If you or a loved one are struggling with an alcohol use disorder, you are likely aware of the many negative effects that come with it. The constant urge to drink is strong for alcoholics and can be difficult to control without outside help. For many alcoholics, once they get help and quit drinking, they will continue to struggle with alcohol cravings and may drink again. Not only do alcoholics get physically sick after drinking, but they may make bad decisions due to impaired thinking, and put themselves at risk for other health-related problems. Scripps Research is currently conducting two different studies for alcohol use disorder - one is for people who are interested in quitting or cutting back on their drinking and the other study is for those who do not want treatment or to reduce the amount of drinks they consume. Here is all you need to know about alcohol use disorder, the two studies we are conducting, and why they are important.
What is Alcohol Use Disorder. Alcohol use disorder, or alcoholism, is a pattern of drinking alcohol where someone has issues controlling their drinking, has to drink more to get the same effect, continues to drink alcohol despite all the problems it causes, or has withdrawal symptoms when they quit or cut back on drinking. This pattern includes binge drinking, which is considered five or more drinks within two hours for men or 4 or more drinks in two hours for women. If you can’t control your drinking and it is causing problems in your daily life, you likely have alcohol use disorder. If someone drinks regularly and puts their health or safety at risk, they might have alcohol use disorder.
What are the Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder
Alcohol use disorder ranges from mild to severe depending on the symptoms someone experiences. Some common symptoms or signs of alcohol dependence are when someone wants to cut back on drinking but is unsuccessful, feels a strong urge to drink alcohol, is unable to limit the amount one drinks, and spends a lot of time drinking, being under the influence, or recovering from drinking. Other signs include not meeting responsibilities at work or home, reducing social activities and hobbies they once enjoyed, or using alcohol in an environment that isn’t safe, such as driving or swimming. Needing to drink much more to get the original effect or experiencing withdrawal symptoms when alcohol’s effects wear off, like nausea, shaking, anxiety, insomnia, and sweating. Someone who continues to drink alcohol despite the health, social, occupational, or psychological problems it causes likely suffers from alcohol use disorder.
Health Risks Associated With Alcohol Use Disorder
Long term alcohol use increases risk for a variety of health problems including liver disease, digestive issues, heart problems, and negatively affects the brain which can cause changes in mood and behavior. Research evidence indicates an association between drinking alcohol and several types of cancer. There is no amount of alcohol that is safe to drink during pregnancy and drinking alcohol while pregnant can cause brain damage and birth defects in the fetus. Some medications interact with alcohol and increase its toxic effects while simultaneously increasing or decreasing the medication’s effectiveness. There are many health risks associated with long term alcohol use and all of them have the potential to cause death, so it is important to get help before the health consequences are irreversible.
Non-Treatment Study for Alcohol Drinkers
People who suffer from an alcohol use disorder may experience craving, or a strong urge to drink alcohol. In our research study for drinkers who are not interested in reducing their alcohol consumption, we are testing a medication that can potentially lower the urge to drink. Using the best equipment and technology, Scripps Research La Jolla is here to make sure you are in good hands. Our goal is to find new medications to help people struggling with an alcohol use disorder get healthy and sober, and this non-treatment study is a step towards finding a solution and saving many lives.
Alcohol use disorder affects an estimated 16 million people in the United States. It is a complex disease and is dangerous for a variety of reasons. It not only negatively affects your physical health, but it also impacts mental health, relationships, and your personal life. If you or a loved one struggle with alcohol problems, it is important that you get help to cut back or quit drinking altogether. We offer two studies, our treatment study can help you reduce your drinking or completely quit and our non-treatment study gives you the opportunity to take part in helping researchers find new and better treatments that will help advance the treatment field. Both studies provide compensation to those who meet requirements and participate.
If you are a frequent drinker with no intention of quitting alcohol, call to find out if you’re eligible to volunteer for a 5-week, paid research study that aims to develop new medications for those suffering from alcohol use disorder.