A person’s relationship with alcohol is very personal. Some people restrict the use of alcohol to only formal settings. Others who engage in alcohol use may be much more casual about their drinking habits. In some cases, people may be wary about the effects of alcohol, having had close contact with individuals who suffered from alcohol-related problems. Even so, on a typical day, alcohol use often begins in the most innocent ways.

close up of wine glass with candlelight in background.

A Drinking Pattern Can Become A Drinking Problem if Left Unaddressed

When Casual Drinking Becomes a Problem

People may simply enjoy taking a couple shots at a party or drinking a glass of champagne at a wedding. Others may look forward to pouring a glass of wine after a tough day at work. The reasons for alcohol use are plenty, and most are quite innocent.

In fact, some studies report that moderate alcohol use, particularly wine, can even have some health benefits.

But when that extra glass becomes an extra bottle, a problem begins to form. Then several bottles turn into a complete blackout. And so, the alcohol use disorder cycle begins but never seems to end.

At first, a person who regularly consumes alcohol may not realize the extent of their drinking problem. However, as time continues and heavy drinking persists, the individual or their family members may begin to realize something is off.

The loved one struggling with the undiagnosed alcohol use disorder always seems to exist in a state of stress. Fixated on when they can get their next drink and in a distorted reality of partial memories and blurred moments.

Time, along with their hopes and aspirations, seems to slowly drift away from them as their alcohol use turns into addiction. For many, the struggle seems to get far worse before it gets better. We cannot see how far we have drifted out into the ocean until we can’t find an anchor to pull us back in.

So, how then can we save ourselves from drifting off to sea?

Increases in Heavy Drinking are Leading to More Alcohol and Drug Abuse Cases

For many people struggling with alcohol or other substances, stopping their habits can feel like a monumental, if not impossible, task. Stopping drinking suddenly can lead to some very uncomfortable side effects. Your mind and body will yearn for relief so your resolve to stop drinking must be strong. This is one of the main reasons for relapse and why excessive drinking eventually leads to alcohol use disorder.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the average American family physician is seeing an increase in mental and physical health problems closely related to how much alcohol an individual drinks. Today, millions of Americans are addicted to alcohol, causing family problems and a national increase in digestive problems, liver disease, heart disease rates, psychological problems, and more.

However, even though a person’s health can be dramatically affected if they drink heavily, there is good news.

First, even though alcohol use disorders are chronic diseases, they are treatable. And second, not all people who enjoy drinking regularly are suffering from alcohol addiction.

Luckily there are a few ways to help you determine whether your standard drinks on a typical day are benign or if it’s time to seek the help of an addiction specialist.

What is it About Alcohol Anyways?

Alcohol is everything you want it to be.

And that is why it is so dangerous.

Technically speaking, this colorless, flammable liquid is the result of fermenting sugars during the process of making wine, beer, and spirits. It is a central nervous system depressant that slows down brain activity and changes mood. As such, many individuals partake in alcoholic beverages to help them improve their mood, let go of stressors, and “lighten up.” Others may use their “liquid courage” to be more social, creating an illusion of charisma and charm.

The mirage a singular liquid can create can change an individual’s entire life.

Though alcohol use can have positive behavioral effects and health benefits, when drinking in moderation is thrown out the window, the negative effects of an alcoholic drink can rise to the surface quickly.

Health Conditions Linked with Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

woman laying on couch. holding stomach in pain

An Alcohol Use Disorder Can Have Many Physical and Mental Health Effects

Alcoholism is a chronic disease that can have many ramifications, from unpleasant side effects to severe health conditions. These can include, but are not limited to:

  • Liver disease
  • Throat, mouth, breast, liver, or colon cancer
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Weakened immune system
  • Chronic racing heart rate
  • Heart disease
  • Higher risk of stroke
  • Digestive problems
  • Mental health problems (increased anxiety, depression, paranoia)

Having the occasional drink might be good for your health but drinking more alcohol than is recommended can have serious adverse consequences. Individuals who consume excessive alcohol risk domestic issues, health issues, and work problems. Many of them find it hard to save money. Others drink so much that they engage in risky behaviors like unsafe sex or drinking while driving.

The good news is with the help of a professional treatment provider, an alcohol use disorder can be treated!

Common Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Today, addiction treatment helps millions of individuals and their families heal from the effects of substance abuse. Beginning with a detoxification process, individuals may be provided with addiction medicine to help stave off some of the severe withdrawal symptoms associated with AUD. Though the process can be strenuous, ridding the body of all the toxins associated with alcohol use is imperative to proceed into the next phase of recovery.

