AUD: What Are the Signs That Someone Needs Help?

Addiction Recovery Publishing Nutrition February 11, 2024

AUD: What Are the Signs That Someone Needs Help?

There is understandably a lot of uncertainty and anxiety that comes with seeing a loved one struggling with alcohol use disorder (AUD). Much of that fear comes from knowing that someone needs help but not knowing what to do about it. But not knowing is okay. It just means that you care enough to seek some answers. The renowned author and philosopher Eckhart Tolle said, “Being at ease with not knowing is crucial for answers to come to you.” The same is true when it comes to doing the next right thing for a loved one who needs help. If you do not know, it just lets you know that it’s time to ask.

AUD: What Exactly Is Alcohol Use Disorder?

Before helping someone with AUD, it is crucial to get a better understanding of what exactly the disorder is. Doctors Nehring, Chen, and Freeman offer a concise definition in their clinical write-up, Alcohol Use Disorder. They explain that “Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a prevalent psychiatric condition in the United States, characterized by problematic and unhealthy patterns of alcohol consumption. It is a well-recognized disorder that encompasses a broad spectrum of symptoms and behaviors associated with alcohol misuse.” Also, “AUD affects a significant portion of the population, making it one of the most widespread psychiatric disorders in the country.”

AUD is not just one of “the most widespread psychiatric disorders,” it is also the most prevalent addiction in the country. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), “29.5 million people ages 12 and older had AUD in the past year. This includes 17.4 million males ages 12 and older,” and “12.2 million females ages 12 and older.” So, as one can see, not only is AUD a prominent problem, but it is also one that does not discriminate.

AUD: Who Is Susceptible to Alcohol Use Disorder?

The answer to who is susceptible to AUD is relatively simple: anyone. As many people in the recovery realm like to say, “AUD is an ‘equal opportunity employer.’” For example, it does not matter if someone comes from a well-to-do background or one that is impoverished; with the right circumstances, AUD can take hold.

Now, of course, there are certain aspects of an individual’s life that do make them more susceptible. These are things like genetics, financial opportunities, family history, and socioeconomic environment. But ultimately, if one finds themselves misusing alcohol for long enough, they are liable to become addicted to alcohol and thus struggle with AUD. Also, that struggle can be very difficult indeed, and without proper addiction care and treatment, it can be seriously damaging to one’s mind, body, and soul.

AUD: What Are the Symptoms of Untreated Alcohol Use Disorder?

The symptoms of untreated AUD are vast and can affect every area of an individual’s life. They are perhaps best broken down into three parts: negative effects on one’s physical body, negative effects on one’s mental status, and negative effects on one’s social life and environment. 

The easiest effects one might begin to see are the ones on the physical body. This is because many of them are surface-level effects. However, there is a lot more damage going on under the surface.

The Physical Side Effects of Untreated AUD

When it comes to the physical body, essentially, over time, untreated AUD breaks down the body until it cannot function anymore. These negative physical effects include:

  • Trouble with sleep patterns, including insomnia and sleeping too much
  • Having trouble with eating and processing food
  • Unhealthy excessive weight gain or excessive weight loss
  • Having issues with coordination and motor skills
  • Can cause liver disease over time
  • It raises blood pressure and can cause heart attack or stroke over time
  • Has been linked to certain cancers
  • Alcohol withdrawals can lead to delirium tremens (DTs) and hallucinations
  • If untreated, it can cause premature death

Now, deeper under the surface lies the emotional side effects

The Emotional Side Effects of Untreated AUD

It is the emotional side effects of untreated AUD that can start to make someone feel as though they have become hopeless with the disease of alcoholism. Some of the negative emotional side effects are as follows:

  • Feeling more anxious and on edge
  • Having deep bouts of depression
  • Not wanting to engage with activities that were once enjoyed
  • Having trouble seeing the point of life
  • Feeling like no one understands what one is going through
  • Alcohol-related events that lead to instances of trauma and PTSD
  • Having excessive mood swings
  • Wanting to commit self-harm
  • Having suicidal ideations
  • Attempting suicide

Then, there are side effects of untreated AUD that not only affect the individual but affect everyone around them. These are the environmental and social side effects.

