Alcohol and Diabetes

Alcohol and Diabetes | Recovery by the Sea

Alcohol and Diabetes – Substance use disorders are characterized by the abuse of alcohol or drugs that causes multiple physical and mental impairments in addition to a loss of social, academic, and professional functions. An otherwise healthy individual may experience a reversal of many of these problems if he or she receives substance abuse treatment and quits drinking.

However, this may not hold true for persons with diabetes – substance abuse can be immediately life-threatening in ways that would not affect others.

Types of Diabetes

Diabetes, also referred to as diabetes mellitus, is a condition in which the body is unable to regulate blood sugar levels properly. There are two forms known as type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes, also known as insulin-dependent or juvenile diabetes, develops as a result of a loss of cells in the pancreas responsible for making insulin, and therefore, leads to a lack of production of insulin. Type 1 diabetes is often diagnosed in childhood.

Type 2 diabetes, which is more common, is caused by the body’s inability to use insulin properly and is referred to as insulin resistance. At the onset, the pancreas starts to make extra insulin in an effort to override the body’s resistance, but eventually, the pancreas cannot produce the amount of insulin needed to maintain blood sugar levels.

Uncontrolled Diabetes – Medical Problems

Alcohol and Diabetes | Recovery by the Sea

Uncontrolled diabetes may lead to dangerous conditions such as hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia. Hyperglycemia is described as abnormally high blood sugar levels, which happens when insulin in the body is insufficient. Hypoglycemia, conversely, refers to abnormally low blood sugar levels and occurs when there is a surplus of insulin in the body and inadequate sugar in the blood as glucose.

Both of these complications can result in dangerous health problems such as the following:

  • Organ damage if hyperglycemia develops
  • Increased vulnerability to high blood pressure
  • Damage to blood vessels in the eyes, which can result in blindness
  • Nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy) which can cause skin ulcers and other injuries that heal inadequately
  • Paralysis and the amputation of limbs as a result of nerve damage or other injuries
  • Blood vessel damage in the heart, which raises the risk of atherosclerosis, strokes, and cardiac arrest
  • Coma or death due to either hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia

Also, when insulin levels are insufficient, the body may begin to break down fat to use as energy, but this, in turn, causes acids called ketones to accumulate in the bloodstream. This condition is known as diabetic ketoacidosis and is a medical emergency. Complications such as these are exacerbated by alcohol or drug abuse. Finally, alcohol abuse in conjunction with a poor diet has been identified as possible causes for type 2 diabetes.

Alcohol and Diabetes: The Impact

If a person with diabetes already experiences high blood pressure, nerve damage, or eye problems, the use of alcohol is not recommended. This is because, at least in part, wine and beer contain carbohydrates that can be transformed into glucose (sugar) and therefore, drinking alcohol may cause blood sugar levels to increase rapidly.

Alcohol Impairs the Liver

Drinking alcohol also prevents the liver from releasing stored glucose, which can result in dangerously low blood sugar levels. It takes approximately two hours for the liver to break down the alcohol that is contained in just a single drink. This energy spent could be otherwise used for the regular release of stored glucose.

Overall, alcohol reduces the body’s reaction time, interrupts the liver’s ability to release glucose, and may cause individuals with diabetes to develop hypoglycemia gradually.

For people with Type 1 diabetes, even a small amount of alcohol can lead to the onset of hypoglycemia hours later. These types of problems can worsen substantially for individuals with diabetes who drink heavily.

And terrifyingly, the symptoms of intoxication and hypoglycemia can be similar. Failure to identify a hypoglycemic episode (versus alcohol intoxication) can result in the diabetic person not receiving appropriate care.

Alcohol Exacerbates Nerve Damage

Alcohol and Diabetes | Recovery by the Sea

Among the complications of unmanaged diabetes is nerve damage, and excessive alcohol use can make the symptoms worse. When diabetic nerve damage develops, it can impact both sensory and motor function.

Alcohol abuse can also result in hyperalgesia, a condition in which damaged nerves become more sensitive to pain. Moreover, if a person with diabetes is already encountering pain from nerve damage, heavy alcohol use can significantly intensify the amount of pain experienced.

Also, alcohol abuse can cause the perpetual release of certain hormones that function to control pain and limit additional damage to the body. What occurs, however, is a continued increase in central nervous system activity, which will actually serve to increase pain signaling.

Ultimately, excessive alcohol intake makes it much more difficult for the body to manage pain developed from diabetic nerve damage, and in doing so, causes the person’s condition to worsen dramatically.

Alcohol Abuse and Eye Problems

Alcohol abuse can exacerbate any eye disease that is due to diabetes. Alcohol decreases brain activity, which causes pupils to respond slower and thus hinders their ability to widen or constrict correctly.

Over time, this can also permanently weaken the eye muscles, and as a result, heavy alcohol use can result in blurry vision permanent double vision – especially in diabetics who already have existing vision problems.

Alcohol consumption also prompts blood vessels in the eyes to swell, and this causes the characteristic red, bloodshot appearance.

Other Problems Associated with Alcohol and Diabetes – Food and Medication

Alcohol and Diabetes | Recovery by the Sea

Alcohol also diminishes the effectiveness of insulin injections/pumps that many type 1 diabetics use, as well as certain medications that foster insulin activity in type 2 diabetics. Some diabetes drugs (such as sulfonylureas and meglitinides) also lower blood glucose levels by stimulating the pancreas to make more insulin. Combining the blood-sugar-reducing effects of the medication with alcohol can result in hypoglycemia.

Drinking alcohol can dramatically increase hunger in many people, and intoxicated persons often make unfortunate food choices, overeat, forget to eat, and sometimes eat but then forget just a short time later that they consumed food. The combination of overeating in addition to alcohol’s potential to reduce the effectiveness of medication can easily lead to high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia).

Finally, alcohol has a lot of calories and doesn’t do great things for the body’s metabolic rate. For people who are overweight, which is common among those with type 2 diabetes, drinking alcohol will only add empty calories and make it very difficult, if not impossible to lose weight.

Treatment for Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a devastating disease regardless of the individual’s physical or mental well-being, but people with diabetes are at a much higher risk of life-threatening problems and irreversible damage to one’s health.

Alcohol addiction is most effectively treated with a comprehensive approaching that includes detox, therapy, counseling, group support, and long-term aftercare. Our center offers 24/7 supervision on an inpatient basis, as well as intensive outpatient treatment for those who have completed an inpatient stay or require a more flexible schedule for treatment.

