woman comforting a man

Alcohol Addiction

What is Alcoholism?

An alcohol use disorder develops when you have a physical and/or psychological dependency on alcohol. You may be unable to stop or control your drinking despite negative consequences such as losing a job, health issues, and difficulties in your relationships. Drinking patterns are one sign of an alcohol use disorder and include:

Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is drinking a lot in a short period and isn’t something you have to do every day or even every month. For men, this means five or more alcoholic drinks in two hours or less, and for women, it’s four or more drinks in two hours or less.

What Defines A Standard Drink

Chronic Drinking

Chronic drinkers drink daily and often increase the amount they drink to feel the same effect as when they first started drinking. Most chronic drinkers may feel sick without a daily drink, which is a sign of physical dependence.

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Why call us?

Fortunately, we at Singer Island Health understand the disease of alcoholism. Research has shown that alcohol use disorders are chronic medical conditions that can improve with the right treatment. We have the resources to help you, including a private setting, skilled therapists, and a recovery program designed to help you address your drinking and its underlying causes.

Alcohol Use Disorder Statistics

Alcohol use disorders are a major public policy and health problem within the United States. A brief look at the facts reveals the following:

  • A 2019 study showed nearly 26% of adults had engaged in binge drinking over the past month.
  • 14.1 million adults – 6% of all American adults – have an alcohol use disorder or are chronic drinkers.
  • Only 8% of adults with an alcohol use disorder have received treatment; This means 9 in every 10 American adults do not for a total of more than twelve million adults.
  • 95,000 Americans die every year from some sort of alcohol-influenced cause, including disease or accident.
  • Men are more likely than women to have an alcohol use disorder.
  • More than 1 in every ten children live with a parent with some sort of alcohol use disorder.

These numbers are staggering and show the depth and breadth of alcohol problems and their influence on the general population, including people who don’t even drink.

Recognizing Signs of Alcoholism

Alcohol use disorders rarely develop overnight. Instead, you may notice a slow progression of difficulties as a result of drinking. These can include:

  • Neglecting responsibilities, including work, school, family, or other commitments.
  • Drinking when feeling stressed, anxious, or to cope with other difficult emotions.
  • Risky behaviors such as drinking and driving.
  • Relationship difficulties due to things done under the influence of alcohol and spending time with new friends who drink.
  • Poor self-care and hygiene, which can include not eating, showering, brushing teeth, etc.
  • Avoiding discussions regarding how much you drink and avoiding people who are concerned about your drinking.
  • Legal difficulties such as arrests for drunken behavior or driving under the influence of alcohol.
  • Withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, nausea, or vomiting when not drinking.

Causes & Risk Factors of Alcohol Addiction

Anyone can develop an alcohol use disorder, yet genetic, environmental and psychological risk factors are important factors.

  • How long you’ve been drinking: This means drinking for an extended time or daily drinking for several years.
  • Age when you began drinking: Starting drinking at an early age can increase the risk of developing later alcohol problems.
  • Family history: Your family history plays an integral part in alcoholism. This may be environmental – meaning you saw alcohol being abused – or genetic meaning someone in your family has an alcohol use disorder.
  • Mental Health Disorders: Depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions such as trauma can lead to self-medicating, which is using alcohol to cope with symptoms of mental illness.
  • Trauma: If you’ve experienced trauma, there is an increased chance of developing an alcohol use disorder. Veterans are at an exceptionally high-risk of abusing alcohol.
  • Social: When you have friends or relatives who drink regularly, drinking becomes normalized, and drinking too much can be seen as funny or empowering.

Short-term effects of alcohol

Alcohol has many short-term effects. While the behavioral changes are most recognized, alcohol has an impact on many other functions. These include:

  • Difficulty with balance and motor skills, slurred speech
  • Vomiting
  • Impaired judgment
  • Blackouts (a period of being awake with no memory)
  • Unconsciousness or coma
  • Sudden death from alcohol poisoning

Long-Term Effects of Alcoholism

There are also serious health effects caused by long-term, excessive use of alcohol.

  • Cancer
  • Liver damage, alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, fatty liver
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Brain damage
  • Increased stroke risk
  • Mental health disorders

Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol slows down many processes in your body. If you drink regularly, your brain adjusts by making chemicals to keep the body awake and functioning as well as possible. When alcohol use decreases or stops, it can take a long time for the brain’s chemicals to adjust, resulting in intense and dangerous withdrawal symptoms, including seizures or death.

Our detox at Singer Island Health uses clinically proven methods to help you through withdrawal from alcohol. Withdrawing from alcohol can be dangerous and should never be done without medical supervision. We provide round-the-clock medical monitoring, medication, and therapy to help you safely stop drinking.

Finding Treatment

Studies have shown that treatment will improve your chances of maintaining sobriety. At Singer Island, we understand that alcoholism is an illness, and we are well-equipped to provide world-class treatment. We offer:

  • Medically monitored detox services
  • Residential (inpatient) drug and alcohol treatment
  • “Talk Therapy” or behavioral counseling in groups or one-on-one
  • Medication management
  • Evaluation for co-occurring disorders.
  • Treatment for conditions such as anxiety, depression, or trauma
  • Long-term planning and follow-up to prevent relapse
  • Support groups such as AA or SMART recovery

Our comprehensive program with individualized treatment plans will help you make the changes in your life that will lead to a lifetime of recovery. Help is available with a phone call to us, and we are here 24/7 to ensure you get the help you need.

Helping a Friend of Family Member

It’s painful to watch a loved one struggle with an alcohol use disorder. You may feel helpless and angry as you watch their lives spiral out of control. Sadly, many people don’t know the harm they are causing themselves and others while they struggle with alcoholism. While they will need to decide if they are ready to get help, you can talk to them to let them know you are worried.

When you talked to a loved one, speak to them privately. It’s helpful to do this when they are not drinking. Since you are talking about how you feel, use “I” statements about how their alcohol use impacts you. Your loved one may not know how you are feeling. Hearing about how their use affects you may be what they need to hear to seek help.

If you seek help for a loved one, our admissions representatives are available to help you. Many on our team are in recovery themselves. They are compassionate, understanding and will answer your questions, as well as verify insurance. We are here for you and your loved one 24/7, and your call is always confidential.