The Environmental Side Effects of Untreated AUD

There is a reason that people call AUD a “family disease.” This is because the individual struggling with addiction becomes like a tornado that causes destruction to anything and anyone in its path. The following are just a few of the side effects that can come from that destruction:

  • Trouble with performance at work, which can lead to reprimand, suspension, or termination
  • Having trouble with relationships, including marriages and parent/child relationships
  • Not functioning well academically and failing out of school
  • Having economic trouble that could lead to bankruptcy, foreclosure, and loss of assets
  • Losing standing in one’s community
  • Creating scandal due to addiction-related behaviors
  • Losing touch with close friends and one’s social circle

AUD: What Are the Signs That Someone Needs Help?

Now, some of the previously mentioned side effects also bleed over into the warning signs that someone needs help with AUD. However, there are also many other specific signs that someone needs help. The following are just a few of those signs:

  • An individual stops engaging with others and starts to isolate
  • They may start to hide their drinking and/or how much they drink
  • Has trouble functioning without a drink or multiple drinks
  • Becomes irritable and restless without a drink
  • Stops caring about their appearance and personal hygiene
  • Has “hangovers” that can be debilitating and last all day
  • They cannot stop once they start drinking
  • An unwillingness to discuss their drinking

If any, some, or all of these warning signs are present, it is highly recommended that an individual seek help, or that help be sought for them. Also, the good news is there is a lot of help out there that is accessible and has been proven effective.

Someone Needs Help: How Is AUD Treated?

AUD can be treated in a number of ways. The first step is usually getting someone into a safe and secure detox program. This is important because many people do not realize that alcohol withdrawal can be very dangerous. It can even be deadly. So, what exactly is alcohol withdrawal? For starters, it is much more than a mere hangover.

According to the peer-reviewed write-up, Alcohol Withdrawal, by Doctors Newman, Gallagher, and Gomez, “Alcohol withdrawal symptoms occur when patients stop drinking or significantly decrease their alcohol intake after long-term dependence. Withdrawal has a broad range of symptoms from mild tremors to a condition called delirium tremens, which results in seizures and could progress to death if not recognized and treated promptly. The reported mortality rate for patients who experience delirium tremens is anywhere from 1 to 5%.” This is why a safe, secure, and professional detox process is so important. But, treatment must not stop at detox.

AUD can be treated in a number of different ways, with different means and modalities. Depending on how bad the AUD is, these modalities are often administered while an individual is either in residential addiction care, a partial hospitalization program (PHP), or an intensive outpatient program (IOP). Regardless of what type of program an individual ends up in, it can be crucial that the types of treatment they receive be individualized and comprehensive.

Someone Needs Help: Why Is Comprehensive Addiction Care Critical?

Comprehensive care for AUD is critical because no “silver bullet” treatment for addiction has yet been found. What works for one person may not work for another. Also, sometimes a modality is effective at treating AUD, but it becomes significantly more effective when it is supplemented with some other type of treatment. 

For example, a psychotherapy like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) may be effective, but its efficacy increases substantially when a program of mindfulness meditation is added to it. This would never be discovered if one was merely treating their AUD in one way. Another important aspect of comprehensive care is that it utilizes means and methods to help someone with whole mind-body recovery. This is important because the body works in such a way that if the physical body is not treated, then the emotional body cannot heal. The same is true in reverse, as well as in a spiritual sense. Also, comprehensive care should take into account one’s nutritional well-being.

Someone Needs Help: Nutrition and AUD

Here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we like to say that “Food is medicine.” The reason we say this is that without the proper nutrients, one cannot fully heal at the cellular level. This is especially true with someone with AUD because the disease depletes much of the nutrients that one needs to function on a day-to-day basis.

According to the journal Alcohol: Clinical and Experimental Research, “Chronic alcoholic patients are frequently deficient in one or more vitamins. The deficiencies commonly involve folate, vitamin B6, thiamine, and vitamin A. Although inadequate dietary intake is a major cause of vitamin deficiency, other possible mechanisms may also be involved. Alcoholism can affect the absorption, storage, metabolism, and activation of many of these vitamins.” So, for optimal healing, these nutrients must be replenished.

