Unlike illegal substances, alcohol is widely accepted by society, and this makes it more difficult to determine if a loved one’s alcohol use has crossed the line into abuse and addiction.

Also, people have different ideas of what it means to be “an alcoholic.” The fact is alcohol abuse through binge drinking and heavy drinking is every bit as dangerous as daily-drinking alcoholism.

How Prevalent Is Alcoholism?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), there are about 17 million Americans who qualify as having an alcohol use disorder (AUD). However, most of those people will deny that they are alcoholics, or alcohol abusers and will claim that they aren’t like other addicts.

Those who abuse alcohol may think they are somehow better than someone abusing drugs, and they commonly try to minimize and deny the severity of their problem and claim that they’ve got the situation under control.

However, there are ways to tell if your loved one’s drinking habits have crossed the line and call for professional help.

When an Alcohol Habit Becomes Alcohol Addiction

Know the Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction

Most people tend to assume that overconsumption of alcohol is simply a bad habit, and that the person can stop if they just make a commitment to do so. This may be true of habits, which are under a person’s voluntary control. But when habit turns into addiction, the addicted person is no longer able to simply stop – which is one of the telltale signs of addiction.

Signs of Alcohol Addiction

Other ways to tell that your loved one’s alcohol habit is crossing the line into addiction include:

  • Drinking alone often
  • Hiding one’s drinking and/or hiding the extent of drinking
  • Consistently using alcohol to cope with stress or other difficulties
  • Drinking is affecting work, school and other obligations
  • Putting self and/or others in danger, such as by driving while drunk, operating machinery, etc.
  • Problems with relationships due to drinking
  • Legal issues stemming from drinking
  • Loss of interest in activities that once brought joy
  • Blacking out while drinking, unable to remember events that happened while drunk
  • Willpower alone is not sufficient to stop drinking, even when he or she knows the dangerous consequences of drinking
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms (not just hangovers) and having to drink to function in daily life

Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

Percentage of Adults in 2014 That Were Heavy Alcohol Abusers Statistic Infographic

Withdrawal symptoms are more severe than hangover symptoms, and may lead a person to drink constantly in order to keep the symptoms at bay. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening in some cases, which is why a person should always detox under medical supervision.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Headache
  • Seizures
  • Delirium

Effects of Alcohol Abuse

In addition to withdrawal symptoms, a person suffering from alcohol addiction, especially in the long term, may also experience:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Malnourishment
  • Liver disease
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Cancer

When to Seek Professional Alcohol Addiction Intervention

If your loved one is in denial about his or her alcohol addiction, you may find that a professional interventionist can make progress where you have failed when it comes to convincing the loved one to go to rehab. Interventionists have seen it all and heard it all and they know what to say – and what not to say – to convince a person to seek treatment.

What Does Treatment for Alcohol Addiction Involve?

The goal of a successful alcohol addiction treatment program should be to help the client lead a healthy life without the need for alcohol. There are three main components to treatment.

Alcohol Detox

Treatment begins with detox – clearing the body of the addictive substance with support from medical professionals to help ease the symptoms of withdrawal.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening in some cases, which is why we always recommend a professional, medically supervised detox program. After all, why take a chance with your loved one’s life?

Addressing the Root Cause of Alcohol Addiction

After the detox process is complete, the therapy and education component of the addiction treatment process begins. A high-quality alcohol rehab program will utilize a variety of treatment methods, customized to the individual’s needs, which may include:

  • One-on-one counseling
  • Group counseling
  • Education sessions teaching life skills such as healthy eating, coping with stress,
  • Experiential therapy using outlets such as art, sports, music, recreation, etc.

It’s important that alcohol addiction treatment addresses the underlying issues that caused the person to overconsume in the first place. Addressing the underlying causes of addiction helps greatly reduce a person’s chance of relapsing after treatment.

Aftercare and Family Support

Once a person leaves the treatment program, it’s important to continue supporting them in their sobriety. This may come in the form of a formal aftercare or alumni program. Family members can also be trained on how best to support their loved ones after treatment.

In addition, it’s important for family members to seek professional education and counseling to help them deal with the impact of addiction. Addiction often runs in families, and one family member’s addiction can easily lead others to a similar coping mechanism.

When everyone in the family gets the help they need – regardless of whether or not they themselves have an addiction – they can support each other rather than enabling addiction in a family member.

How Do I Pay for Alcohol Rehab

Now that you know what to look for, the next question may be, “How do I pay for the addiction treatment my loved one needs?” We suggest you begin by starting here to get an idea of what your insurance company might cover before you start evaluating potential treatment programs.

Want to Know How Insurance Coverage Works for Alcohol Rehab?

Learn About Insurance for Rehab