What is Alcohol Addiction?

What is Alcohol Addiction
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Drinking too much alcohol at one time can cause immediate health issues. From headaches to vomiting, the overconsumption of alcohol can wreak havoc on the body in the short term. But what’s even worse than the short-term adverse effects of consuming too much alcohol are the long-term health concerns alcohol can cause. This is especially true when it comes to alcohol addiction.

If you or someone you love is living with an alcohol addiction, there’s no better time to get help. Every day that you continue to put alcohol into your body, you get closer to incurring serious health issues from alcohol. Long-term use or alcohol addiction can devastate the body. Addiction to alcohol can damage the brain, heart, liver, pancreas, and immune system, and has even been shown to increase a person’s risk of certain cancers.

There are millions of people living with alcohol issues. Let’s look at some alcohol addiction statistics. Alcohol addiction impacts 14.4 million adults in the United States according to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Deaths from alcohol-related causes in the United States in 2018 were around 88,000, making alcohol the third leading cause of preventable death in the nation.

Do you think you (or someone you love) may have an issue with alcohol? It’s helpful to understand the difference between heavy drinking and the definition of alcohol addiction before you answer. What many think is heavy drinking may actually be an addiction to alcohol.

So, what exactly is alcohol addiction? The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines alcohol addiction or alcohol use disorder (AUD) as a chronic and relapsing brain condition characterized by the inability to stop or cut down despite adverse consequences in one’s social life, health, and/or job.

Heavy drinking is defined by the NIAAA as binge drinking five or more days in a month. Binge drinking is defined as a pattern of drinking that brings the blood alcohol level (BAC) to 0.08 g/dl.

Let’s take a closer look at the signs of alcohol addiction.

Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction

To be diagnosed with an alcohol addiction or AUD, an individual must meet certain criteria as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). When someone experiences two of the following criteria for one year or longer, they are considered to have an alcohol addiction or AUD.

  • Trying to cut down on how much you drink or how often but unable to do so
  • Drinking more than intended or longer than planned
  • Being sick from drinking
  • Craving or ‘needing’ a drink
  • Negating family, work, or school responsibilities to drink or because you were sick from prior drinking
  • Continuing to drink despite negative consequences with family, friends, work, or having legal issues
  • Having to drink more to get the ‘relief’ or ‘effect’ you had from less alcohol before
  • Giving up or cutting back on hobbies or other activities you enjoyed before to make more time to drink
  • Continuing to drink after experiencing a memory loss or blackout during drinking
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when the effects of alcohol were wearing off; anxiety, shakiness, irritability, depression, nausea, sweating, restlessness, etc.

If you relate to any of the above, you may have an addiction to alcohol. When it comes to alcohol addiction, life can seem lonely, hopeless, and full of pain. But remember, you aren’t alone and there is help. Every day thousands of people who have a problem with alcohol take the vital first step, learn how to battle alcohol addiction, and go on to find vibrant, happy lives in recovery. You can too!

At Pinnacle Treatment Centers we know that battling an alcohol addiction can be tough. But you don’t have to do it on your own. Our compassionate staff is here to support you every step of the way. If you think you or someone you love needs help for alcohol addiction, visit us online or call today at 1-800-782-1520.

Headquartered in New Jersey, Pinnacle Treatment Centers is a recognized leader in comprehensive drug and alcohol addiction treatment serving more than 29,000 patients daily in California, Indiana, Kentucky, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. With more than 110 community-based locations, Pinnacle provides a full continuum of quality care for adult men and women which includes medically-monitored detoxification/withdrawal management, inpatient/residential treatment, partial hospitalization/care, sober living, intensive and general outpatient programming, and medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder.

Facility Spotlight

Recovery Works Elizabethtown
100 Diecks Drive
Elizabethtown, KY 42701
1 (844) 768-0389


The materials provided on the Pinnacle Blog are for information and educational purposes only. No behavioral health or any other professional services are provided through the Blog and the information obtained through the Blog is not a substitute for consultation with a qualified health professional. If you are in need of medical or behavioral health treatment, please contact a qualified health professional directly, and if you are in need of emergency help, please go to your nearest emergency room or dial 911.