Alcohol can mean different things depending on who’s using it and what they are using it for. No matter the occasion (or lack of one), the substance is widely available, and its use is welcomed in many circles. There are just a few reasons why it may be difficult to realize when social drinking has turned into problematic drinking that then turns into alcohol addiction.
South Florida is where the party is all hours of the day, and the region is pretty well known for that. Many bars and restaurants serve alcohol during midday lunches and happy hours, and into the late-night hours. This partly explains why developing a dependence on alcohol gets past many people, including those who drink.
While it might not seem like it at first, drinking heavily and/or frequently can take its toll on some who do it. Over time, a population of people who abuse alcohol will develop alcohol use disorder, or AUD, a condition that affects about 16 million Americans, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
AUD is also known as alcoholism. It is a diagnosable condition that appears in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, (DSM–5), which says AUD is a medical condition characterized by an established, repeated pattern of problematic drinking of alcohol that causes distress or injury within one year. Some may think a person strung out on alcohol or drugs is the only situation where substance use disorders are out of control. But in the case of AUD, the condition can be mild, moderate, or severe.
Alcohol Use In Florida
South Florida is a big place filled with many places to drink or buy alcohol. However, alcohol use is present throughout the state and across the United States. Underage drinking remains an ever-present issue, and law enforcement authorities continue to arrest motorists who are suspected of driving under the influence. It is highly likely some drinkers will abuse alcohol by itself, but others may opt to include alcohol in deadly combinations of prescription and street drugs.
A 2019 Florida Medical Examiners Commission report found that alcohol was the most detected substance in deaths involving drug use in 2018. Report data shows that the frequency in occurrence was 18.5 percent, higher than any other substance listed in the analysis. Polysubstance abuse is common among people who use. The practice involves mixing two or more drugs at the same time to either boost or decrease the effects of the drugs involved.
Not all cases in which drug and alcohol mixtures happen on purpose. Some users combine the two drugs by accident. For example, people who mix Adderall with alcohol put themselves in grave danger. Adderall, a stimulant drug, speeds up the system, while alcohol depresses the system. Some may think each drug cancels out the other, but that’s not true.
According to Healthline, taking these two substances together causes them to compete. As a result, the person may not know that Adderall can mask the symptoms of drunkenness. This, of course, means the possibility of losing track of alcohol intake is real and could get into dangerous territory.
Drinking more than one should can lead to alcohol poisoning. Some drug combinations have also been known to adversely affect the cardiovascular system.
Drinking Too Much Is Highly Dangerous
Some AUDs begin with binge drinking, which occurs when drinkers take in too much alcohol in a short time. Binge drinking, which can happen when a person is alone or with others, happens more than one may realize. More than 26 percent of U.S. adults reported they had engaged in binge drinking in the past month during that year, during a 2018 national survey.
Throwing back more than a few regularly constitutes excessive drinking, and this is a hazardous habit, as it opens everyone up to unfavorable outcomes, including people who aren’t drinking.
About 88,000 people in the United States die in motor accidents linked to excessive alcohol use, according to the NIAAA, and alcohol has been identified as the third leading preventable cause of death.
Road accidents involving alcohol have ended lives and ruined others. Excessive drinking can create more problems, such as:
- Alcohol poisoning
- Alcohol-related diseases (such as cancer)
- Sexually transmitted diseases, sexually transmitted infections
- Physical violence, including between intimate partners
- Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in pregnant women who drink
Quick Treatment Facts
The inability to control one’s drinking is a sure sign that addiction is underway. Treating the complex disease of alcohol addiction as soon as it is recognized can help a person get it under control and work toward getting sober.
Longtime drinkers are usually not able to kick an established alcohol habit alone. However, they can find medical help and guidance at an accredited facility that specializes in treating alcohol abuse.
Quality alcohol rehab programs in South Florida have helped people with AUD understand why they drink and how they can stop. They learn to avoid deadly relapses and how to get on track and stay there.
Much of your rehab experience will depend on where you are and how advanced your alcohol addiction is. You may be advised to start with medical detox before moving on to a level of care that fits your situation.