What is Considered Alcohol Abuse?

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis completed medical school at The University of Mississippi Medical Center and residency in general psychiatry in 2003. He completed a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 2005. Following this, he served as Chief Medical Officer for 10 years of Brentwood Behavioral Healthcare a private health system including a 105-bed hospital, residential treatment, and intensive outpatient services.

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What Is Alcohol Abuse? Understanding and Overcoming Addiction

Alcohol is a legal substance that often permeates numerous aspects of society, from social get-togethers to celebratory events. Although it is legal to consume alcohol if you’re older than 21, it is crucial to acknowledge the thin line that separates moderate drinking from alcohol abuse. 

Recognizing the negative effects of too much alcohol consumption and taking the necessary steps toward recovery can bring light to a path overshadowed by addiction. Part of understanding alcohol abuse is knowing what signs and symptoms indicate a possible addiction, identifying withdrawal symptoms, and learning what treatment options are available.

Unraveling Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse, or alcohol use disorder (AUD), is identified as a pattern of drinking that disrupts a person’s life. A person suffering from AUD will often experience negative impacts on nearly all aspects of their life, ranging from personal to professional.

Personal Impacts

Excessive drinking can often lead to feelings of irritability, anxiety, and depression, which may eventually lead the person suffering to withdraw from social activities. As such, an alcohol addiction can harm personal relationships.

A person who finds themselves dependent on alcohol may lose interest in hobbies and other activities they once found enjoyable. If you suffer from alcohol dependency, you may notice a recurring pattern of opting to purchase alcohol rather than take care of financial responsibilities such as paying bills, rent, mortgage, or car payments.

Professional Impacts

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can cause physical impairments. You may notice a reduction in your cognitive abilities, blurred vision, and slurred speech. Functioning becomes increasingly difficult the more you drink. As such, your performance at work can suffer.

Consuming too much alcohol can also lead to a hangover, which is marked by uncomfortable side effects such as:

  • Headaches
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Nausea
  • Pain in the stomach
  • Lack of quality sleep
  • Depression, anxiety, and irritability
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue

Suffering from a hangover can impair your ability to function enough to get to work on time let alone carry out the duties of your job. One study discovered that people suffering from severe alcohol abuse miss approximately 32 days of work annually. Overall, workers suffering from alcohol use disorder missed over 232 million days of work a year.

Recognizing the Signs of Alcohol Addiction

Identifying alcohol addiction constitutes the first step toward healing. Awareness allows for timely intervention, which can prevent further deterioration of a person’s health and quality of life. Here are some signs that indicate a growing or established addiction to alcohol:

  • Increased tolerance to alcohol, requiring the consumption of great quantities to feel the effects
  • Thinking about drinking or when your next drink will be
  • Continuing to drink and unable to reach a stopping point once you start
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not consuming alcohol
  • Isolation from friends and family to drink
  • Neglecting personal and professional responsibilities
  • Experiencing more arguments with friends, family, and loved ones when you drink
  • Engaging in dangerous behaviors while drinking – promiscuity, drinking and driving, etc.

It is important to remain vigilant if you notice these signs in a loved one so that you can establish an early intervention. Early intervention helps smooth the path toward a lasting recovery.

Physical Signs of Alcohol Addiction

An addiction to alcohol doesn’t materialize overnight. Instead, it is a gradual progression that reveals itself through various physical symptoms that are often overlooked until they become more pronounced. The key to a timely intervention is recognizing these symptoms early on. Physical signs of an alcohol addiction include:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Loss of appetite or excessive eating
  • Decrease in personal grooming habits
  • Runny nose or sniffling
  • Sudden weight gain or weight loss
  • Slurred speech
  • Poor coordination

Psychological symptoms also manifest, which include both emotional and behavioral issues. The psychological symptoms often reveal how deeply rooted the alcohol addiction problem is and require a keen eye to identify them. Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty maintaining relationships
  • Secretive behavior
  • Constantly experiencing legal trouble, fights, and accidents
  • Feelings of fear, anxiety, or paranoia
  • Feeling “spaced out” or tired
  • Decrease in motivation
  • Mood swings, outbursts of anger, or irritability

If you notice that you or a loved one is experiencing the physical and psychological symptoms of alcohol addiction, seek help immediately. Defining Wellness Centers offers a trained, caring staff of professionals who are ready to assist you with your recovery.

Grasping the Withdrawal Symptoms of Alcohol

Withdrawal symptoms are often both physical and psychological. They manifest when a person who develops an addiction to alcohol suddenly stops drinking. Symptoms will vary in intensity depending on the severity of the alcohol dependence. They can range from mild to severe and may sometimes be life-threatening. Understanding these symptoms equips you with the knowledge to navigate the recovery journey safely.