If you or someone you love has an alcohol use disorder, please contact us as soon as possible. You CAN regain your life and experience the happiness and wellness you deserve!

Alcohol Detox at Home

Alcohol Detox at Home | Recovery by the Sea

For those with an alcohol addiction, quitting for good can seem like an impossibility. Alcohol dependency results in highly unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and cravings upon cessation, and it is these effects that often compel would-be recoverers to relapse.

While staging an alcohol detox at home without medical supervision is not advised and in rare cases can be fatal, people do frequently choose this method. Those who, for whatever reason, must forego a clinical detox should be aware of the risks involved and under no circumstances should do it without someone else there in case of a medical emergency.

The Risks

Some people opt for an alcohol detox at home for comfort reasons. Keep in mind, however, that this “comfort” is often more psychological than physical. Moreover, physical comfort and safety are often better achieved with a clinical detox, as medications can be administered that alleviate many of the worst – and possibly life-threating – symptoms of withdrawal.

Unfortunately, there is much uncertainty associated with detox from alcohol. Relapse aside, there is also a very real possibility of severe depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideations. Finally, a condition known as Delirium Tremens (DTs) can occur. Symptoms include confusion, hallucinations, and seizures, and complications can ultimately result in death.


If you do decide that detoxing at home is right for you, it’s critical that you do it safely. Here are some things to consider when undergoing an alcohol detox at home:

  • Remove all alcoholic beverages from your home – this may sound obvious, but it’s an essential first step when self-detoxing. Moreover, when you first begin experiencing withdrawal symptoms, you may not be able to control your cravings. It’s far better to avoid the temptation altogether.
  • Free up your schedule – For some, clearing one’s schedule for days or weeks may seem implausible, but it’s necessary for a detox to be successful. There will likely be benefits from taking time off work or school and relinquishing some responsibilities – at least temporarily – to focus on recovery.
  • Find support – Just because you’re undergoing an alcohol detox at home doesn’t mean you should suffer through it alone. Find a friend or family member who can keep you safe during the process and who can get help if withdrawal symptoms get too serious.

Nutrition and Hydration During Alcohol Detox

Alcohol Detox at Home | Recovery by the Sea

When your body is going through withdrawals, food will probably be the last thing on your mind. Alcohol withdrawal causes a wide variety of symptoms including fatigue, anxiety, depression, loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting.

These symptoms typically last between 24-72 hours and may significantly curb your appetite.

Remember that these symptoms are normal, but make sure you drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated during this time as it will help rid your body of toxins.

Water, juice, and broth are healthy choices during the early stages of withdrawal. Don’t forget, however, that eating healthy is an important part of your recovery because alcohol alters how your body breaks down and uses nutrients.

Once you can start eating again, it’s crucial to focus on consuming a healthy, balanced diet. Eat foods from all food groups in sufficient amounts to help meet your caloric needs. Eat as many fruits and vegetables as you can stand, but don’t neglect whole grains and lean protein.

Take Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

If you’ detox at a hospital or inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment center, you will usually be prescribed medications to help relieve withdrawal symptoms. At home, you won’t have that luxury. But there are vitamins and mineral supplements you can take, however, that can be beneficial and help remove toxins. Some of these include B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, and multivitamins.

Pros and Cons

Alcohol Detox at Home | Recovery by the Sea

Alcohol detox can be a hazardous process, which is why most medical professionals and addiction experts believe it is best handled in a reputable clinical environment.

Alcohol detoxification causes physical and emotional symptoms that can be severe, and in many cases, very challenging to suffer through without medical assistance.

While detoxing at home may seem like the best method financially, it’s also very risky. While an alcohol detox at home is most often discouraged by medical professionals, it can be done. If you opt to detox from alcohol at home, make sure you’re in a safe, alcohol-free environment and have access to support from family and/or friends who can help you get through it.

Please remember, if at any point the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are too painful or severe, you should seek help from a medical professional immediately.

Treatment for Alcohol or Drug Addiction

If you are able to undergo a medical detox, this will be the first step in treatment for addiction. Those who detox at home should also strongly consider professional treatment following this process. Once the body has rid itself of toxins, those seeking a full recovery should seek participation in either an inpatient or outpatient environment that includes evidence-based approaches such as behavioral therapy, counseling, and group support.

Our programs are comprehensive, customized, and include medical and mental health staff who specialize in addiction. We can provide you with the tools and support you need to regain your life and enjoy longstanding sobriety, happiness, and wellness.

How Does Alcohol Affect the Brain?

How Does Alcohol Affect the Brain? | Recovery by the Sea

Short-term effects of alcohol use on the brain are evident – impaired people exhibit difficulty walking, slower reaction times, blurred vision, slurred speech, and memory problems. Some of these effects are identifiable after only a drink or two and rapidly abates once the drinking stops. But alcohol’s effect on the brain goes far beyond short-term manifestations.

Moreover, an individual who consumes an excessive amount of alcohol over an extended period of time may develop brain deficits that continue long after he or she becomes sober.

Researchers now know that heavy drinking can have extensive and longstanding effects on the brain, ranging from memory lapses to a permanent, debilitation condition that requires custodial or palliative care. In fact, even moderate drinking can result in temporary impairment.

Several factors influence how and to what degree alcohol impacts the brain, including the following:

  • How frequently and how much an individual drinks
  • The age that a person begins drinking, and the duration of regular drinking
  • The individual’s age, education level, gender, genetic profile, and family history of alcohol and drug use
  • If the person is at risk due to exposure to alcohol in utero
  • General health status and overall wellness

The following describes some common disorders associated with alcohol-related brain damage and the individuals at a heightened risk for impairment.

Blackouts and Memory Loss

How Does Alcohol Affect the Brain? | Recovery by the Sea

Alcohol use can lead to identifiable memory impairments after just a few drinks, and the extent of the impairment increases in correspondence with alcohol consumption. Large amounts of alcohol, particularly when drank rapidly and/or without food can result in a “blackout” – a period of time in which an intoxicated individual later cannot remember some of all events that transpired.

Blackouts are more common among social drinkers than once thought and can be a result of acute intoxication regardless of whether the consumer is dependent upon (or addicted to) alcohol.

In one study, nearly 800 college undergraduates were surveyed about their experiences with blackouts after a night of drinking. Of those who had ever drunk alcohol, more than half (51%) reported blacking out at some time in their lives, and 40% reported experiencing a blackout in the past year.

