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Alcohol Addiction: Signs, Causes & Treatment

Last Updated: December 26, 2023

Alcohol addiction is a serious issue in Orlando, Florida. But breaking free from addiction is possible, provided you seek help at an alcohol treatment center.

Despite alcohol’s legal status, the substance can have devastating effects on your physical and mental health. If you have an alcohol addiction, you may not be able to stop on your own. However, evidence-based treatment at an alcohol rehab can help start you on the path to recovery.

Alcohol Abuse in Orlando

Alcohol abuse is exceedingly common in Orlando. In Orange County, FL, approximately 18.2% of residents report binge drinking or heavy alcohol use, making up over 250,000 people. These numbers are just above the Florida state average of 18%.

As a whole, Florida has an outsized rate of alcohol-related issues. Recent reports from the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics show that in Florida:

  • 10,655 people die from alcohol-related deaths each year
  • The rate of alcohol-related deaths increased by 54% from 2015 to 2019
  • 85.9% of alcohol-related deaths are among people aged 35 years or younger

Many people who die from alcohol-related causes are living with an alcohol use disorder. This means they struggle to control their drinking. But evidence-based treatment can help.

Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a serious medical condition that prevents people from being able to stop drinking on their own. 

Drinking alcohol regularly can cause lasting changes in the brain. These changes lead to symptoms like alcohol cravings, withdrawal and tolerance. These symptoms can make recovery seem very hard to achieve.

Risk Factors for Alcoholism

Many factors contribute to whether a person develops AUD, including:

  • Genetics
  • History of trauma or abuse
  • Co-occurring mental health disorders
  • Early onset of alcohol use
  • Social factors

Certain groups may face disproportionate rates of AUDs as well. These include veterans and first responders.

These risk factors don’t guarantee that someone who drinks will go on to develop a problem with alcohol. However, they do strongly predict unhealthy drinking patterns. 

Signs of Alcohol Abuse

The American Psychiatric Association lists eleven key criteria for diagnosing an AUD. Experiencing just two of the following symptoms can lead to a diagnosis. Having four or five symptoms is considered to be a moderate substance use disorder. Six or more is considered severe.

  1. Drinking more than you planned or for longer than intended
  2. Having multiple failed attempts to cut down or stop alcohol use on your own
  3. Spending a lot of time drinking, seeking out alcohol, or recovering from its effects
  4. Experiencing alcohol cravings
  5. Struggling with your responsibilities at work, home, or school because of alcohol use
  6. Continuing to drink despite social or interpersonal problems caused by alcohol
  7. Giving up on hobbies or activities because of alcohol use
  8. Drinking alcohol when it is dangerous to do so, such as while driving
  9. Continuing to use alcohol despite worsening health problems
  10. Having an increasing tolerance for alcohol
  11. Experiencing physical or mental withdrawal symptoms when alcohol use suddenly stops

If you or a loved one are showing multiple signs of alcohol abuse, it’s vital that you seek treatment at an evidence-based treatment center. When they are left untreated, AUDs can cause serious complications in your health and personal life.

Complications From Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol use disorder can negatively impact your life in a few ways. 

  • Physical health: Alcohol misuse has been linked to several types of cancer. It can also increase your blood pressure and stroke risk. The liver may become damaged beyond repair as well.
  • Mental health: People living with AUD are at much higher risk of developing mental health disorders. These conditions include anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Personal life: AUDs are related to job problems, unemployment and family conflict.

Fortunately, most complications from AUD are reversible. However, people typically require intensive treatment in order to recover.

Alcohol Withdrawal

One of the most dangerous aspects of alcohol addiction is potential alcohol withdrawal. Frequent alcohol use causes the body to adjust to the drug’s depressant effects. When alcohol is no longer present, the brain becomes dangerously overstimulated. This typically appears as symptoms such as:

  • Tremors or shakes
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Heart palpitations

Severe alcohol withdrawal is known as delirium tremens. This dangerous condition has the same symptoms as withdrawal but with the added effects of:

  • Delirium
  • Visual and auditory hallucinations
  • Stroke

Alcohol withdrawal strokes are often fatal. However, you can achieve sobriety safely if you reach out to a facility with medically supervised detox.

In alcohol detox, people are under 24/7 medical observation. Their doctors determine the severity of their symptoms. Then, they may use medications to manage uncomfortable symptoms and reduce the risk of complications. 

Remember — quitting alcohol alone is not advised. You should always reach out to a specialized facility for help.

Treatment for Alcohol Abuse

Overcoming alcohol use disorder might seem impossible. But that’s not the case. Many people can recover if they go to a specialized rehab center that uses proven treatments. Alcohol treatment uses various methods to help with withdrawal and addiction. With these interventions, people can find health and happiness in sobriety.

Alcohol addiction treatments may include:

  • Medication-assisted treatment: This treatment uses medicines to reduce AUD symptoms like cravings and withdrawal.
  • Individual and group therapy: Talking with therapists either one-on-one or in groups can help people recover. Methods include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).
  • Relapse prevention programs: These programs teach people how to avoid relapse, understand the process and develop healthy coping methods.
  • Family therapy: AUDs affect the entire family. Working with a family therapist can start the path to healing the relationships damaged by alcohol misuse.
  • Recreational therapies: These therapies help people in recovery find joy in their new, sober life, improving their physical and mental health.

At Orlando Recovery Center Drug and Alcohol Rehab, we offer many alcohol addiction treatment options led by train medical professionals. Our levels of care include medical detox, inpatient rehabilitation and intensive outpatient programs (IOPs). No matter where you are in your recovery journey, our team will be there every step of the way.

Get your loved one the care they need.


Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Behavioral Health Barometer: Florida, Vo[…] Treatment Services.” 2020. Accessed October 10, 2021.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder.” April 2021. Accessed October 10, 2021.

Florida Department of Health. “2019 Florida Behavioral Risk Factor Surv[…]m (BRFSS) Data Book.” Floridahealth.gov, August 2020. Accessed October 10, 2021.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Sobering Facts: Drunk Driving in Florida.” Accessed October 10, 2021.

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