you have experienced any of these, you may be abusing alcohol.

How do You Know if You Have an Alcohol Addiction?

It's not always easy to know if you have an alcohol addiction or not. Most people who drink feel as though they're in control of their alcohol use. They may know that they drink too much, but they still feel as though their consumption is under control. This might be the way that you feel as well.

You can get a better grasp on whether or not you have an alcohol addiction by answering some questions. The following are questions that a professional might ask you about your alcohol use.

  • Do you ever feel like you need to cut down on how much or how often you drink?
  • Have you ever felt annoyed when people criticize your drinking?
  • Has drinking ever made you feel bad or guilty?
  • Do you feel like you need to drink first thing in the morning to steady yourself?
  • Do you continue drinking even when you know it's making you feel depressed or anxious?
  • Do you continue drinking even though it's contributing to a health problem?
  • Do you frequently drink more alcohol than you thought you would?
  • Do you feel an urge to drink alcohol?
  • Do you ever crave alcohol?

It can be difficult to face some of the answers to these questions. Still, they need to be asked. If you can answer "yes" to more than one of them, you most likely have an alcohol addiction. If so, it's a condition that needs professional treatment.

Alcoholism Symptoms You Should be Aware of

There are certain signs you can look for in your own life that can tell you if you're an alcoholic. If you notice even one of these signs, it's possible that you're struggling with alcoholism.

Some common alcoholism signs include:

  • Neglecting your responsibilities at home or at work because you'd rather drink.
  • Drinking alcohol in situations when it may be dangerous, such as drinking and driving.
  • Having legal problems that are related to your use of alcohol.
  • Drinking alcohol even when it is causing you to have relationship problems.
  • Drinking because it helps you to relax or forget about the stressful events of the day.

It's very easy to go from alcohol abuse to alcoholism. If you can relate to any of these, you may have already gone down that path.

If you are still not sure, there is a way to get more information about your own alcohol use. You may find it to be very helpful to take an alcoholism quiz. This quiz will ask you some difficult questions, but be honest. You'll get your results right away, and they will guide you as to what your next steps should be.

One of the issues is that most people don't know how much alcohol is too much. This means that you could be inadvertently drinking too much just from lack of knowledge.

According to Harvard Health, moderate drinking is acceptable for both men and women. For men, this means consuming one to two standard drinks per day. For women, it means consuming one standard drink per day.

A standard drink means:

  • One 12 ounce beer
  • One 5 ounce glass of wine
  • One 3.5 ounce glass of fortified wine
  • 1.5 ounces of 80 proof spirits

Of course, this is a standard. There are those for whom even one drink per day isn't a good idea. This can include people who take blood thinners, or who have high blood pressure. It could also include people who have problems with their balance.

Anything over these accepted amounts is considered to be heavy drinking. Heavy drinking can lead to alcoholism when it is engaged in often enough. Also, binge drinking is a behavior that neither men, nor women should ever engage in. This is true even when binge drinking only occurs once a month.

Alcoholics frequently suffer from a number of different medical issues, and even mental problems. Excessive alcohol use is dangerous, and yet, alcoholics are usually unwilling to stop drinking.

If you are an alcoholic, you are at a very high risk of:

  • Mood and behavioral changes
  • Heart problems, such as cardiomyopathy and arrhythmias
  • High blood pressure
  • Suffering from a stroke
  • Liver problems, such as cirrhosis or alcoholic hepatitis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Cancer of the mouth, throat, liver and esophagus
  • A weakened immune system

Your health is important. Every drink you consume brings you closer to any one of the issues on this list.

There are other devastating consequences of drinking alcohol excessively, as well. When you drink too much alcohol you may:

  • Become very confused
  • Make poor decisions
  • Experience slurred speech
  • Experience reduced inhibitions
  • Have memory problems
  • Fall into a coma
  • Having breathing problems
  • Get into a car accident if you decide to drive
  • Participate in risky behaviors
  • Become violent

There are just so many risks associated with drinking too much alcohol. It's possible that you have even experienced one or more of these in the past. If you have, it's so important for you to stop drinking.

Could Alcohol Use be Declining Among Young People?