Among those who reported consuming alcohol in the two weeks before the survey, 9.4% stated they had a blackout during that time. The students said they learned later than they had engaged in potentially hazardous activities they could not remember including unprotected sex and drinking and driving.

Binge Drinking

Drinkers who experience blackouts generally consume too much alcohol too quickly, causing their blood alcohol concentration to increase rapidly. College students may be at an especially high risk for blackouts, considering a large number engage in binge drinking (defined as consuming four to five or more drinks in two hours for women and men, respectively.)

An equal number of women and men report experiencing blackouts, despite the fact that men tend to drink more often and more heavily. This fact implies that regardless of the amount consumed, women may be at a greater risk than men for experiencing blackouts.

A female’s propensity to black out more easily likely results from variations in how women and men metabolize alcohol. Women may also be more vulnerable than men to lesser forms of alcohol-related memory lapses or impairments, even when both sexes drink similar amounts of alcohol.

Are Women More Vulnerable?

How Does Alcohol Affect the Brain | Recovery by the Sea

Women are more susceptible to many of the physical and mental consequences of alcohol abuse. For example, women with alcoholism develop liver cirrhosis, alcohol-related heart disease, and nerve damage after fewer years of heavy alcohol consumption than do male drinkers. But what about brain damage?

In two studies, brain shrinkage (a common indicator of brain damage) was compared between alcoholic men and women and control subjects, and both revealed that drinkers had significantly greater shrinkage. Research has also shown that both women and men have comparable learning and memory impairments as a consequence of heavy alcohol consumption.

The main difference was that alcoholic females reported that they have been using alcohol excessively for only around half the time of the alcoholic males – suggesting that women’s brains, similar to other organs, may be more susceptible to alcohol-related damage than men’s.

Brain Damage via Other Causes

Individuals who have been consuming excessive amounts of alcohol for long intervals face the risk of developing severe and persistent brain changes – damage may be a consequence of alcohol’s direct effects or may result indirectly from poor health or liver disease.

Moreover, a deficiency in thiamine is a common result for individuals with alcoholism and results from poor nutrition. Thiamine (B1) is a key nutrient needed by all tissues, and the brain is no exception. Thiamine can be found in foods such as meat, whole grains, nuts, beans, and peas. In fact, many foods in the U.S. are often fortified with thiamine, such as bread and cereals. As a result, most people ingest a sufficient amount of thiamine.

Wernicke–Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS)

As many as 4 in 5 alcoholics, however, experience a thiamine deficiency, and some of these will eventually develop brain disorders such as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS.) WKS is a condition that includes two separate syndromes, a brief but severe disease known as Wernicke’s encephalopathy and a longstanding and debilitation conditions referred to as Korsakoff’s psychosis.

Wernicke’s encephalopathy symptoms include confusion, oculomotor disturbances (nerve paralysis of the eyes) and poor muscle coordination. For example, people with Wernicke’s may be too confused to navigate out of a room or may not even be able to walk.

A large percentage – around 80-90% – of alcoholics with Wernicke’s also develop Korsakoff’s psychosis, a long-term syndrome characterized by learning and memory impairments. People with Korsakoff’s are forgetful, easily frustrated, and have difficulty with coordination.

While these patients have trouble recalling old information, it is their difficulty in obtaining new information that is the most prominent. For example, these people may be able to discuss, in detail, an event earlier in their lives, but an hour later may not remember engaging in the conversation.

Liver Disease

How Does Alcohol Affect the Brain? | Recovery by the Sea

A relatively unknown consequence of liver dysfunction (e.g., cirrhosis) is damage to the brain. This damage can result in a severe and potentially fatal brain disorder referred to as hepatic encephalopathy, a condition that can cause altered sleep patterns, mood, and personality, in addition to anxiety and depression, shortened attention plan, and problems with coordination.

Researchers have studied the brain regions of patients with alcoholic liver disease and found that at least two toxic byproducts, manganese and ammonia, play a role in the development of hepatic encephalopathy. Liver cells damaged by alcohol use permit an excessive amount of these harmful substances to enter the brain and damage brain cells.

Treatment for Alcoholism

The best way to prevent alcohol-related brain damage, whether short- or long-term, is to stop drinking and participate in our evidence-based treatment program. Our center offers comprehensive, evidence-based therapies and counseling in both inpatient and outpatient formats.

Our professional staff specialize in addiction and can provide our patients with the tools they need to succeed at recovery and sustain long standing wellness and sobriety. Recovery from addiction is a lifelong process, but you don’t have to do it alone. With our help, you regain your sanity and enjoy the happy and fulfilling life you deserve.

Alcohol Dependence

Alcohol Dependence | Recovery by the Sea

Alcohol dependence, also referred to as alcoholism, is the most serious type of drinking problem. While there is no definitive number of drinks per day that is characteristic of alcohol dependence, health experts have designated a limit above which the risks of alcohol consumption increase markedly.

Alcoholism is relatively common, and in the U.S., it is estimated that about 1 in 16 develop a severe problem with drinking, and millions more engage in alcohol consumption that is considered “risky” by medical experts. A recent analysis showed that nearly one-third (30%) of U.S. residents reported experiencing an alcohol use disorder (AUD) at one point in their lives.

Key characteristics of alcohol dependence including the following:


Tolerance is a condition defined as the need to drink more alcohol than before to achieve the same effect, or the ability to drink more than others without getting as intoxicated. The development of tolerance often compels the drinker to consume increasing amounts and thus, significantly raises the risk of many alcohol-related problems, such as disease, injury, legal and financial issues, relationship conflicts, and overdose (alcohol poisoning.)

Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol Dependence | Recovery by the Sea

Someone with alcohol dependence, by definition, has come to rely on alcohol use psychologically, physically, and emotionally. Withdrawals occur when a regular alcohol user tries to cut back or quit drinking altogether. Over time, the brain becomes accustomed to alcohol’s presence, and when the drinker reduces or halts intake, the body’s adapted environment is altered dramatically, thus resulting in withdrawal symptoms.

Such symptoms include anxiety, depression, sweating, tremors and shakiness, insomnia, nausea and vomiting, and in serious cases, seizures, confusion, and hallucinations. Rarely, the effects of alcohol withdrawal syndrome can be lethal.

Other characteristics of alcohol dependence include:

  • The desire to stop drinking, but finding oneself unable to do so.
  • A loss of control over the amount of alcohol consumed.
  • A preoccupation with obtaining alcohol and drinking.
  • The neglect of other life activities, hobbies, and responsibilities.
  • Ignoring problems related to alcohol use, even those that are very obvious.

