Am I Drinking Too Much? Signs of an Alcohol Problem

In most places around the world, alcohol is legal. It is a very common sight to see people engaging in alcohol use in many different settings. Due to its legal status and its common usage, many people believe that alcohol consumption cannot cause any real problems. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Many people that start drinking recreationally may find themselves drinking more regularly than other people. Other alcohol users may find that they are drinking so much that they feel nauseous and don’t remember anything from the night before. Both of these occurrences may actually highlight an underlying drinking problem.

You can use this article to help you understand more about alcohol consumption, as well as what constitutes alcohol abuse, and where to get help if you can’t stop drinking.

Alcohol Use

Alcohol Use

As mentioned, you can find alcohol on every continent in the world. It is something that has been a part of human life for a long time. The first evidence of alcohol dates back to around 7,000 BC, in China – over 9,000 years ago. It is perhaps understandable then, that alcohol is such a large part of today’s society.

It’s at the party you’re going to, it’s at the family gathering, it’s even present every time you go to do your weekly food shop. For some people, that is not something that would cause an issue, but for many people, its near-constant presence can be a problem.

Alcohol Use Disorder

An alcohol use disorder is a chronic disorder. The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) recognizes it to be such, meaning that it is widely accepted as a disorder in the medical world. The DSM-5 indicates that an individual may have an alcohol use disorder, ranging from mild to severe, if at least two or more defined symptoms are present. Some of these, but not all, include:

  • Having times when you ended up drinking more, or longer, than intended
  • Trying to cut down or stop drinking but couldn’t, on more than one occasion
  • Wanting a drink so badly that you couldn’t think of anything else
  • Continuing to drink even though it was causing trouble with your friends and family members
  • Giving up or cutting back on activities that were previously important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink
  • Finding that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had alcohol withdrawal symptoms, including trouble sleeping, shaking, restlessness, nausea, excessive sweating, increased heart rate, or a seizure
  • Continuing to drink even though it was making you feel depressed, anxious, or was adding to another health problem

The DSM-5 outlines more symptoms of an alcohol use disorder, however the symptoms outlined above should give you a good idea of what an alcohol use disorder may entail. If you are struggling with any of the above symptoms, or any symptoms outlined in the DSM-5, then you should speak to a medical professional about receiving a diagnosis.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) is the official governing body that reports on alcohol misuse and abuse. According to the NIAAA, in 2019, 14.1 million adults in the US struggled with Alcohol Use Disorder. At a rate of over 5% of the population, it is possible that you may have struggled with alcohol abuse in the past, or you may know someone that is struggling with alcohol abuse. It could, therefore, be helpful to understand what the disorder might look like from the outside.

Warning Signs of an Alcohol Problem

It may be hard to notice that a loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse as they may try to hide the fact that they are drinking regularly. Addiction, whether it is an alcohol addiction or any other form of substance abuse, has some common symptoms and signs that may indicate to you, that a person is struggling. Some of these warning signs of addiction include:

  • Secretive behavior or dishonesty
  • Withdrawing from social activities and responsibilities
  • Lack of concern over personal hygiene and physical appearance
  • Poorer work or school performance
  • Increased absenteeism
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities that were previously enjoyed
  • Increased temper, extreme mood swings, and tiredness

If you suspect that someone you know may be suffering from an addiction, it is important to approach a conversation with them in an empathetic manner. Addiction is sometimes seen as a character flaw, rather than what it truly is – a disease. Therefore, those suffering from an addiction may already feel a great sense of shame or guilt.

By being empathetic and understanding, you are more likely to be able to help them. While someone struggling with drug abuse may only be able to help themselves when they truly want help, it is encouraging for them to know that you are supporting them.

What Is Excessive Drinking?

What Is Excessive Drinking?

There are a few different types of excessive alcohol use. Professionals define some types of excessive drinking by how many drinks an individual consumes within a short period of time. They also define other types by longer periods of time spent drinking too much alcohol – usually over the period of a week. You can find descriptions of both below.

Binge Drinking

Many people, mainly young people, believe that drinking too much alcohol in one period of time does not signify a problem. However, excessive drinking in the space of a short amount of time brings with it many problems.

Binge drinking is when an individual engages in excessive alcohol consumption in a short period of time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognize this form of excessive drinking to be a serious but preventable health problem. They state that it is when an individual consumes five or more drinks on an occasion, for men, or four or more drinks on an occasion, for women.

