How Much is Too Much? Alcoholism Explained
Alcohol is the most commonly used substance in the United States. It’s also the third leading cause of death in our country. First experiences with alcohol usually take place in one’s teen years – sometime between the ages of 12 and 18. While some people will never have a problem with drinking, others may struggle to control their alcohol consumption. What separates social alcohol use from an addiction?
Dependence on alcohol can develop over time. It can be identified when one’s drinking begins to cause problems with family, friends, work, or school. People struggling with alcoholism may have a hard time setting limits on their drinking – they try and fail to cut back on their substance use. They might feel guilty about their drunken behavior or experience blackouts.
Alcoholism’s key signs are:
- Irritability and mood swings
- Choosing drinking over other obligations
- Drinking secretly (or alone)
- Making excuses for drinking (to relax, deal with stress, or feel normal)
- Isolating from friends and family members
- Feeling hungover when not drinking (withdrawal)
- Blackouts and memory loss
- Change of appearance
If you are dealing with these symptoms and are concerned about the alcohol consumption of yourself or a loved one, we encourage you to seek treatment today. Heavy drinking can cause significant health problems and may even be life-threatening.
Health Risks of Alcohol
In America, it is estimated that over 20 million adults suffer from alcohol abuse or engage in binge drinking. In contrast with its popularity, this substance is associated with a bevy of negative health effects. These include…
- Cardiovascular problems (myocardial infarction, cardiomyopathy, atrial fibrillation, hypertension)
- Psychiatric problems (depression, anxiety)
- Increased risk of violence, accidents, and injuries
- Cancer (liver, mouth, throat, larynx, esophagus)
- Liver disease (fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis)
- Gastrointestinal problems (pancreatitis, gastritis)
- Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) for children of alcoholics
Treatment for Addiction
When an addicted person makes the decision to stop drinking and seek treatment, alcohol rehab is their first stop. Here is what you can expect in the earliest stages of recovery.
Detox – Treatment for alcohol abuse starts with detoxification. Often shortened to “detox,” this phase of the process is incredibly important. All traces of alcohol must be removed from a person’s system before healing can begin. Quitting “cold turkey” can result in life-threatening side effects like seizures, delirium tremens (DTs), and even death. For this reason, detox should take place in a medically supervised environment, under the care of licensed clinicians.
Individual Therapies – Addiction doesn’t develop in a vacuum. Your mental health, past decisions, and environment combine to create a substance use disorder. Our highly skilled therapists will work with you to identify harmful patterns of thought and behavior that contribute to alcohol addiction.
Group Therapy – There’s one phrase from the Rooms that is especially meaningful: “no one does it alone.” Without the support and insight of our fellow addicts, we are unlikely to recover. At South Miami Recovery, we offer group sessions that provide accountability, encouragement, and education about the disease of addiction.
Continued Care – After your initial treatment has concluded, you have the option to continue receiving addiction treatment services. We recommend getting involved in local 12-Step meetings while attending group or individual sessions for the foreseeable future. Long-term treatment is associated with improved outcomes.
With the proper treatment, it is possible to overcome alcoholism. Contact us for more information about our flexible outpatient programming.