Understand Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol addiction is a chronic relapsing disorder characterized by impulsive drinking despite negative consequences. 

At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD).

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By: Renaissance Recovery

Clinically Reviewed by: Diana Vo, LMFT

Last Updated:


What Is Alcohol Addiction?

The CDC characterizes alcohol abuse as any form of alcohol consumption that leads to damaged health and relationships, as well as impacting your ability to work. While all alcohol addictions vary slightly, they are all grounded in alcohol abuse.

Addiction is defined as a chronic and relapsing disease. Addiction is often used interchangeably with severe substance use disorder.

According to 2022 NSDUH data, 29.5 million people in the United States had alcohol use disorder in the past year. 

Heavy drinking and binge drinking each qualify as alcohol abuse.

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Is Alcohol Addictive?

Experts almost universally agree with this concept of addiction as a disease, and while addiction has no cure, it can be treated, and effectively treated.

If untreated, ethanol alcohol addiction can be physically and emotionally damaging. Long-term alcohol abuse can also bring about permanent changes to brain structure and functioning.

Most estimates suggest up to 50% of your risk profile for any addiction is genetic. Beyond this, a variety of environmental and social factors also play a role in whether or not you become addicted to a substance like alcohol.

As addiction starts to build, you’ll find you require more alcohol to achieve the same effects as tolerance grows. By this point, you’ll also be liable to experience intense withdrawal symptoms if you stop drinking alcohol.

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Alcohol Addiction Symptoms

When drinking alcohol becomes habitual, you’ll find you don’t feel normal when you have no alcohol in your system. This is when addiction becomes psychological. You feel that you require alcohol even if you are not physically dependent.

Physical addiction sets in once you are unable to quit drinking without experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms, such as these signs of alcohol addiction:

Both physical and psychological alcohol addiction is rooted in the way alcohol impacts the brain. When you consume alcohol, this releases endorphins in the areas of the brain responsible for reward processing.

Alcohol, then, hits home at the chemical level in several areas of the brain. At a psychological level, alcohol abuse can make you feel unable to properly function in the absence of alcohol. This is the reason why alcoholic relapse is so common.

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Fight Back Against Alcoholism

Get evidence-based treatment to overcome alcohol addiction at Renaissance Recovery. Call our team now to learn more about the process.

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Common Alcohol Abuse Symptoms

The following are considered the primary symptoms of alcohol addiction:

  • Being dishonest and secretive about your drinking
  • Inability to refuse alcohol
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and favored activities
  • Irritability and anger
  • Impaired physical appearance
  • Reduced levels of personal hygiene
  • Looking tired or sick
  • Being frequently intoxicated
  • Growing tolerance for alcohol
  • Patterns of binge drinking
  • Withdrawal symptoms in the absence of alcohol
  • Co-occurring mental health problems

What To Do if You Have an Alcohol Addiction

If your alcohol consumption is starting to take over your life and to harm your physical wellbeing, it might be time to consider alcohol addiction therapy.

Addiction is not something to ignore.

Many people who abuse alcohol think of themselves as a high-functioning alcoholic, but any form of alcohol abuse is dangerous. If you think that you or a loved one has is a problem drinker, it is vital to seek out help sooner rather than later.

Get Help at Renaissance Recovery

If you need help today, contact Renaissance Recovery, we area drug and alcohol treatment center with locations in California and Florida. At Renaissance we have expert clinicians and strong alumni programs so that clients can get develop the knowledge and support they need to commit to long-term recovery.

Our Addiction Treatment Programs

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

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