As this form of excessive alcohol use is common, this is often where alcohol abuse begins. Some people that engage in binge drinking find that when their friends are able to stop, they are not. On top of that, by drinking too much alcohol in such a short period of time, you put yourself at risk of alcohol poisoning, which can be very dangerous.

Alcohol poisoning is when you have been drinking too much, and because of high blood alcohol levels and alcohol’s toxicity, your body begins to shut down. This requires immediate professional medical assistance and can result in serious health problems.

Other forms of excessive drinking don’t necessarily involve drinking excessively in a short period of time but take into account how much you have been drinking over a longer period of time.

Heavy Drinking

Heavy drinking is when an individual is drinking too much within the space of a week. Similarly to drinking too much in a short period of time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define heavy drinking slightly differently by gender.

The CDC states that for women, heavy drinking is when you consume eight or more drinks or more per week. For men, fifteen drinks or more is what the CDC considers to be excessive drinking.

If you notice that you are drinking too much according to these measurements, then it could be time to speak to medical professionals about your alcohol abuse. If you don’t address your drinking habits, then it could lead to some serious health consequences.

Short-Term Effects of Excessive Alcohol Use

Alcohol abuse can have a serious effect on not only your physical health but your mental health as well. If you are consuming too much alcohol over a short space of time drinking, then you could suffer the following effects:

  • Slurred speech
  • Impaired vision and mobility
  • Uncontrollable and unstable emotions
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Blacking out
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Alcohol-induced psychosis

This is likely to be followed by dehydration from alcohol intoxication the next day, which can be hard to manage. If you or someone you know is experiencing these effects, then it may be that they need to see a medical professional immediately. If they are not, then they could be at risk of serious health consequences.

If someone who has only recently started drinking is able to quit drinking quickly, then it is unlikely that they will experience any long-term effects of alcohol abuse. However, if someone has spent a long period of time drinking too much, then they might experience some long-term effects.

Long-Term Effects Excessive Alcohol Use

Those that drink alcohol regularly for a long period of time are likely to experience some consequences to their mental health and physical health. Some of these long-term effects may include:

  • Mental disorders, such as depression or anxiety
  • Chronic diseases, such as liver disease
  • Cancer
  • Immune system issues
  • High blood pressure
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when quitting alcohol use
  • Damage to nerves
  • Disordered thinking
  • Permanent brain damage

It could also be the case that, through your alcohol use disorder, you lose contact with family members and friends, or even lose your job. You should, therefore, look at how much you are drinking and if you find you are drinking too much, consider rethinking drinking.

There is, however, a recommended amount of alcohol for an individual to consume in the space of a week.

Moderate Drinking

Moderate Drinking

According to the CDC, adults of legal drinking age that choose to drink should drink in moderation. By limiting drinking habits to only two drinks or less in a day for men, or one standard drink in a day or less for women, you can reduce the risk of alcohol-related harm while still enjoying the odd drink. The alcohol content in one US standard drink is either one regular beer (12 ounces, 5% ABV), one regular glass of wine (5 ounces, 12% ABV), or the equivalent.

How to Stop Drinking

Scientists and psychologists are always coming up with new and effective ways of treating substance use disorders. They often combine mental health services with medication in order to treat the condition. From cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), there is always something that could suit your needs.

In terms of an alcohol use disorder, doctors will often use medication in order to make sure that you don’t experience any problematic withdrawal symptoms while coming off of the substance. This is because suddenly stopping drinking when you have an alcohol dependence can be life-threatening. It is not recommended to attempt to quit alcohol at home without the help of a medical professional.

Treatment facilities can offer treatment on an inpatient basis, meaning that you have a residential stay while battling your addiction, or an outpatient basis, meaning that you are free to carry on with your normal and professional life while addressing your disorder.

Where Can I Get Addiction Treatment?

Where Can I Get Addiction Treatment?

If you worry that you consume alcohol on a regular basis and are unable to stop, then don’t fear. Proper treatment is only a phone call away.

Here at the NP Addiction Clinic, we can provide addiction treatment that will help you on your road to recovery. By treating addiction through connection as opposed to punishment, you can gently ease into recovery away from the distractions and behaviors that might be reinforcing the cycle of your addiction.

Under the care of our expert and compassionate staff, you will receive the best treatment available, catered to your individual needs. Our team is available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to ensure that you are able to find recovery during your stay with us.

Contact us here, or give us a call on (772) 281-5242 and start your journey to wellness today.

