Alcoholism: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Understanding alcoholism is crucial due to its pervasive presence in American society. The widespread prevalence of this condition underscores the urgent need to comprehend its impact. The consumption of alcohol can profoundly impact the health and overall well-being of individuals, highlighting the significance of raising awareness about its detrimental effects on those who partake.

Beyond its detrimental health effects, alcohol use can also disrupt social relationships, economic stability, and psychological equilibrium. This pervasive addiction transcends socioeconomic boundaries, exacting both personal and communal financial burdens. However, the ramifications of alcohol addiction extend far beyond mere monetary costs, permeating various facets of individual and collective well-being.

People suffering from alcoholism often try self-imposed sobriety, but they find that they are unable to deal with cravings alone. They may spend considerable amounts of time acquiring and recovering from alcohol. They may also be preoccupied with alcohol and give up essential responsibilities. If you or someone you know suffers from alcohol abuse, you should strongly consider seeking treatment for the disorder.

Treatment Services

Alcohol abuse can be a life-threatening problem. The medical perspective on alcoholism examines chemical, biological, and genetic factors. Experts agree that alcoholism is a disease that requires medical treatment to recover.

E.M. Jellinek, alcoholism researcher, posited that alcoholism is a complex syndrome that follows a progressive course of deterioration. Without treatment, the addiction will continue to worsen, leading to alcohol-related complications or death.

The Haven Detox provides alcohol addiction treatment in New Jersey through medically supervised detoxification and residential programs.


Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol addiction can be moderate or severe. Paying attention to the symptoms and recognizing them as warning signs that need treatment can help you or a loved one get treatment. Early intervention can save families, relationships, and lives.

A person does not need to show all these symptoms to require alcohol addiction treatment. One or two can indicate the presence of an alcohol use disorder.

Short-term indicators of alcoholism include:

  • Neglecting responsibilities.
  • Drinking to de-stress.
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Relationship problems
  • Legal problems
  • Reducing social life

Alcoholism is a progressive illness, beginning with mild and short-term symptoms and escalating to severe, chronic, and long-term symptoms.

Long-term effects of drinking alcohol include the following:

  • Persistent mood changes, including anxiety and irritability
  • Insomnia and other sleep problems
  • A weakened immune system
  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • Concentration problems
  • Memory loss
  • Loss of problem-solving skills

Alcoholism can be dangerous for your mind and body. Rather than facing the brutal consequences of continuing to drink, you can enroll in a treatment program.

When To Seek Treatment…

When you notice symptoms of alcohol abuse, seek professional help by speaking with your doctor or trusted provider like The Haven Detox. They will discuss your medical history, examine your condition, and consider your family’s history.

If necessary, your doctor may refer you to a medical detox or residential program. Before, after, or during treatment—your doctor may also prescribe medications to help you cut back on drinking and reduce withdrawal symptoms. Remember, early intervention saves lives. As soon as you believe you may have a drinking problem, contact your doctor.

If a Loved One Needs Help…

If you or a loved one is suffering from the effects of alcohol use, it’s time to get help. Many resources are available, including doctors, counselors, and alcohol rehab centers.

Talk to your loved one about their addiction. Open the discussion by explaining the consequences drinking has on you, the relationship, and their life. You can refuse to let your loved one drink in your house or refuse to bail them out of trouble. Make make sure you explain to your loved ones that you are not punishing them for their drinking. Instead, you are helping them get treatment for their illness. Ask for concrete commitments, and follow up to make sure your loved one has taken steps to recover.

Meet with a trusted provider to discuss the treatment options available to your loved one and the steps involved. They can help you figure out the treatment process, recovery, payment, and aftercare. They can help you understand all the steps your loved one must take to succeed in treatment.

Causes of Alcoholism

While there is no clear cause of alcoholism, genetics, environment, and psychological state can all increase your risk. Alcohol is a chemical that changes the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Chronic drinking can alter the balance of chemicals that control pleasure and euphoria. It also changes the way the brain processes rewards and behavior.

Heavy drinkers may experience a surge of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that controls the pleasure response. While they may enjoy the high they experience after heavy drinking, their bodies will adapt to the increased dopamine, causing them to drink more, becoming dependent on alcohol to function.


Research suggests there are several genetic causes of alcoholism. These genetic markers can be passed from parent to child, meaning if you had a parent who suffered from an addiction, you have a higher chance of developing an addiction yourself.

If your family has a history of alcohol abuse, you are more likely to be at risk of using alcohol to cope with stress, feel pleasure, and become dependent on it yourself. It’s important to take all factors into consideration when evaluating your condition.


Many other social factors influence the risk of alcoholism. Alcohol use has long been socially acceptable in the general adult population. However, alcoholism can develop more easily if drinking starts early in life.

Furthermore, the media glorifies alcohol abuse among people of all ages. Therefore, the social context in which alcohol use occurs increases exposure to alcohol, which may lead to addiction. Another environmental factor is growing up in a household with a parent addicted to alcohol. More than the genetic predisposition, having alcohol being modeled as a coping mechanism for stress can influence later alcohol use.

