Join us as we chat with Rob Fezekas, Clinical Director of Avenues Louisiana Region, about recognizing signs of alcohol abuse in ourselves and loved ones.
How do you know if you’ve gone from drinking alcohol for enjoyment, to alcohol addiction?
There are some signs to be aware of, and help is available today. Robert Fezekas, Clinical Director of Avenues Recovery Center in Covington, is here to talk about what to look for whether in yourself or in a family member or friend.
Alcohol addiction is a hard topic to talk about, because New Orleans is a city full of alcohol culture. How prevalent is alcohol addiction right now, whether it’s in our state or just our country?
In the 2021 national survey on drug use and health, researchers found that 10% of individuals aged 12 and over suffer with an alcohol use disorder. 10% may not sound like a lot, but that equates to around 29 million individuals – fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, children who are suffering from an addiction that is chronic, progressive, and quite often fatal if left untreated.
A lot of people love a drink here and there. But there is a clear difference when it becomes something beyond a casual outlet. It’s an addiction. And there are different areas of your life that suffer. Alcohol addiction can cause relational problems, employment issues, financial issues, legal issues, health issues… The problems just continue to stack up the further and deeper you get into active addiction.
Every person should take an honest look at themselves and think: Are these areas of my life becoming a problem? What is the source of these issues in my life? It could be alcohol addiction.
And what’s interesting is that there’s something medical going on when it comes to alcohol addiction. Let’s explain the concepts of dependence and tolerance.
Dependence is defined as the state of being controlled by something or relying on something in order to function day-to-day. Tolerance is defined as the need to drink more alcohol to get the same effects as before, when drinking less.
Quite often, the person who is drinking casually doesn’t understand that they’re starting to approach the line of becoming dependent. They drink, and often their drinking increases to unhealthy amounts. Instead of just drinking on a Saturday, they’re now drinking three times a week. The frequency goes up, and quite often the amount goes up as well. Now they’re no longer drinking two drinks; they’re drinking six drinks. They’re using more alcohol in order to get the same effects as they used to.
People may wonder: How do I know if I have a problem? What are some of the signs of alcohol addiction to look out for?
Tolerance usually turns into dependence. Now the person no longer has a choice. I’m no longer drinking because I want to drink; I’m drinking because I’m dependent, and when I try to stop, I experience a series of painful withdrawal symptoms. Nausea, vomiting, chills, sweating, tremors… The body has undergone a physiological change and become dependent on alcohol. If you experience any of these symptoms when trying to cut back on alcohol intake, that’s a telltale sign that you have become dependent on alcohol.
But what if you’re concerned that a friend or loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction? What are some telltale external signs to look out for?
Here are some top signs of alcohol addiction in a loved one or friend:
- Increased frequency of drinking
- Increased amounts when drinking
- Dangerous/ reckless/ irresponsible behavior
- Low, depressed mood
- Isolation, abandoning hobbies or social life
- Difficulty managing personal obligations (i.e. work, school, family and friends)
Once you recognize that your loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction, the next step is to explain to them that they need to get professional help. Having that discussion can be incredibly difficult, though, especially when the person struggling is so close to your heart. Some of the most important conversations we have with our loved ones can be hard, but they need to happen – and they need to be honest.
Quite often, the person struggling may be genuinely unaware that they have a legitimate issue, or they may be in denial. And it’s you as a family member that recognizes the signs – you see they’re having difficulty paying their bills. They’re not showing up to family events, or showing up intoxicated. They’re drinking more than ever before, and continuing despite the negative consequences.
It’s so important to remember that help is available. If you suffer from addiction, you don’t have to continue on a downward spiral – there is help and hope for you! Avenues Recovery Center offers premier, individualized addiction treatment across all levels of care – detox, residential treatment, partial hospitalization (PHP), intensive outpatient (IOP), and outpatient treatment. Avenues has three Louisiana locations, and facilities across the United States as well. You can call and speak to a skilled treatment specialist any time of day or night.
Withdrawal is often one of the biggest deterrents from entering treatment, because nobody wants to feel sick. Withdrawal symptoms:
- Can be physical or psychological
- Nausea, sweats, chills, headache, low energy
- Depressed mood, isolation, cognitive impairment, poor insight and judgement.
At the detox level of care, Avenues’ main goal is to get the person out of the unhealthy environment they are in, and place them in a safe setting with 24-hour medical and clinical monitoring and care.
Because when not handled properly, withdrawal symptoms can be serious – and even fatal.
If any of the symptoms described above sound familiar, you or a loved one may be suffering from alcohol use disorder. Reach out to Avenues Recovery today to speak to a skilled admissions representative, who can answer all of your questions and guide you to the appropriate level of care.
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