Alcohol Dependence: Adverse Effects in Every Aspect of Life

Alcoholism is associated with numerous psychological, interpersonal/social, economic, legal, and medical difficulties. Overuse increases the risk of depression and suicide and is related to violence such as homicide, assault, and domestic abuse. It also causes traffic accidents and personal injury (e.g., falls) and unsafe or criminal sexual behavior, resulting in pregnancy, STDs, or sexual assault.

Alcohol Dependence | Recovery by the Sea

Dependence on alcohol also increases the risk of liver disease, cirrhosis, heart disease, stroke, brain damage, pancreatitis, and several types of cancer.

Pregnant women who drink run of the risk of giving birth to a child with fetal alcohol syndrome, a long-lasting condition characterized by facial deformities and a host of physical, mental and emotional defects and impairments.

Contributing Factors

Problems related to alcohol use develop from a combination of biological and environmental influences.

Biology – People who drink and have a family history of using alcohol or drugs, such as opioids, are at a heightened risk for developing an addiction themselves. For example, a child who has a parent who is dependent on alcohol is has a four-times greater risk of developing their own dependency.

This is due in part to inherited genes that increase susceptibility, and frequently, alcohol is also used to self-medicate for underlying mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or childhood trauma.

Environment – The experience of watching parents engage in alcohol use and the corresponding negative effects that it produces mentally and emotionally may contribute to the desire to use alcohol abusively oneself. Alcohol may also be a large (and often destructive) part of a person’s peer group and a person may use alcohol themselves to fit in or attempt to cope and get relief from stress.


Alcohol dependence can result in any of the following behavioral symptoms:

  • Experiencing long periods of intoxication
  • Drinking by oneself
  • Experiencing work or financial problems related to drinking
  • Carelessness about personal appearance/hygiene
  • Experiencing blackouts/memory loss
  • Drunk driving
  • Hurting oneself or someone else during intoxication
  • Hiding alcohol containers to conceal evidence of drinking
  • Exhibiting mood and personality changes

Alcohol dependence can result in any of the following physical symptoms:

  • Nausea or shaking upon waking
  • Malnutrition due to a poor diet
  • Abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Flushed face and palms
  • Numbness, weakness or tingling in the extremities
  • Frequent accidental injuries – particularly falls

Alcohol Dependence: A Real Life Case Study

Alcohol Dependence | Recovery by the Sea

Melissa is a 45-year-old whose parents were both heavy alcohol users and she witnessed them drinking as she was growing up. At the age of 13, her mother allowed her to have two beers – she enjoyed the feeling and never forgot it.

As a young adult, she abused alcohol occasionally at parties, clubs, and bars. In her late 20’s, she became a heavy wine drinker and started having blackouts. Around 30, she was diagnosed with depression and was put on antidepressants, but continued drinking to excess.

At age 35, she was arrested for a DUI. She was put on probation but continued to drink whenever she could. For the next ten years, she remained a “high-functioning” alcoholic, held down a job, and got a graduate degree.

At age 45, her addiction progressed to the point in which she was no longer capable of functioning. She stopped working and started drinking non-stop for several weeks. Eventually, she was able to enter a rehab program where she got clean and began to maintain a sober lifestyle.


Although alcohol use disorder is quite common, only a small percentage of people identify the problem and seek help. For this reason, screening for alcoholism by health providers, friends, and family is to recognize and help those suffering.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) recommends that primary care providers ask a very simple, but specific questions, including the following:

How many times in the past year have you consumed:

Five or more drinks in a day? (Men)
Four or more drinks in a day? (Women)

The objective in asking this question is to get a sense of whether or not the patient is at risk for incurring alcohol-related conditions. The recommended limits for men and women differ due to discrepancies in how alcohol is absorbed and processed by the body. Therefore, the risk increases for men who consume more than four drinks per day (or more than 14 per week) and women who consume more than three drinks per day (or 7 drinks per week.)

Of note, people who consume more alcohol than they should often feel defensive about their drinking and do so in secret, or minimize the problem. There is also a societal stigma attached to alcoholism, so it is very common for alcoholism to go unaddressed.

The CAGE test (an acronym for CUT DOWN, ANNOYED, GUILTY, AND EYE OPENER) may also be helpful, and questions may be easier for concerned loved ones to ask, since alcohol dependents may be hesitant to truthfully answer questions about quantity.

These questions include the following:

  • Do you ever worry that you should CUT down on your drinking?
  • Do you ever feel ANNOYED because other people have criticized your drinking habits?
  • Do you ever feel GUILTY about drinking?
  • Do you need a morning EYE OPENER drink to calm your nerves or to fight off a hangover?

Treatment for Alcohol Dependence

Alcohol dependence is a devastating and potentially life-threating condition that adversely affects the life of the person suffering as well those close to him or her. Treatment requires a full detox in a medical setting followed long-term intensive therapy in either an inpatient or intensive outpatient treatment program.

Our center offers a comprehensive approach that includes behavioral therapy, individual and group therapy, family counseling, and complementary practices such as yoga, meditation, and art and music therapy. After discharge, former patients can take advantage of our aftercare planning services, which identify local resources such as therapists, counselors, and 12-step meetings for ongoing treatment and support.

Recovery from alcohol addiction is a lifelong process but you don’t have to do it alone. We can provide you with the tools you need to maintain long-lasting sobriety and regain the life, health, and wellness that you deserve.

12 Warning Signs of Alcoholism

Signs of Alcoholism | Recovery by the Sea

Signs of Alcoholism | Recovery by the Sea

Warning Signs of Alcoholism – According to a 2015 study published in JAMA Psychiatry, more than 32 million American adults have an alcohol use disorder – a number that reflects nearly 14% of the population. Worldwide, roughly one billion people consume alcohol problematically.

By some estimates, fewer than 1 in 10 people suffering from alcoholism ever seek treatment and an even smaller percentage receive it. Is it a lack of motivation? Perhaps, but there are also other circumstances at play.

Several factors prevent people from seeking and receiving help – for one, in many societies, there is a stigma associated with alcoholism. Still, in others, alcohol use is so ingrained in the culture that alcohol use is the norm, not the exception. Finally, in the U.S. and elsewhere, it is not uncommon to find gaps in mental health care and resources.

Social Warning Signs of Alcoholism

The social signs of excessive alcohol use are those that not only impact one’s interpersonal network but also adversely affect the lives of others who fall into his or her circle of close friends and loved ones. These signs also reflect society’s reaction to behaviors that result from intoxication, often resulting in legal troubles.