Psychological Factors

Psychological factors also play a role in the development of alcoholism. People who suffer from mental health disorders are more likely to abuse alcohol than those who do not.

For example, people with mental health problems like depression and social anxiety are at an increased risk for alcoholism. About 40 percent of those with bipolar disorder and 20 percent with depression abuse alcohol.

The use of alcohol can help a person forget the psychological pain they feel. But, other underlying psychological factors also have a direct effect on alcoholism. For instance, people who cannot confront or communicate their feelings may resort to alcohol as a coping method.

Addictive Potential

Studies have revealed that the addictive potential of alcohol is extremely high, and drinking too much of it can lead to other problems, such as mental health issues. In the US, 34 percent of men and 28 percent of women drank more than the recommended amount of alcohol. Nearly one in three adults reported heavy drinking. Alcohol abuse is a severe societal problem and a significant barrier to recovery.

The effects of alcohol use are often permanent. But, the negative consequences of alcohol misuse are less well-known. The results of alcoholism can be effectively treated and stopped with a doctor’s help through medical alcohol detox and residential treatment programs for alcohol.

Risk Factors

Many factors increase the risk of alcoholism. For example, people who drink at a young age are more likely to develop an alcohol use disorder. Mental health problems and a family history of alcohol abuse also increase the risk.

People who have suffered a traumatic event are also more likely to develop an alcohol use disorder. However, alcohol abuse does not affect everyone equally. Sometimes, a person may have a risk factor even if they do not show symptoms of the disorder.

Lack of Supervision

A person’s family culture affects the likelihood of developing alcoholism. People who were raised in families where heavy drinking was accepted were more likely to experience the harmful effects of alcoholism. Alcohol abuse can become socially acceptable and even desirable when it is encouraged.

If a young person isn’t observed and protected from alcohol abuse early on in a household environment as well, they could develop a tendency to cope with drinking. That’s when they may be more likely to need treatment for alcohol use disorder later in life.

Childhood Trauma

Childhood trauma can increase the risk of alcohol abuse as an adult. This type of trauma can particularly damage the brain and lead to alcohol use disorder. However, there are ways to mitigate the risk of alcohol use by ensuring the brain is developing properly.

This can be done by educating the child about the dangers of alcohol use. While it is essential to recognize these factors, they are not always easy to change. Understanding the risk factors for alcohol abuse is crucial for effective prevention and early intervention.

Peer Pressure

Peer pressure to drink alcohol is most often associated with adolescents and young adults, but studies find that peer pressure affects individuals throughout their lives well into adulthood. One can perceive peer pressure to drink alcohol as overt and aggressive or gentle and friendly.

Non-drinkers are more likely to experience overt forms of peer pressure, while heavy alcohol addicts may not drink alcohol by peer pressure. As a result of the apparent pressure to drink, some non-drinkers have developed strategies to cope with stress from drinkers.

Coping strategies for peer pressure worked for some non-drinkers or moderate drinkers. Still, for others, peer pressure leads to feelings of social isolation, caving in, and consuming alcohol against their will—even when it causes them great harm overall.

Effects of Alcoholism

The effects of alcohol on the brain are long-lasting and can damage your life. Alcohol or other substance abuse not only affects your health but also impedes your relationships and professional life. Knowing the effects of alcoholism on your life is essential to see the need to quit alcohol.

Effects on Relationships

If a person suffers from alcoholism, the consequences can be devastating to their relationships. The stress of covering up alcoholism and pretending that nothing is wrong can be excruciating.

This can have particularly adverse effects on children, who can be emotionally traumatized by the behavior. In addition to putting a strain on their relationships with family members and friends, alcoholism can also cause health problems, leading to their own forms of strain and stress on families, partners, and friends.

Effects of Alcoholism on Employment

Many professionals in the workplace have a duty to understand how alcoholism affects their ability to perform their jobs. If an employee struggles with alcohol abuse, seeking help may prevent termination or other consequences. If an employee has a co-worker with alcohol problems, they may be at risk for accidents and on-the-job injuries.

Whether the person suffering is an employee or self-employed, alcoholism can have long-term effects on the person’s employment and earnings. Early treatment is essential to a person’s recovery and livelihood.

Even in the early stages of alcoholism, many people are reluctant to seek treatment unless outside pressure is applied. This pressure can come from their employer, family members, clergy, or health care providers. Moreover, a person with alcohol use disorder may experience threats such as being fired from their job, divorced, or worse.

Effects of Alcoholism on Health and Safety

The effects of alcohol use on health and safety can cause accidents and injuries. People who drink too much can experience impaired judgment and make poor decisions. Alcohol can also affect internal organs and processes in the body.

Alcohol can destroy bone marrow, which produces blood cells. This damage can lead to increased bleeding and bruising. The consequences of alcohol abuse can be devastating. The effects of alcohol on health and safety go far beyond accidents. Alcohol abuse harms the body and can damage the brain, liver, and bones.

Regular consumption of alcohol can lead to dependence and a host of other health problems. Excessive drinking can damage organs and lead to addiction, depression, and even overdose. At The Haven Detox-New Jersey, we offer comprehensive alcohol addiction treatment to avoid and heal these consequences.