Understanding Wine Abuse
Wine is a legal alcoholic beverage made using fermented grape juice without added sugar, water, enzymes, or acids. There are many different types of wine, each made from a different variety of grape and yeast strains. The yeast in the wine consumes the sugars to produce ethanol, which is the active ingredient in alcohol. Some wine is made using pomegranate, strawberry, honey or rice.
The average alcohol content by volume (ABV) for wine is 11.5 to 13.5 percent, which is considered a medium-alcohol content. A standard serving of wine is five ounces, and the average bottle contains 750 milliliters (25.4 ounces).
Wine abuse may be hard to recognize as a problem because of the drink’s worldwide acceptability and availability. There are 36 billion bottles of wine produced worldwide each year. Excessive wine may result in an alcohol use disorder (AUD) such as alcohol abuse and alcoholism.
A moderate, safe amount of wine is no more than two glasses per day for men and no more than one glass a day for women. Yet even moderate wine drinking can casually turn into binge drinking. Binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks per occasion for women, and five or more drinks per occasion for men.
Heavy alcohol use is defined as binge drinking five times a month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, binge drinking is the most common, costly, and deadly pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States.
Having a glass of wine every day might indeed have health benefits, but it may also be a road to alcohol addiction. Many people start using wine to reduce tension, but genetic, environmental and psychological factors may also contribute to an alcohol use disorder.
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Who Abuses Wine?
In many cultures, wine is considered a ceremonial drink, or a drink to be enjoyed and paired with cuisine. Wine is even praised for its health benefits, but it may be easier to turn to abuse wine than many of us think.
An article by USA Today found that 57 percent of all wine sales in the United States were to women, and 42 percent were to “millennials.” The report found that millennials, defined as the 79 million Americans ages 21 to 38, drank 159.6 million cases of wine in 2015—an average of two cases per person.
Short-Term Effects Of Wine Abuse
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, which affects vision, coordination, judgment, ability to multitask, decision-making and reaction time. The short-term effects of wine abuse often vary based on how much a person drinks, but they also vary based on age, weight, height, and gender.
Wine abuse can lead to a range of different problems, from slurred speech to insomnia, and even coma.
The short-term effects of wine may include:
- reduced tension
- poor concentration
- slower reaction time
- reduced coordination
- slurred speech
- mood swings
- poor vision
- breathing difficulties
- alcohol poisoning
- blacking out
- coma and overdose
Any alcohol is dangerous when abused, whether it’s liquor, beer, or wine. With alcohol abuse, a person isn’t necessarily addicted to the drug, but it still causes major problems in their life. Abusing alcohol can result in physical, mental and spiritual distress as well as problems at work, home or school.
Long-Term Effects Of Wine Abuse
In moderation, wine is said to have several health benefits to the heart, especially in women over 55. Yet when wine is abused, it can have the opposite effect. Over time or on one single occasion, excessive wine can take a serious toll on your health.
Wine abuse can negatively impact the following organs:
- Brain—alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways. Long-term wine abuse can cause problems with memory and the brain’s ability to regulate mood or behavior. Excessive alcohol may lead to thiamine deficiency, which increases the risk of the debilitating brain conditions, like Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome.
- Heart—both short and long-term wine abuse can result in heart problems. Some of the most common and understood heart problems from alcohol are cardiomyopathy, irregular heartbeat (arrhythmias), high blood pressure, and stroke. Moderate wine is said to protect healthy adults from coronary heart disease, but the benefits may be outweighed by the risks.
- Liver—the liver is the body’s natural filter, and excessive wine can cause it to stop working properly. When the liver gets bombarded with too much alcohol, it may become inflamed and damaged. Common liver problems from wine abuse include fatty liver (steatosis), alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis and cirrhosis.
- Pancreas—heavy drinking can damage the pancreas, and may lead to pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is a condition in which the pancreas becomes inflamed, causing severe abdominal pain and vomiting. Chronic pancreatitis is linked to pancreatic cancer and diabetes, which occurs when the pancreas becomes unable to produce insulin.
Long-term wine abuse does more than just stain a person’s teeth. It can cause physical, mental and spiritual health problems. Wine abuse can damage the immune system, and make a person more susceptible to disease. Wine abuse can also lead to stomach ulcers, cancer, relationship problems, and alcoholism.
Signs And Symptoms Of Wine Addiction
Many people suffering from a wine addiction (alcoholism) are unable to control the amount they drink, even if it causes severe problems in their life.
Those with a wine addiction may insist that there isn’t a problem; an argument that is often fueled by the social status of wine. Wine or not, alcohol is a drug and can be dangerous and addictive.
If an individual continues abusing wine, they may build a tolerance, and even become dependent on the drug. It’s common for a person with a wine addiction to buy bulk wine (boxed wine), or switch to hard liquor for the cost and potency.
Wine addiction is characterized by a person’s inability to stop using the drug, whether it causes problems with their health, relationships, work, school or other things they’re passionate about. A wine addiction isn’t always easy to spot, but if someone is struggling with wine abuse, it might save their lives to offer them support.
Wine Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms
One of the most common signs of wine addiction is the presence of withdrawal symptoms when a person quits using it. Withdrawal symptoms are the body’s reaction to the lack of something it has been trained to believe was vital.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms may include:
- loss of appetite
- rapid heart rate
- severe confusion
- delirium tremens
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms may start as early as eight hours after a person’s last drink and can last for several weeks. Generally, alcohol withdrawals peak around 72 hours. Individual withdrawal symptoms vary based on a person’s age, the amount of wine consumed and their gender.
Medically-Supervised Alcohol Detoxification
After suffering from the abuse and neglect that often come with an alcohol addiction, a body needs healing. A medically-supervised detoxification (medical detox) helps patients overcome the physical addiction to alcohol. Medical detox works to remove the unwanted chemical (alcohol) out of the body, and restore physical and nutritional balance.
Medical detox helps to reduce withdrawal symptoms, prevent complications during withdrawal, and prepare a patient for behavioral treatment. Detox is often considered a vital first step to alcohol treatment and may be required for the safety of a patient.
Treatment For Wine Addiction
The first step to quitting wine, for many, is to admit that they have a problem and entertain the idea that it may not be possible to quit without help. Wine affects each person differently, and for some, it becomes too much for their body and mind to handle. No two cases of alcohol addiction are exactly the same.
With an individualized treatment approach, wine addiction can be treated in each patient as it pertains to their needs. Many people suffering from alcoholism need to re-learn to live, handle stress and cope without alcohol. Treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness and stress management and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) help people restore balance and purpose in their lives.
Learn more about wine addiction and treatment options today.