Early Withdrawal Symptoms

Early withdrawal symptoms tend to surface within a few hours to a couple of days after consuming the last drink of alcohol. Early symptoms include:

  • Feelings of nervousness
  • Nausea
  • Tremors
  • Hallucinations
  • Cold sweats

Late Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms progress as more time passes, typically peaking within 72 hours. A person who participates in excessive drinking habits is more likely to experience the potentially dangerous side effects of late withdrawal symptoms. The symptoms are often more severe and require immediate medical attention to prevent complications. Delirium tremens, also known as DTs, is a late withdrawal symptom that can be quite severe. A person suffering from DTs may experience:

  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • High fever
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations

Withdrawal is a challenging phase made safer and easier with the help of medical professionals. Using the help of a rehab facility like Defining Wellness Centers can ease the symptoms and make the withdrawal experience more comfortable.

It is important that you do not attempt to withdraw from alcohol addiction on your own. Medical supervision can help relieve withdrawal symptoms and ensure that you are safe and secure. The seizures that can accompany alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening.

Recovering from Alcohol Addiction – Treatment Options

Recovery from alcohol use is a journey marked by determination, resilience, and the right interventions. In this battle against addiction, knowing the available avenues of treatment is half the battle won. When you arrive at Defining Wellness Center, we will explore the different types of treatment that stand as pillars of support and recovery to help you find the one that is best for you.


The first step in recovery often involves detoxification, where the body is given time to rid itself of the alcohol’s toxic influence. During this phase, medical supervision ensures the safety and management of withdrawal symptoms, facilitating a smoother transition into sobriety.

Detoxification centers offer medical supervision, which provides continuous monitoring to manage the withdrawal symptoms effectively. You will also have access to nutritional support to help replenish your body as it recovers. Furthermore, you will be provided emotional support to help you navigate through the initial challenges of this phase in your recovery.


Rehabilitation in post-detoxification aims to foster recovery through a structured program that addresses the underlying causes of addiction. Rehabilitation centers are equipped to provide both in-patient and outpatient rehabilitation.

Inpatient treatment provides a safe, solid environment where individuals receive round-the-clock medical and psychological support. This setting ensures the person can stay away from triggers that could lead to a relapse, fostering a supportive community that aids in recovery.

Outpatient treatment allows individuals to receive treatment while continuing with their daily lives. This flexibility makes it a preferred option for those who cannot take extended time off from work or family responsibilities. It combines therapy sessions, support groups, and sometimes medication to help maintain sobriety.

Therapy and Counseling

Therapy and counseling form the backbone of any alcohol treatment plan. Individual and group therapy sessions help to address underlying issues that may contribute to alcohol abuse, teaching new coping strategies and fostering a healthy lifestyle.

Support Groups

Support groups create a community of individuals who share similar experiences, offering encouragement and understanding. This solidarity helps in building resilience and maintaining sobriety. Support groups connect you with like-minded individuals experiencing many of the same struggles as you, which can make you feel more comfortable.

Peer Support and Sponsorship

Peer support and sponsorship programs provide individuals with a singular person they can reach out to when needed. A peer or sponsor is someone who helps hold you accountable and provides you with advice and support. For instance, if you are facing triggers that make your sobriety difficult, reach out to your peer or sponsor, and they can help you stay on track.

Why Choose Defining Wellness Centers

Defining Wellness Centers provides the support and medical professionalism that you need to experience a healthy recovery from alcohol abuse. We are a family-led center that uses evidence-based treatment and holistic healing practices to help you and others suffering from addiction issues. With a firm commitment to wellness, our center adopts an approach to treatment using the latest technological advancements with proven therapeutic methods.

Experienced Team

Here, you will find a dedicated team of experienced professionals who bring expertise and empathy to their practice. Their approach ensures that everyone receives personalized treatment, catering to their unique needs and fostering a nurturing environment.

State-of-the-art Facilities

The facilities we have here embody tranquility and comfort, providing a serene backdrop for the recovery journey. To further embody peace and recovery, we use therapies such as music therapy, art therapy, and equine-assisted therapy. We also encourage family therapy so that you and your loved ones can recover together from the effects that alcohol abuse has on you and those closest to you. Our facilities and programs prioritize your well-being while nurturing your ability to heal and grow.

Comprehensive Approach

The treatment we offer at Defining Wellness Centers goes beyond addressing the physical aspects of alcohol abuse. They delve deeper, focusing on healing the mind, body, and spirit. Through a combination of therapy, counseling, and educational programs, we equip individuals with the tools to build a fulfilling life, free from the shackles of addiction.

Long-term Recovery

Recovery is a continual journey. At Defining Wellness Centers, we emphasize long-term support, offering programs that assist individuals in maintaining sobriety and adapting to a healthier lifestyle post-treatment. This ongoing support is a testament to our dedication to seeing our clients succeed in their recovery journey.

Reach Out for Help Today

Defining Wellness Centers stands as a beacon of hope, illuminating the path to recovery with our comprehensive and person-centric approach. It is a sanctuary where healing occurs at all levels, fostering a transition into a life marked by wellness, fulfillment, and joy. Here, individuals find not just treatment but a home that nurtures their journey toward a brighter, alcohol-free future.

We await with open arms to welcome you to your recovery journey. Get in touch with our dedicated team of professionals as we stand ready to walk beside you every step of the way. Let’s work together to build a future where alcohol no longer dictates the narrative.

Begin your Recovery Today

If you are ready to take the step towards a new life, call Defining Wellness today and learn more about how we can help you.