Alcoholism is a serious problem that poses threats to Floridians’ mental and physical health. It’s important to get the facts about excessive drinking to identify a possible substance abuse issue and seek treatment before serious ramifications can take place.

Alcoholism in the Sunshine State

Types of problem drinking.

The term “binge drinking” is used to describe a drinking pattern that raises blood alcohol concentration levels to at least 0.08 percent. For men, binge drinking typically involves drinking at least five drinks in two hours. For women, it involves drinking at least four drinks in two hours. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 24.6 percent of U.S. adults reported binge drinking in the last 30 days.

Heavy drinking is similar to binge drinking. It involves having five or more drinks in one setting at least once within the last 30 days.

Both binge drinking and heavy drinking have been shown to be most prevalent in major cities in Florida and along the coast, asserts County Health Rankings.

Signs and symptoms of alcohol dependency

To be diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder, an individual must meet at least two of the following criteria:

  • Drinking more or for a longer period of time than planned
  • Attempted to stop drinking, but being unable to
  • Spending excessive time drinking
  • Experiencing cravings or urges to drink
  • Drinking interferes with work, school, or familial responsibilities
  • Drinking even though it caused problems with friends or family members
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Continuing to drink regardless of knowing it’s harmful
  • Having to drink more to achieve the same effect
  • Suffering withdrawal symptoms when not drinking
  • Ceasing in once-pleasurable activities to drink

Treatment of alcoholism

Treatment for alcoholism starts with detox, a withdrawal period that often occurs under medical supervision. For the safety and comfort of the patient, the process is often conducted in a medical detox facility.

Alcoholism treatment includes:

  • Medication treatment of withdrawal symptoms and urge to drink
  • Psychotherapy to understand how drinking contributes to physical and mental health problems
  • Counseling with a social worker, counselor, psychiatrist or psychiatrist

Treatment usually starts with inpatient treatment and continues with outpatient therapy to maintain sobriety.

With Florida leading the nation in alcoholism rates, 19.5 percent of adults in Lee, Charlotte and Collier counties in Florida have drinking problems – the highest rates of problem drinking in the state. If you or someone you love might be counted in that statistic, seek help for alcohol abuse immediately.