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Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol misuse and alcohol addiction can have a range of health consequences. If you’re struggling and not sure where to turn, you should know that treatment is available and can help you stop misusing alcohol and start the journey to recovery.

Alcohol addiction is a medical condition that involves compulsive drinking despite the negative consequences it has on a person’s life.1 Medical professionals diagnose alcohol addiction as an alcohol use disorder, or AUD.1

AUD can have varying degrees of severity, ranging from mild to severe. The severity depends on the level of a person’s alcohol misuse and how many diagnostic criteria they meet as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the tool professionals use to assess whether a person has an AUD.1

What Causes Alcohol Addiction?

There are many potential causes of alcohol addiction. Addiction is influenced by a variety of risk factors, which can increase the chances of developing an alcohol use disorder (AUD).Some of these factors include:

  • Biological factors, such as genetics, which account for around 60% of a person’s risk of developing an addiction or having a parent who engages in unhealthy drinking patterns.1
  • Environmental factors, such as exposure to alcohol at an early age, easy access to alcohol, or community poverty.1, 4
  • A history of trauma or having a mental health condition, such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).1

Alcohol Withdrawal

People who chronically misuse alcohol can develop alcohol dependence, which is a physiological adaptation that can occur due to the ongoing presence of alcohol.9 When a person who is dependent on alcohol stops drinking, they can suffer from alcohol withdrawal.9 Dependence is not the same as addiction, but it is often a feature of alcohol use disorder (AUD).1, 9

Alcohol withdrawal can be very uncomfortable and potentially dangerous, but medical detox is available to help people undergo withdrawal as comfortably and safely as possible while they return to a medically stable state.10 It can also address potential complications.10 Detox may involve different interventions, such as FDA-approved medications for safe withdrawal management, medical monitoring, and professional support to help people through this challenging phase of treatment.1, 10

How Do I Get Help for Alcohol Addiction?

If you or a loved one are concerned about alcohol addiction problems, you should know that treatment can help. Treatment may include:

  • Detox. This is often the first step in the recovery process to help you undergo withdrawal from alcohol with medical supervision and support.10
  • Inpatient rehab. You’ll live onsite at a rehab for the duration of treatment and can focus on recovery without distractions from the outside world.11
  • Outpatient treatment. You can continue to live at home or in a sober living facility but attend treatment on a regular schedule during the day.11
  • Aftercare. This involves various elements of continuing care that help support a person’s recovery after they’ve completed a more formal rehab program; it can include different components, such as individual counseling, support groups, or regular check-ins with a treatment provider.11

Finding Alcohol Addiction Treatment

If you’re interested in finding alcohol treatment near you, you could start by consulting your doctor to discuss your situation, receive a diagnosis, and ask about treatment centers. You can also use our directories tool to search for a facility near you or out of state or learn more about using insurance coverage for rehab.

When you’re ready to start the process, American Addiction Centers can help when you call . Our knowledgeable admissions navigators are available 24/7 and can hear your story, answer questions about treatment, and help verify your insurance. All calls are confidential and free, and there is no obligation to enter treatment.

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