Legal Issues

Signs of Alcoholism | Recovery by the SeaOne tell-tale sign of alcoholism is the presence of legal issues that manifest from alcohol use. These include charges such as drinking and driving or operating machinery while impaired, domestic violence, or being arrested for public intoxication.

Legal problems often develop because alcohol abusers tend to be impulsive and frequently engage in risky behavior while under the influence.

Skewed Priorities

People who are addicted to drugs or alcohol tend to prioritize substance use over critical life responsibilities, such as work and family. The neglect of loved ones due to drinking, or spending money on alcohol that should be set aside for essential needs such as groceries or rent are both huge red flags that a severe alcohol problem has developed.

Skewed priorities don’t just include responsibilities – they include social activities. For example, a mother who has an alcohol use disorder may miss her son’s basketball game due to a bad hangover or severe intoxication.

Strained Relationships

Alcohol abuse can quickly start to damage and even sever relationships with family and friends. People who are intoxicated may become unreasonably argumentative, belligerent, or abusive. Even benevolent drinkers can engage in behavior that is off-putting or embarrassing to others, such as making inappropriate sexual advances or passing out in strange places in front of others.

Furthermore, other social repercussions, such as the neglect of family, legal issues, and deception over drinking habits (i.e., sneaking around to drink in secret) can also impact close relationships.

Deception, Manipulation, and Excuses

Alcoholics can be notoriously apt at deception. Like any addict, they deceive and try to manipulate others to feed their habit and remain unmolested by the concerns and interventions of others. They hide alcohol and drink on the sly, and create excuses for certain behaviors that are really just a cover for drinking.

Alcoholics are also full of excuses. If they get too drunk, they may try to justify it by saying “It’s Friday!” or “It’s my best friend’s wedding!” They may also play on someone else’s sympathy and fall back on past trauma or emotional/mood disorders as an excuse.

It’s important to discern the difference between an excuse and a reason, however. For someone with an untreated mental health condition, drinking as a means of self-medication may reflect a reason, but it is NOT an excuse. There is no excuse for engaging in self-destructive behaviors, especially those that can devastate others, as well.

Socializing With the Wrong Crowd

Signs of Alcoholism | Recovery by the SeaPeople addicted to drugs or alcohol often find themselves hanging out with others who have similarly flawed priorities, such as going to bars, parties, clubs, etc. instead of taking care of responsibilities. Think of the old saying “Birds of a feather, flock together.” Moreover, if you are hanging out with people who frequently abuse substances, the chances are good that their priorities and behaviors are nearly identical to your own.

Drinking Alone

Many alcoholics start out as primarily social drinkers, but at some point, end up drinking by them themselves whether or not it’s their preference. In other words, some may use alcohol to suppress feelings of loneliness, while others choose to isolate themselves when drinking so that no one is around to interrupt them or criticize their behavior.

Drinking alone as a stand-alone defense against a single adverse circumstance (a romantic breakup, for example) is not the same as doing so on a regular basis. Alcoholics can drink alone often and not think twice about it, but the average social drinker is not going to turn solo drinking into a chronic habit.

Sub-Par Performance

Heavy drinkers often exhibit a reduction in performance standards at work, school, sports, and hobbies. Failing grades in college or calling in sick to work are perfect examples. Also, frequent, excessive alcohol use causes brain damage, at least temporarily, and can severely impact memory, concentration, and the decision-making skills needed to excel in all areas of life.

Physical Warning Signs of Alcoholism

The physical signs of alcohol abuse include both short- and long-term health conditions that may be either temporary or permanent.


Tolerance, in a nutshell, is the end result of repeated exposure = diminished response. When a person’s brain becomes accustomed to alcohol’s continued presence, it responds by reducing the reaction. When this occurs, the person is forced to consume more alcohol in order to experience the desired level of intoxication.

The development of high tolerance is a sure sign of alcoholism because tolerance only manifests over time as a result of excessive, repeated alcohol exposure.

Drinking Daily and Dependence

Signs of Alcoholism | Recovery by the SeaDaily drinking, especially when continuous through the day, reveals a strong dependence on alcohol. Daily alcohol consumption often begins as a way to avoid hangovers and withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, depression, nausea and vomiting, shakiness and insomnia.

Dependence, like tolerance, also occurs over time as a result of repeated alcohol overuse. As alcohol’s presence becomes increasingly fixed, the brain becomes less able to function without it.

Thus, when the drinker tries to quit or drastically cut back, withdrawal symptoms emerge – effects that are highly unpleasant and can also lead to dangerous complications. For this reasons, alcohol withdrawal syndrome is often the primary catalyst for relapse.

Memory Loss

Most severe alcoholics regularly experience a loss of memory commonly referred to as a blackout. Because alcohol impairs memory, someone in a blackout can be walking around, engaging with others or even driving a vehicle more or less on autopilot. They might not remember events even right after they occur, and next day recollection may be next to impossible.

A blackout is a lot like experiencing a brief fugue state or missing time and is a surefire indicator of severe, potentially life-threatening alcohol intoxication.

Changes in Appearance

Hardcore alcohol abusers often exhibit changes in appearance. If you’ve ever seen a mugshot of someone severely intoxicated who was arrested for drinking and driving, you’ll know that this means. Bloodshot eyes, flushed skin, and unkempt hair and clothing are not uncommon to witness.

Furthermore, over time, general hygiene may suffer, leading to dental problems, weight loss, and other telling signs of a poor or failing health condition.


Because alcoholics experience a number of impairments, including a loss of visual acuity and motor coordination, they frequently suffer from injuries as a result of accidental falls or physical altercations. Someone who is extremely impaired, for example, might fall down the stairs and incur bruising, open wounds, fractures, or broken bones.

Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol addiction is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that is best approached comprehensively, using proven methods that help patients develop healthy coping skills and gain insight into the causes and effects of their addiction.

Our treatment programs include both inpatient (residential) and intensive outpatient formats. Each track employs behavioral therapies, counseling, and complementary approaches such as yoga and meditation that have been clinically shown to improve patient outcomes and assist in the maintenance of long-term sobriety.

Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol Use Disorder | Recovery by the Sea

Updated: 7-30-2019

Alcohol use disorder is a pattern of alcohol consumption that results in the inability to control drinking, the development of tolerance and dependence, and problems associated with use despite the recurrence of adverse consequences.