Two of the ways that these nutrients can be replenished are through pharmaceutical-grade supplements and nutrient infusion therapy. Another way they can be replenished is by working with professional dieticians, nutritionists, and naturopathic doctors (NDs). They can ensure that not only is the right food taken in, but the wrong food is eliminated. This has to do with the concept of nutrients, antinutrients, and nutritional therapy.

According to the peer-reviewed Journal for Nurse Practitioners, “Nutritional Therapy uses food to prevent and reverse diseases that plague most western societies: diabetes, obesity, heart disease, arthritis, and depression. In order for food to be therapeutic, it must be nutrient-dense, measured in part by the nutrients and anti-nutrients, contained in consumed foods.” The good news is that at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we not only utilize this practice of nutritional therapy, but we have all of our food prepared, based on individual needs, by world-class chefs. It is important to us that nutrition is also delicious and exciting at our luxury recovery center. Some of our food is even cultivated on our property as a means of recovery.

Someone Needs Help: Horticulture Therapy and AUD

Horticulture is something that has been helping people with their emotional and spiritual selves for a very long time. However, recently, it has been looked at more closely to see exactly what the benefits of horticulture for addiction and mental health recovery can be.

Many benefits have been found regarding horticulture therapy and addiction recovery. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “People’s interactions with plants, through goal-orientated horticultural activities in the form of active gardening, as well as the passive appreciation of nature, could be therapeutic to people with mental disorders [and addiction disorders] in many ways. First, horticulture could have emotional benefits, such as reducing stress, reducing psychiatric symptoms, stabilizing mood, and increasing the sense of tranquility, spirituality, and enjoyment. Second, it could help people to reduce fatigue and restore attention and cognitive ability.” The list goes on extensively from there.

Also, just as nutritional therapy is exciting and unique at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, horticulture therapy is as well. It comes from the vast variety that is offered on the luxury 30-acre property. This includes rows of fruit, coconut, and citrus trees, bursting guava bushes, packed pineapple patches, and various vegetable boxes. Another unique therapy we offer at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab is surf therapy.

Someone Needs Help: Surf Therapy and AUD

A variation of nature immersion therapy, surf therapy is a way for one to connect with oneself by connecting with something greater, like the ocean. It also allows people an opportunity to continue their physical healing as it can be a low-impact activity.

Surf therapy has a number of other benefits. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “Carefully planned water activities tailored to the needs of the individual can contribute to correct psychosocial and cognitive development. The International Surf Therapy Organization summarizes the benefits of adequately indicated surf therapy as follows: improved physical health and mobility; improved mental health, including reduction of specific symptoms, such as posttraumatic stress and depression; improved well-being (strengthening of trust and confidence, encouragement of independence, resilience and protective coping strategies) and improved social skills.”

Also, Exclusive Hawaii Rehab has the privilege of being located a mere 15-minute journey away from one of the best surf breaks on Hawaii’s Big Island, Honoli’i. Here, our clients can recover from their AUD while focusing on their whole mind, body, and spirit.

Healing at the Cellular Level With Exclusive Hawaii Rehab

Recovery is all about healing at the cellular level. This type of healing, whole mind-body cellular healing, is what we offer here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab.

Eckhart Tolle also said, “The power for creating a better future is contained in the present moment: You create a good future by creating a good present.” There is no time like the present to recover from AUD than right now, and there is no better place to do it than at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab.

Loved ones of people with alcohol use disorder (AUD) need and deserve support to get them to help. Part of that help comes from knowing what damage and bodily harm AUD can cause, what the warning signs of someone struggling with AUD are, and knowing what to do when those warning signs are present. If you feel like you or someone you love is struggling with AUD or any other issues of addiction, we can help. For more information about the warning signs that someone might be struggling with AUD and why getting them to Exclusive Hawaii Rehab is the best option for them to recover and progress in the long term, please reach out today at (808) 775-0200.