Some of the withdrawal symptoms individuals may experience include:

  • Anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Headaches
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Agitation
  • Increased irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Racing heart
  • Nervousness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Disorientation

Individuals who struggle with a severe drinking disorder, consuming alcoholic drinks many times a week over an extended period of time, are more likely to develop severe withdrawal side effects including:

  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Status Epilepticus (seizures lasting longer than 5 minutes)
  • Delirium Tremens (DT)

These side effects are more likely to result in a medical emergency and emphasize the need for completing detox in a professional setting where a healthcare provider is available 24/7 to monitor an individual’s progress and intervene if needed.

Typically, physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal last seven to ten days, primarily depending on how heavily and frequently the individual was consuming alcohol. Psychological symptoms, however, can last for several more weeks or even months. This is just one of the reasons why professional addiction treatment that includes individual or group counseling is a far better option than simply quitting cold turkey. Getting to the root of your habits, understanding your triggers, and learning relapse prevention techniques are paramount to long-term sobriety.

Not Every Heavy Drinking Session Leads to Alcohol Addiction – So What Truly Defines An Alcoholic?

Alcoholism is a chronic disease that can affect almost anyone. It seeps into our lives, and if we aren’t careful, it can take everything away from us. Our health, family, relationships, career, and reputation can all be damaged.

But excessive alcohol consumption is not the same as alcohol dependence, nor does it necessarily always leads to addiction. A fine line must be observed when evaluating one’s relationship with alcohol and the overall drinking habits they engage in. There is a distinctive difference between frequent casual drinking and alcoholism. Do you know where the line is?

plastic cups scattered on floor.

One Drink Doesn’t Always Lead to Alcohol Addiction, But Chronic Abuse Can Get Out of Hand Quickly

Casual drinking is often defined by an individual who indulges in a few glasses of an alcoholic beverage over dinner or social gatherings. No binge drinking is apparent, and there are no blackouts or loss of memory associated with any of these events.

Binge drinking is the tipping point where tolerance and eventual dependency on alcohol may begin. Binge drinking is classified by how many standard drinks are consumed within about two hours. For women, it is four or more and for men, it is five or more.

Heavy drinking, on the other hand, is defined a little differently between the NIAAA and SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). SAMHSA qualifies 5 or more days of binge drinking in one month, as heavy drinking. On the other hand, the NIAAA defines heavy drinking as at least 4 drinks per day, or 14 drinks per week, for men and at least 3 drinks per day, or 7 drinks per week, for women.

An alcoholic, by definition, is an individual who is controlled and consumed by their insatiable cravings for their next drink. They are unable to control their use, despite knowing the negative consequences. It is this loss of control and disregard for consequences that identify alcoholism.

But how often have you heard someone say, “I can stop any time I want”?

Am I an Alcoholic?

Only YOU truly know the answer.

Sometimes the truth is apparent, but challenging to admit to ourselves, let alone others. As painful as the truth might be to bear, it is better to experience a little discomfort with ourselves at an earlier stage than further down the road when more damage can be caused to ourselves and those we care about deeply.

So what is the next step?

typing on a laptop.

Making an Honest Assessment of Your Alcohol Use Can Help Get You on the Path Towards Healing

Alcoholic Self Test: How to Know for Sure

When a person cannot stop drinking on their own, despite knowing the consequences, they are said to have an alcohol use disorder (AUD). According to the American Psychiatric Association, an individual can develop varying degrees of AUD from mild to moderate to severe.

After reading through the types of drinking behaviors that exist, do any of the habits seem familiar? If you’re concerned about how much you’ve been drinking or believe you may have developed an alcohol use disorder, you can begin with a self-assessment. Consider the following:

  • Do you feel a rush when you are about to pour a drink containing alcohol?
  • Are your thoughts consumed with finding alcoholic beverages?
  • Have most of your social events revolved around alcohol consumption in the past year?
  • Are you regularly engaging in hobbies that do not involve alcohol or a heavy drinking session?
  • Do you struggle with frequent blackouts or short-term memory loss with alcohol use?
  • Have you engaged in excessive drinking frequently in the past year?
  • Are you hiding your drinking habits from others?
  • Have you noticed yourself suffering from mood swings and heightened aggression with alcohol use?
  • Are you unable to control your level of alcohol consumption, whether alone or with others?
  • Have you tried to quit drinking in the past year, unsuccessfully?
  • Do you feel your time drinking impacts how “happy” you are?
  • Have you had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer, than you intended?