Every year, the National Institute on Drug Abuse releases a report regarding 10th and 12th graders and their drug and alcohol use. It is called, Monitoring the Future, and 45,000 students in private and public schools are surveyed. According to the most recent one from 2018, alcohol use by older adolescents has decreased. In some of the age groups in the survey, it is the lowest it has ever been.

Binge drinking may be a problem among adults, but it’s an even more serious problem among teenagers. That is the primary way they consume alcohol. Teens who do it put themselves at risk of driving recklessly, and they are much more likely to speed and get into accidents. They also have a higher risk of alcohol poisoning and death.

The Washington Post posted an article regarding pediatricians’ thoughts about the declining numbers. While they are promising, there is still so much more work that needs to be done to keep the number of teens using alcohol down. It is much more dangerous for teens to drink. It impacts their brain development, along with putting them at risk for serious injuries or even death.

How to Help a Loved One Who is an Alcoholic

If you have a loved one who is an alcoholic, your heart probably breaks for that person. Alcoholism can be a hard topic to bring up with someone you love.

Even so, it's important to talk about the problem. You should be aware that discussing alcoholism with an alcoholic is likely to be met with defensiveness.

Your family member may become angry, and even refuse to talk with you about it.

When you bring it up, be prepared with research. Talk about the effects of alcoholism, and state the fact that you're concerned. If nothing changes, you may want to consider an intervention as your next step.

Sometimes those loved ones battling alcoholism are teenagers. Far too many parents have to deal with this problem under their own roofs. If this is your situation, it's important that you know what to do.

It might help you to follow these guidelines:

  • Be clear about the rules and consequences of drinking
  • Find ways to monitor your teen's activity
  • Encourage and expose your teen to other, healthier activities and hobbies
  • Talk to your teen about underlying issues that may be causing them to drink
  • Get help from an outside resource who can advise you on your specific problem

Alcoholics should never stop drinking on their own. Alcohol is a powerful drug that is often misunderstood. If you are an alcoholic, your body has gotten used to having alcohol regularly. This means that you will go through withdrawal when you stop drinking.

You may think that you know exactly what alcohol withdrawal is. However, it is much worse than what you experience when you wake up in the morning. Alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous, and it can have devastating, and even fatal consequences.

Alcoholism and the Risk of Delirium Tremens

Delirium tremens is a condition that can occur when you stop drinking alcohol. Some people are more at risk for DTs than others.

You might be at risk for DTs if you:

  • Have been drinking alcohol excessively for ten years or more
  • Have gone through alcohol withdrawal before
  • Are an alcoholic who has suffered a head injury in the past
  • Don't eat enough food when you stop drinking
  • Drink a large amount of alcohol in excess for a period of several months

The symptoms of delirium tremens can begin very abruptly, and without warning. They usually start within 96 hours. However, they have been done to begin as long as 10 days after the last drink.

Some common symptoms of delirium tremens include:

  • Experiencing delirium, or sudden confusion
  • Having tremors throughout your body
  • Abrupt mental changes
  • Feeling the need to sleep for long periods
  • Experiencing hallucinations (visual, auditory or tactile)
  • Being very sensitive to light, touch and sounds

The DTs is an emergency situation. If you experience them, getting medical help immediately is crucial. Delirium tremens can become fatal if not treated right away.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment is Available at Northpoint the Evergreen in WA State

At Northpoint the Evergreen, we know just how serious alcoholism is. We also know how hard it is to come to terms with the fact that you need to get help. We want you to know that we are here to provide you with the support you need.

Our outpatient rehab is known as one of the best in the State of Washington. It is a comprehensive program that is tailored to meet the needs of every client we serve. We offer varying levels of treatment, based on what our clients need. We have a more traditional outpatient program, an intensive outpatient program and partial hospitalization.

At Northpoint the Evergreen, we have two locations – one in Bellevue and one in Seattle, Washington. We also accept many different health insurance plans. That allows us to keep costs as low as possible for our clients. We know affordable treatment is important, and we want to be able to offer it to you.

Do you have more questions about alcoholism or alcohol abuse? Are you interested in learning more about our outpatient program? Please contact us today.