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Samantha Kelly​

Director of National Business Development & Admissions Coordinator

I am a dedicated and passionate professional with extensive experience in business development Admissions and marketing. I have an incredible passion for showing others that there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel if someone truly wants it.
Being in recovery myself I understand the struggles of addiction and alcoholism. I Started this Career path in 2009. With multiple years of experience, I bring a multi-faceted approach and am always seeking new ways to make a difference in the lives of those I work with.

Kim L. Buckner

Facilitator

As a Substance Abuse Motivational Speaker, Pastor, Peer Advocate, and Facilitator. Kim helps clients avoid relapse by understanding their triggers. Those people, places and things that can cause craving, as well as internal triggers like feelings, thoughts, or emotions. Kim also clients with identifying and building healthy relationships now that they’re clean and sober.

Kim’s background includes extensive experience as a motivational speaker and work in faith-based organizations helping youth and adults alike. He says he is motivated by giving back to the community, understanding, and not judging who she comes into contact with. Kim’s favorite quote is by Dr. Raymond Johnson: “The respect given to others rebounds to the giver to deny the scared in the Other is to deny it in oneself.”

Caty Burns

Clinician

Caty graduated from Indiana University Bloomington in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minors in Counseling and History. Throughout her undergrad, she worked at the local CASA program, supporting volunteers advocating for children who had experienced abuse and neglect. Caty worked for seven years at a community mental health center (CMHC), partnering with children, adults, and families.

During those seven years, she taught life and coping skills as well as behavior management, provided case management and peer recovery services, and facilitated treatment teams that included the client, family, providers, and community members. I have also worked at an IOP providing group therapy services. She is currently working towards my Master of Social Work.

In her free time, Caty enjoys reading, especially historical fiction, spending time outdoors and having movie nights with her family. Disney World is her happy place, and she dreams of living among the elephants.

Madison Knowles

Mental Health Therapist

My name is Madison Knowles, I am a Mental health therapist at NPAC. I am a single-mother of two and I have a daughter who is globally delayed and has been diagnosed with autism. I have been in this industry since I was 16 years old, as I was fascinated with human behavior. I obtained my masters in applied behavioral analysis and started off working with people with disabilities. I then found my love for counseling when I worked with juveniles who had mental health and substance use issues. I then decided to go back for my mental health therapy license after that and working in a forensic treatment center. I went on to obtain my therapy credentials and since 2017, I have also been working on my PhD in forensic psychology in which I am currently working on my dissertation. I am inspired by change and how resilient people can be. My favorite inspirational quote is “Some will, Some won’t, So what, NEXT!!!” This quote has inspired me to try, try, and try again no matter how hard life gets, someone will give you a chance eventually. As a therapist at NPAC, I have been given the opportunity to work with diverse populations such as in substance use and mental health and I am known for my work with people on the schizophrenic spectrum as well as with other clients with other severe conditions including personality disorders.

Megan Carmona, LMHC

Lead Therapist

Our Lead Therapist, Megan, is a bilingual Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in working with adults who struggle with addiction, anxiety, depression, and trauma. As Lead Therapist, she provides individual, family, and group therapy sessions to our clients.  Megan says “I am very passionate about therapy, especially about supporting my clients in exploring their strengths and identity. My goal is to provide individuals with the tools that can help them achieve independence in coping with their challenges and facilitating personal development.” In her free time, Megan enjoys watching docu-series and playing video games with her family. Her dream is to own acres of land so she can care for vulnerable animals, especially old dogs, cats, and horses. 

Kristen Bensley

Primary Clinician

As Primary Clinician, Kristen works with all aspects of our clinical team, from case management to primary therapy.  She has broad experience working in the mental health field. Prior to joining our team at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic, Kristen was part of the team awarded the Evernorth Behavioral Health Center of Excellence Designation by Cigna. She says her motivation is to help people rediscover who they are and become excited about the future and all the possibilities life offers. Kristen’s favorite quote is: “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

Ronn Daigle, MSW

Therapist, Utilization Review Clinician

Ronn Daigle services as a Therapist and Utilization Review Clinician at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has been working in the field of substance use disorder treatment since 2011, with experience in all facility-based levels of care. Ronn earned, both an Associate of Arts in Psychology (2013) and Bachelor of Science in Human Services, with an Addiction Studies Concentration (2015) from Indian River State College. 

Ronn additionally earned a Master of Social Work degree in 2021 and is a current Registered Clinical Social Work Intern working toward licensure (LCSW). He describes himself as detail oriented, and solution focused.

Ronn says: “There is nothing more fulfilling than working with someone who doesn’t believe in himself or herself, and being there in the moment with them when the belief begins. We work with individuals who come to us at a point and time in their respective lives where they do not believe that change for others is possible; let alone for themselves…throughout the process they eventually come to a point where they realize that change is not only possible, but achievable.”

