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Mental Health Matters

Alcoholism Warning Signs and Treatment

Alcoholic beverages are an integral part of our social environment around the world. According to a survey conducted in 2014 by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 52.7% of those surveyed said they were current drinkers or an estimated 139.7 million people. Of those drinkers, 60.9 million users were binge drinkers and 16.3 million were heavy alcohol drinkers.

More than one-half of American adults have a close family member who abuses alcohol. While many are able to quit on their own, most individuals who suffer from alcoholism benefit from the assistance and support of a friend, family member, or licensed mental health professional, such as a Marriage and Family Therapist. Research shows that social support and lessening shame can make a significant impact on recovery.

Warning signs of alcohol abuse include the following:

  • Drinking when you’re angry or sad
  • Tardiness at work or school due to drinking
  • Worry among family members about your drinking habits
  • Drinking after promising yourself you would quit
  • Forgetting what you did while drinking
  • Headaches while drinking or hangovers afterwards
  • Alcohol cravings
  • Loss of control
  • Inability to limit quantity of drinks
  • Physical dependence on alcohol, as exhibited by withdrawal symptoms

If someone you know is suffering from alcoholism, the following steps can help lead to recovery:

  • Admitting an alcohol problem: Admitting alcohol abuse is the first step to obtaining treatment.
  • Engaging the support of a family member or friend to assist you as you change your behavior and/or abstain from drinking: Studies show that individuals who have the support of a friend or family member are more likely to recover successfully than those who try to quit on their own.
  • Joining a local support group to track your recovery: You can find listings for support groups in a telephone book and more information on the Internet. Your doctor or local hospital also can refer you to such a group.
  • Seeking the help of a licensed professional: Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) are trained to assess, diagnose and treat individuals who suffer from alcohol abuse. Insurance plans in California often cover these services.


Alcoholics Anonymous

SMART Recovery

Moderation Management

Rational Recovery

National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence

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