Addiction to alcohol has been classified as a mental disorder for many years, with alcohol abuse first listed as a separate diagnosis in the official manual of mental disorders in 1980. Now formally known as alcohol use disorder, today this illness affects an estimated 12.7% of Americans and 18.4% of people across the globe, making it the most commonly diagnosed substance use disorder in the nation and the world. Heavy drinking is even more common than smoking tobacco, and is almost five times more prevalent than the most commonly used drug (marijuana).
If you are struggling with alcohol addiction, you are far from alone. Millions of people are impacted by alcoholism, from those diagnosed with alcohol use disorder to their families and friends. At The Kimberly Center, we understand deeply how alcohol addiction can enter your life and refuse to leave. It is our mission to help you take control of your addiction and to work with you to help you identify the right ways for you to live a productive and sober life.
What is Alcohol Addiction?
Addiction occurs when you abuse a psychoactive substance, like alcohol, that alters the way your brain produces certain chemicals. When these changes happen in your brain, your emotions and sensations are thrown out of balance — some parts of the brain become overactive and some function less than they should. What’s more, psychoactive substances introduce new chemicals to your brain that can produce more powerful sensations that your body is capable of producing naturally. This interferes with long-term brain function because it changes the amounts and types of signals that your neural pathways need to function.
Over time, your body can become accustomed to the influence of alcohol and what was once healthy and sober brain activity can start to feel wrong. You’ll find yourself building a tolerance — that is, needing to drink higher quantities of alcohol before you feel the effects. You may start to feel more “normal” while you are drinking, but when you stop you may feel depressed, anxious or ill. This is called withdrawal, and is a sign that your body is becoming dependent on alcohol. After tolerance and dependence, addiction quickly sets in — you’ll increasingly feel like you need alcohol to get through the day, and eventually these cravings will be irresistible. Addiction is typically characterized by feeling compelled to use alcohol to feel good, even though you know it is damaging your health and your life.
Signs of Alcohol Addiction
Since drinking is so prevalent and normalized in our society, people very often struggle to identify when someone’s relationship with alcohol has become problematic. Drinking to get drunk is viewed as a leisure activity or a fun time, and even “blacking out” or binge drinking is considered acceptable in some environments. But feeling intoxicated — especially to the point of memory loss or illness — is not our brain’s normal state of being, and drinking should always be approached with caution. If you are beginning to notice that someone is frequently drinking heavily, that their personality or behavior is changing due to alcohol consumption or that they are endangering their health or life due to drinking, it might be time to encourage them to seek help for their drinking.
Some other common signs of alcohol addiction include:
- Binge drinking
- Drinking alone or at inappropriate times
- Lying about drinking habits
- Sudden personality changes
- Lethargy or disinterest in typical hobbies and responsibilities
- Aggressive behavior or irritability
- Financial difficulty
- Losing a job or a relationship due to drinking
- Using drinking to deal with difficult emotions or feelings
If you or a loved one may be addicted to or abusing alcohol, you should contact The Kimberly Center or an addiction recovery resource in your area right away. The sooner you get the help you need, the better — ignoring substance abuse and addiction can have dangerous outcomes from permanent changes in brain chemistry to a fatal overdose. If you aren’t sure if you or your loved one is really addicted to alcohol, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Seeking an evaluation and diagnosis by a professional healthcare provider is the best way to get help and make sure you or your loved one receives the right kind of treatment.
Treating Alcohol Addiction
Medically speaking, there is no genuine cure for addiction; it is considered a chronic illness. However, it is possible for anyone struggling with addiction — no matter how long you have been addicted to or abusing a substance — to live a life free of addiction and substance abuse with the right kind of care and management. Short-term detox programs can ensure that you overcome the withdrawal process safely, while long-term therapy and support will keep you on the road to recovery. Modern treatment for alcoholism has shown itself to be successful time and again; no patient is beyond hope for healing, and at The Kimberly Center we take this to heart.
Since every person’s experience with alcohol addiction is different, treatment is often most successful when the care you receive is individualized and when your therapy plan focuses on your needs. At The Kimberly Center, our programs are designed to be customized. We offer a range of services that can be combined to fit your background, lifestyle and schedule, including:
Our programs utilize a range of evidence-based therapy options so our clients can discover the treatments that work best for them. From individual psychotherapy to traditional 12-Step methods to cognitive behavioral therapy, we carefully select the methods we use based on proven track records of efficacy and success for people of all backgrounds.
Is Alcohol Addiction Treatment at The Kimberly Center Right for You?
We are fortunate to live in a world where awareness about alcoholism and best treatment practices are quickly spreading. This means that there are multitudes of options available to people who have decided to seek help for their addiction — there are treatment resources for every budget, for people who want gender- or age-specific programs and for people who need help with addiction and co-occurring mental health diagnoses.
The Kimberly Center offers flexible, individualized treatment. We focus on detox and outpatient care for people who need to maintain work, school or family responsibilities while getting help for alcoholism or drug addiction. We welcome adult men and women from a variety of backgrounds and are equipped to help people with a wide range of concerns. If you want help for alcoholism and you aren’t sure where to begin, we encourage you to give us a call — we will help you determine if our programs are the right fit, and will be able to connect you with local resources if you have concerns or need we cannot address.
Contact The Kimberly Center
The Kimberly Center is proud to provide evidence-based, compassionate addiction treatment for adults in Fort Myers, Florida. We focus on giving you the attention and tools you need to learn to live your life completely substance-free, emphasizing your inner strength and the importance of a strong support system. To learn more about the services we offer and to find out if our programs are right for you or someone close to you, contact us today at 855-452-3683.