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI

Assistant Clinical Director

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI is the Assistant Clinical Director at Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic who specializes in the treatment of LGBTQ, addiction, as well as mental health disorders ranging from depression and anxiety, to Bipolar Disorder, trauma, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, and eating disorders. Erika utilizes a number of modalities including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Mindfulness amongst others. Erika has been in practice for close to a decade and has earned her license in Mental Health Counseling, as well as being a Master’s Certified Addiction Professional. Erika has worked with many individuals including couples counseling and family therapy, and is fluent in Spanish.
 
Throughout my years of practice, one of the things I enjoy helping people find is inner peace. Whether you are in the deepest parts of depression, overrun by your anxiety, controlled by your addiction, or there are certain issues in your life that are negatively impacting your ability to function, and have a happy, healthy life, maybe now is the time to talk about it. I am a big believer in empowerment, working hard in therapy, and utilizing different techniques to help you regain that inner peace that may have been lost along the way. I want to work with you as a team because with two people, absolutely everything is possible. I want to be there as a therapist, to help build you up, support you, but also help you be honest with yourself and accountable. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, my biggest goal for you is going to be simple….for you to no longer need my services. Why? Because if you no longer need my services, it means that you have regained your peace, you have regained your strength, you have regained your confidence. It means that you now have the tools to address any issues that try to derail you, and best of all, you will have the insight to overcome and thrive. So let’s begin this journey together, and get you to the place you want to be, emotionally, mentally, psychologically, and in your sobriety.

Aurelio Ayuso, MSW, LCSW, CAP, ICADC

Clinical Director

Aurelio has worked with those that suffer from the disease of addiction in adults and juveniles alike for over 10 years, beginning in the United States Navy where he proudly served for 20 years, working with those that were succumbed by addiction due to trauma and continuing his passion for helping those in need locally in Central Florida.

He specializes in both Addictions and Trauma, he has worked first as a therapist then as the clinical supervisor to both the Juvenile and Adult Drug Court programs in Brevard County. Aurelio has been instrumental in developing substance abuse treatment programs directly tailored to help those that also suffer from complex trauma due to their addiction. He has been recognized by several organizations for his forward thinking and ability to tailor treatment to individuals in the most restrictive environments.

Mr. Ayuso received his Graduate Degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker as well as Certified Addictions Professional in the State of Florida, and Internationally Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor. Aurelio specializes in the treatment of Addiction, Trauma, and Abandonment using strength based strategies deeply rooted in Solution Focused, and Mindfulness Therapies. At the Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic he passionately develops holistic curriculums that foster the belief that through addressing the mind, body, and spirit together, the Disease of Addiction can be addressed successfully.

Robert Lehmann, MHSA

Chief Operating Officer

Bob Lehmann is the Chief Operating Officer at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has a Master’s Degree in Human Services Administration with a concentration in Mental Health Administration and over twenty-five years of experience as a senior executive at addiction and mental health treatment facilities.

One of the reasons for his commitment to excellence in addiction treatment was his experience related to family members who suffered from the disease of addiction. Bob has been actively involved in community organizations throughout his career. Recently he was one of the founders of the Florida Addiction Treatment Coalition (FATC) and is its present Vice President. FATC was designed to bring together treatment executives in Florida to advocate on behalf of treatment facilities and the clients they serve adhering to a foundation of integrity and service excellence.

Jose R. Toledo, M.D.

Medical Director

A well-rounded and accomplished individual, Jose R. Toledo, M.D., is the Medical Director of Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a neurologist with 25 years of experience and has been in private practice since 1991 on the Treasure Coast of Florida. He completed his neurology training at the State University of New York and his Fellowship training at the University of Pittsburgh in Epilepsy and Clinical Neurophysiology.

He also completed 24 months of acute inpatient psychiatry at the Western Missouri Mental Health Center, University of Missouri in Kansas City. In 2008, Dr. Toledo participated in and was certified in the continuing medical education activity entitled “Buprenorphine and Office-Based Treatment of Opioid Dependence” from The Medical University of South Carolina during which began his quest to found and head Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a brain specialist with particular competence in addiction medicine and out-patient detoxification treatment and integrates the fields seamlessly. He is certified to prescribe Buprenorphine (Suboxone). He incorporates his background in neurology into the addiction field. Dr. Toledo is member/fellow of The American Medical Association, The Florida Medical Association and The American Society of Addiction Medicine