Sometimes referred to as alcoholism, alcohol abuse, or binge drinking, alcohol use disorder includes any alcohol consumption that put the safety of the drinker and others at risk or leads to other problems related to alcohol.

Moreover, if a person’s drinking habits have resulted in repeated problems in daily functioning, some level of alcohol use disorder is likely to be present.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol use disorder can be anywhere from mild to severe based on the number and seriousness of symptoms experienced.

Signs and symptoms may include but are not limited to the following:

  • The inability to limit the amount of alcohol consumed.
  • Recognizing the desire to cut back on drinking and making unsuccessful attempts to do so (relapse.)
  • Spending a significant amount of time drinking, being preoccupied with obtaining alcohol and drinking or recovering from alcohol use.
  • Feeling strong cravings or urges to drink alcohol.
  • Neglecting critical obligations such as school, work, or home life due to alcohol use.
  • Continuing to drink alcohol despite the mental, physical, social and interpersonal problems that result from its use.
  • Losing interest in hobbies and activities once considered enjoyable or important.
  • Consuming alcohol in hazardous situations such as drinking and driving.
  • Binge drinking – a pattern of alcohol use in which the drinker consumes 4-5 units (women and men, respectively) in a two-hour time frame.
  • Extended periods of intoxication.
  • Withdrawl symptoms upon cessation.

Critically, alcohol use disorder (AUD) leads to the development of tolerance, meaning the user has to consume more alcohol more frequently to achieve the desired effect (increased exposure = decreased response.) This increasing use in response to tolerance increases the risk of all alcohol-related problems in both the short- and long-term.

AUD is also often characterized by dependency. Dependency occurs when the brain gets accustomed to repeated alcohol exposure and cannot function normally without it. Also, withdrawal symptoms emerge when the user stops drinking or drastically cuts back.


Alcohol Use Disorder | Recovery by the SeaAlcohol intoxication is the result of blood alcohol concentration (BAC), or the amount of alcohol is in a user’s bloodstream. As the concentration level increases, so does the extent of impairedness.

The BAC legal limit in most states is .08%. A BAC of over .3% is life-threating for some people and a BAC over .4% can be lethal.

Intoxication results in adverse mental changes and physical actions, such as mood swings, inappropriate or aggressive/violent behavior, slurred speech, impaired judgment/decision-making, reduced attention, memory, and coordination. Memory loss can be partial or total (blackouts).

Intoxication in severe cases can result in alcohol poisoning, central nervous system depression, coma, long-term brain damage, and death.

Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome

A drinker who ceases consumption after an extended period of significant alcohol use can suffer from alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS), a condition characterized by unpleasant and occasionally life-threatening symptoms. AWS can onset after just hours of the last drink or may take several days to manifest.

Signs and symptoms of AWS include but are not limited to the following

  • Sweating and chills
  • Tachycardia (rapid heartbeat)
  • Tremors
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Agitation
  • Dehydration and weakness
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations

Major Health Conditions Associated With Alcohol Use Disorder

1.Liver Disease

Alcohol Use Disorder | Recovery by the Sea


Excessive alcohol use can result in fatty liver disease (increased fat in the liver) and inflammation (hepatitis.) Over time, damage may be irreversible and lead to scarring of liver tissue, or cirrhosis.

2.Digestion Issues

Excessive alcohol intake can result in gastritis (stomach inflammation) and ulcers. It can also block the absorption of B-vitamins and other nutrients and lead to pancreatic inflammation.

3.Heart Problems

Heavy drinking can result in hypertension (high blood pressure) and an increased risk of heart failure or stroke. Binge drinking can cause a dangerous heart arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat.)

4.Diabetic Complications

Alcohol also impedes the release of glucose from the liver and increases the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar.) This result can be extremely dangerous for people with diabetes.

5.Birth Defects

Using alcohol while pregnant increases the risk of miscarriage and fetal alcohol syndrome, a condition characterized by physical, mental, and emotional development problems that can last a lifetime.

6.Neurological Complications

Heavy alcohol use can impact the central nervous system, causing pain and numbness in hands and feat, disordered thinking, and dementia. Excessive drinking has also been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

7.Increased Cancer Risk

Long-term heavy alcohol consumption has been associated with a higher risk of several cancers, including those of the breast, colon, esophagus, liver, mouth, and throat.

8.Bone Damage

Alcohol use may also impede the development of new bone and lead to osteoporosis and an increased risk of fractures or break. It can also damage bone marrow and cause low blood platelet count that results in increased bruising and bleeding.

9.Interactions With Drugs and Medications

Mixing alcohol with other depressants such as opioids or benzodiazepines can result in unpredictable effects and can be far more dangerous to one’s health than drinking is on its own. Many victims of alcohol poisoning and overdoses were found to have multiple psychoactive substances in their systems.

Causes and Risk Factors

Certain biological, psychological, environmental and social factors have been associated with an increased risk of developing an alcohol use disorder, such as being exposed to alcohol at an early age.

Also, drinking excessively over a prolonged period or regular binge drinking can result in problems related to alcohol use or AUD.

Additionally, people who have a parent(s) who suffer from alcoholism or drug addiction are more likely to have an AUD themselves. This fact may be due to genetic factors, influenced by their childhood family environment, or both.

Social factors may also play a role. Researchers have found that people in communities and environments where alcohol use/abuse is accepted or glorified have a higher risk of developing an AUD.

Finally, people with mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder also commonly have problems with substance abuse. Having the experience of childhood trauma and/or mental and emotional problems may increase one’s risk of drug or alcohol use.

Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol Use Disorder | Recovery by the SeaBecause AWS is one of the few withdrawal syndromes that can result in death, persons seeking treatment should first undergo a clinical detox.

During this process, which may take several days, alcohol and other toxins are cleansed from the person’s body under the around-the-clock supervision of medical personnel.

After detox, persons with AUD should participate in an addiction treatment program at our center for a period of at least 30-60 days. Program formats include both inpatient and intensive outpatient therapy. Inpatients stay at our center 24-7 while outpatients participate in treatment several times per week.

Both residential patients and outpatients have access to psychotherapy, group therapy, family counseling, 12-step programs and holistic activities such as art and music therapy. Outpatients are free to live at a private residence or may take advantage of referral to one of our approved sober living homes.

After discharge, former patients can enjoy participating in alumni activities and make use of the services of our aftercare coordinator.

If you or your loved one is suffering from substance abuse, please seek help as soon as possible.

Is Alcoholism a Disease?

