Published on January 17th, 2017 | by David Morales0
Dr. Koob and The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Alcohol related problems often present themselves during the holiday season and knowing the facts is the first step to recognizing the signs. Getting help is not always easy. Dr. Koob, the director of the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), is an internationally recognized expert in alcohol and alcohol addiction. He has excellent advice about treatment and joins the Hype magazine in a discussion about the dangers of drinking too much, too fast or too often.
More than 50 million US adults are affected by alcohol. Although there are many factors that contribute to the reasons why someone may drink, Dr. Koob informs us why alcohol itself is the major contributor to the disorder that often leads to further health complications.
What are some signs of alcohol related problems?
There are subtle signs. Perhaps only going to parties where alcohol is being served or always drinking while watching football. Being in a continuous state of intoxication is another sign. But some of the signs are not so subtle, such as every time you drink you get into a fight with a family member or a loved one. Those are some signs that maybe something isn’t quite right.
What can you tell me about treatment?
Treatment options are multiple. They range from three FDA approved medications that can help you along the way in the treatment of alcohol use disorder. A variety of behavioral treatments that can be administered by counselors, psychiatrist, clinical psychologists that include everything from cognitive behavioral therapy to motivational interviewing and family therapies. There are also mutual support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and 12 steps programs.
What are some of the consequences of excessive drinking?
The consequences of excessive drinking can be anything form a DUI but can range from severe organ damage. In fact, 50 percent of liver disease in the country is now contributable to alcohol. It can damage every organ in your body if you are engaged in chronic, high dose and excessive alcohol use. We think of alcohol use disorder as a spectrum now, so you may have some subtle criteria, but may leave you at risk for a more serious problem later.
Why is there such a high number of people affected by the disorder?
That’s a good question! I think about 70 percent of Americans who do drink and mostly do not have problem, but the high number probably reflects a variety of issues. There is a genetic vulnerability, there are situations of high stress, there are individuals who were abused as children but there is also, I hate to say it, a lack of knowledge that alcohol itself can cause a problem if you over indulge. We can blame many factors but if you engage in alcohol use, you are in a sense tempting the body systems to get into trouble.
Where can we go for more information?
We have a website called rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov. You can get there by simply googling rethinking drinking. That website opens a portal to other websites that have treatment pamphlets and brochures that will give you options that are available for treatment of an alcohol use disorder and how to do interventions.