Having the occasional drink in life is fine. But, if your life revolves around drinking and getting your next drink, it may be time to seek the help of a professional. It can be challenging to watch ourselves, or the people closest to us struggle with what seems to be no end in sight. But there is hope for change and a bright future without alcohol.

For additional references on screening tools used by medical professionals to diagnose alcoholism, you can review The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) of the American Psychiatric Association or The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test: The AUDIT Test for Alcohol Addiction (Alcoholism) and speak to your healthcare provider.

Treatment Options for Alcohol Abuse

Deciding to attend rehabilitation treatment is a massive step in the right direction to changing your life for the better, forever. Many choose to live out their lives suffering in silence, unable or unwilling to make small changes to see drastic improvements with their struggles with alcohol.

What To Expect at Rehab?

For many, the concept of rehab conjures up images of uncomfortable conditions, strangers, and a strict schedule to adhere to. However, this isn’t the case.

people sitting in chairs during support group.

Rehabilitation at SJRP helps individuals face their past traumas and embrace a new life of freedom from the grips of alcohol or other substance abuse disorders. Our ultimate goal for our clients here at SJRP is to help them reach their full potential. We strive to help them recognize their strengths, evaluate weaknesses, learn how to manage temptations, and move forward in freedom.

The only way to truly grow and live a life of sobriety and independence is to treat the whole, not just parts, which is our primary goal.

What Therapies Are Offered for AUD?

Alcohol use disorder stems from very individual circumstances, and therefore, should be treated as such. At SJRP, we create individualized care plans with each client, best suited to their specific needs.

Different rehabs will offer different programs and different forms of therapy. We’ve created a multi-faceted program that focuses on holistic healing, offering a multitude of both evidence-based and complementary therapies to offer individuals countless opportunities for overcoming addiction. Some of our therapies include:

There are a variety of therapy options available at your disposal. Let us help you curate the right treatment program for you.

Can Rehab Truly Change Someone’s Life?

YES!

Choosing to attend rehab isn’t a sign of weakness or failure. It is a sign of strength, tenacity, and the ability to look in the mirror and know when you have reached your limit.

By choosing to attend treatment, you are saying YES to your life goals, YES to happiness, and YES to freedom and the ability to change the entire trajectory of your life.

Change is possible. We are waiting for you.

How To Help An Alcoholic

Deciding to reach out to someone you care about regarding their alcohol use is a brave step. Here are a few things to keep in mind when addressing such a delicate topic with your loved on:

  • Educate yourself. Try to learn more about the varying types of alcohol use. It is imperative to be 100% certain that the person you care about is genuinely suffering from a chronic disease and not just the facade of extreme alcohol abuse. Evaluate the current situation and then proceed.
  • Think before you speak. Before moving further, think about what you feel and what you want to say. Actions speak louder than words, and words can be more potent than we can imagine.
  • Be supportive and listen. Listen to how this individual is feeling and what they are going through. Sometimes complex problems only require simple solutions. Before broaching the subject, ensure that you have completed your due diligence and the appropriate research before bringing up treatment programs, rehabs, etc.

One of the most frequently asked questions is, “can you make someone go to rehab”?

Well. Yes and no. Laws regarding forced rehab vary by state. However, even if you can get them into rehab, it’s almost impossible to outright force someone to follow treatment if they do not feel it necessary. The most effective treatment will result when an individual comes to terms with their current predicament and understands that they require treatment and are willing to accept help.

Stop Drinking With The Help of St. John’s Recovery Place

St. John’s Recovery Place is a drug and alcohol rehab center with an idyllic location near Northern Central Florida. Dedicated to helping people heal in mind, body, and spirit, SJRP uses a holistic therapy approach to enrich their traditional service programs.

If you or a loved one struggles with alcohol use, St. John’s can help!

Accepting a wide variety of insurance policies and offering several alternative and traditional therapies, SJRP helps people heal through detox, residential, outpatient, and Alumni programs. Here at SJRP, you can learn to live again in a safe and quiet environment, letting the rays of the Florida sun shine down on your newly sprouting life.

If you want to know more about SJRP and how it may be a match for your healing journey, call us today at 833-397-3422. We look forward to getting to know you better!