Is Alcoholism a Disease? | Recovery By The Sea

The disease theory of alcoholism contends that alcohol addiction is a disease of the brain that changes the way a person thinks, feels, and behaves. Thus, qualified healthcare providers should be able to diagnose and treat both the causes and effects of alcoholism, just like any other medical condition.

Alcoholism (a.k.a. alcohol addiction or alcohol use disorder) is a complex condition that is thought to be a product of many contributing factors, including genetic disposition, developmental issues, and environmental stress.

For decades, even centuries, many experts have argued that alcoholism is a choice – a moral dilemma, so to speak – and that alcoholics could be cured of their affliction if they were just willing to seek out spiritual guidance and really, really try.

But if we are to consider alcoholism an incurable disease and not merely a choice, are we not taking control out of the hands of the individual? And what if alcohol addiction is not a disease? Does that mean that sufferers should not have intense, evidence-based treatment available to them that approaches it as such?

One such condition is known as Wernicke’s encephalopathy (WE), which results from a thiamine deficiency caused by excessive alcohol consumption.

So how do we address the issue of “choice” and control? Well, think of alcoholism as being similar to Type II diabetes regarding how personal choices affect disease – both conditions can be managed through diet and lifestyle changes. The person experiencing these problems must make these choices, however, and stick to them.

Suffering from a chronic condition is not the same as making the conscious decision to suffer – but rather, the disease is ultimately going to be affected in many ways by the choices one makes, and whether they are healthy or destructive.

Moreover, this is how people with diseases of the brain and body are able to exert some control over their condition – through prevention, treatment, and symptom management. Using this approach, being an alcoholic is not a choice, per se – however, many of the choices one makes in light of this condition are ultimately going to affect the severity, duration, and outcome of the disease.

Finally, research has shown that people who are treated for alcohol addiction using a disease model exhibit better outcomes than those who are not. The takeaway is this – even if alcoholism is not a disease, it is most effectively treated when addressed as one. This approach should include treatment that involves intensive mental and physical healthcare, as well as long-term support and lifestyle changes.

What is Alcohol Dependence?

In  1956, the American Medical Association classified alcohol dependency as an illness, and in the early 1990s, it was also officially classified as both a medical and psychiatric condition.

Alcohol dependence is diagnosable based on the following four criteria:

  • The development of tolerance to alcohol that requires that the person drink more and more to experience the desired effects (intoxication)
  • Upon cessation of use, unpleasant mental, physical, and emotional withdrawal symptoms manifest
  • A lack of self-control and inability to limit alcohol consumption despite the intention
  • Adverse mental, physical, and social consequences that result from excessive alcohol use, such as mental illness, disease, and family conflict

Alcoholism Operating as a Disease

Is Alcoholism a Disease | Recovery by The Sea

When approached as an illness, alcohol dependence appears as a remission/relapse disease based in the brain’s neurological pathways. Alcohol rapidly spreads through the body and also wreaks damage on the heart, liver, and over time, on other internal organs. When left untreated, alcohol addiction usually continues to worsen due to increasing tolerance and the associated neurological effects.

And alcoholism, like any disease, powerfully impacts the person’s life as well as the lives of those surrounding him or her. Failure to receive treatment leads to ever-worsening conditions, impulsive, dangerous behavior, and ultimately, an increased risk of life-threatening illness or injury and death.

Alcoholism, not unlike diseases such as diabetes and cancer, is not curable, but it is treatable. Alcohol addiction treatment can be extremely effective when approached medically and comprehensively, such as through services offered by our addiction treatment center. These include inpatient and outpatient treatment formats, behavioral therapy, individual group therapy, counseling, and aftercare support. So Is Alcoholism a Disease? While some scientists seem convinced that alcoholism is properly defined as a disease, there are others that seem convinced otherwise.

We Are Addiction Specialists
Our staff includes addiction specialists and other healthcare providers trained to enact individualized programs that treat the symptoms of addiction and withdrawal.

If you or your loved one is suffering from substance abuse, please seek help as soon as possible.

Call us now to learn about our treatment options.

Polysubstance Abuse

Polysubstance Abuse | Recovery By The Sea

A person who engages in polysubstance abuse illicitly consumes multiple psychoactive substances but does not necessarily prefer one over another. People who are diagnosed with polysubstance abuse or dependence are actively abusing two or more substances, and typically one of these is alcohol.

Among drugs, cocaine and heroin are the most commonly misused in combination with multiple substances, but opioids, marijuana, amphetamines, benzodiazepines, and hallucinogens are also frequently abused, as well.

Why Do People Abuse More Than One Substance?

Research has shown that excessive use of one drug increases the likelihood that the person will excessively use another. Indeed, many people who abuse multiple substances are looking desperately for a “high” and aren’t concerned about how they achieve it.

It’s important to remember, however, all types of psychoactive substances work on the same regions of the brain (in many cases, the same neurotransmitters) and induce feelings of reward. Some people who are seeking instant “feel good” gratification will eventually devise multiple routes to those feelings, and henceforth, experiment with various substances.

In other words, psychoactive substances all have one thing in common – they serve as a reward to those who use them, at least initially. But often, regular substance abuse results in what is known as tolerance – a state best described as “repeated exposure = reduced response.”

When a user is no longer to obtain a high via a usual method, he or she may turn to other substance(s) to enhance or amplify the effects of the first. Or, they may use a substance(s) that cancel out certain side effects of the other, such as anti-anxiety medication to minimize the come down from a cocaine high.

Combined Drug Intoxication

Polysubstance Abuse | Recovery By The SeaOne of the leading causes of drug overdose in the United States is combined drug intoxication. This condition occurs when a person uses more than one substance (often three or more) in conjunction, a decision that ultimately puts a dangerous amount of stress on the central nervous system (CNS) and major organs.

Substances frequently used together include alcohol, benzodiazepine (benzos), opioids, hypnotics (sedatives), mood stabilizers, antipsychotics and muscle relaxers. Consuming any combination of these substances can be highly unpredictable and lead to serious complications including coma, cardiac arrest, respiratory arrest, and death.

It’s also fair to say, however, that some people who abuse multiple substances (case in point, Health Ledger, see below) are trying to over self-medicate for an underlying mental or physical health condition as opposed to only seeking a high.

The Case of Heath Ledger

On January 22, 2008, 28-year-old Australian actor and director Health Ledger was found unresponsive by his housekeeper in his New York apartment.

Probably most well-known for his roles as The Joker in The Dark Knight (2008) and Ennis in Brokeback Mountain (2005), Ledger was suffering from insomnia at the time of his death and was taking medication to help him sleep.

Later, an autopsy and toxicological examination revealed that “Mr. Heath Ledger died as the result of acute intoxication by the combined effects of…”

  • oxycodone (i.e. OxyContin, an opioid analgesic)
  • hydrocodone (ie. Norco or Vicodin, an opioid analgesic containing acetaminophen)
  • diazepam (i.e. Valium, an anti-anxiety medication, benzo)
  • temazepam (ie. Restoril, an anti-anxiety medication, benzo)
  • alprazolam (i.e. Xanax, an anti-anxiety medication, benzo)
  • doxylamine (an antihistamine)

What do we notice in these findings? Ledger consumed two different opioids and three different benzos at varying strengths. In his desperation for sleep, he used a toxic amount of painkillers and anti-anxiety medications -most of which that should have been unnecessary.

Who is at Risk for Polysubstance Abuse?

Like addiction, polysubstance abuse can happen to nearly anyone, and many of the risk factors for unilateral substance abuse are the same as those for polysubstance dependency.

There are additional determinants, however, that could increase the chances that a polysubstance use disorder will develop. These include:

  • Abusing or being dependent on alcohol
  • Holding a prescription for anxiety, depression, or pain medication
  • Being active in certain social environments, such as parties, raves, festivals, concerts, etc.
  • Having attention-hyperactive deficit disorder (ADHD) or a similar condition, exhibiting significant difficulty managing emotional regulation or impulsive control

Polysubstance Abuse Treatment

Due to the complicated nature of polysubstance abuse and potentially intense withdrawal symptoms, people seeking recovery may require a more extended stay in detox than others. Different substances manifest different withdrawal symptoms, and the most severe may need priority over others.

Treatment for polysubstance use disorder is not necessarily special when compared to those who suffer from a single dependency, but it is a bit more involved in that the patient is battling more problems and unique long-term effects.

Polysubstance abusers may also find it particularly challenging to remain sober due to having an “everything but the kitchen sink” mentality toward obtaining a high.

Treatment, however, should still involve a comprehensive program that includes inpatient or intensive outpatient therapy, behavioral therapies, counseling, group support, and holistic practices such as meditation if desired.

To learn more about treatment center, or to get answers to any questions that you may have about any aspect of treatment, please feel free to contact us at your convenience. We look forward to helping you make the most informed decision for yourself or for a loved one.

What Is Dry Drunk Syndrome?

Dry Drunk Syndrome | Recovery By The Sea

What Is Dry Drunk Syndrome? – Dry drunk syndrome describes a person in recovery from alcoholism who is still trapped in a life that is not as happy and fulfilling as it should be.

Essentially, the person has quit drinking but has not resolved past trauma, resentments, or progressed into mental and emotional stability.

The term “dry drunk” is thought to have originated from 12-step programs, and describes someone who despite their sober status, continues to behave as if she or he were still in the throes of addiction.

Who Becomes a Dry Drunk?

There are several reasons why someone in recovery would continue to suffer from many of the same effects they once did when actively using. Factors that contribute to dry drunk syndrome include, but are not limited to the following:

The person in recovery…

…has an underlying mental health condition such as generalized depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder that has not been effectively addressed or treated.

…assumed that the simple act of engaging in sobriety would be enough to solve most or all of their problems, and has not developed coping skills beyond their former, dysfunction solutions.

…failed to put forth enough effort into their mental and emotional welfare and has, therefore, become stuck in their way of life.

…failed to take advantage of therapy, counseling, and or external support such as family, friends, 12-step meetings, etc.

…is spiritually void. This lack of mindfulness and self-awareness has less to do with actual religion, but rather, reflects a belief that finding inner peace is not possible.

…are bitter about the fact that they cannot drink like others do, and think of sobriety as more or less a life sentence without a chance of parole.

Signs of Dry Drunk Syndrome Vs. Healthy Recovery

If you have ever wondered whether you or a loved one in recovery has characteristics of a dry drunk, there is a good chance that you (or they) do.

People in recovery still have ups and downs and need to struggle against obstacles, but the place and the attitude from which they derive their worldview and how they cope with events is what determines the difference between those enjoying a successful recovery and dry drunks.

For example, dry drunks…

…exhibit resentment and anger, and have a low tolerance for stress.

…exhibit few changes in their behavior or lifestyle other than drinking, and continue at times to isolate despite the presence of loneliness.

…are criticized by loved ones who perceive the person to be as unpleasant to be around as they were when actively drinking.

…appear to believe that their lives are not much better than before they quit drinking, and in fact, some things are perceived as worse.

…appear to hold onto the belief that their flawed coping skills somehow made life better.

…act as if they were forced into sobriety rather than going willingly and continue to “romance the drink.”

…outwardly continue to ignore life’s challenges in the same way they did when they were drinking.

…continue to exhibit self-pity.

Conversely, people who are enjoying a healthy recovery…

…exhibit resilience, forgiveness, and show respect for oneself and others.

…exhibit positive behavioral and lifestyle changes such as implementing healthy coping mechanisms and re-engaging in a positive and active social life.

…appear noticeably and positively different in their behavior and mood to others close to them.

…appear to find more enjoyment in life than when they were when actively drinking and accept that their former means of coping was unhealthy compared to their newfound skills and attitude.

…appear to acknowledge that in recovery, life should not go back to “before” but rather be based on a new paradigm of existence.

…may not have entered sobriety willingly, at some point, clearly embraced the new lifestyle and continue to do so.

…appear to face life’s challenges constructively, bounce back despite setbacks, and internalize the fact that life can be difficult with or without alcohol use.

…begin to exhibit and cultivate self-assurance.

Dry Drunk Prevention

Those in early recovery may be still at risk for falling into the above emotional and behavioral traps that are characteristic of dry drunk syndrome.

You can avoid these pitfalls by actively engaging in a mental and emotional self-recovery process and…

…review and be able to recognize the signs of dry drunk syndrome vs. a healthy recovery. willing to re-visit early recovery, find out where things went wrong, and seek/devise solutions for them.

…be fully committed to recovery and regularly monitor your progress on a long-term basis.

…acknowledge that recovery is a lifelong process that requires permanent changes and effort.

…never “romance the drink” or entertain the idea that your former dysfunctional coping mechanism can ever take the place of a healthy one.

…always seek a spiritual and meaningful connection with yourself and others.

…take it seriously if, over time, life is still unhappy and unsatisfying and immediately seek mental health care and emotional support from others.


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