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Description of Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a chronic, sometimes fatal disease. Alcoholism by nature is when a drinking problem turns into long term alcohol abuse.

Alcohol abuse increases to uncontrolled drinking and preoccupation with alcohol.

Alcohol Addiction or alcoholism is the inability to control one's drinking. Developing alcoholism effects, the physical and emotional wellbeing of a person. Dependence on alcohol creates health complications such as liver disease.

Alcohol Abuse vs Alcoholism

Problem drinking occurs when someone consumes too much alcohol at one time, has trouble not drinking, or engages in excessive alcohol use and is not able to stop.

Alcoholism refers to a condition in which a person has a strong urge or physical need to drink alcohol, even though it has a negative consequence on their life.

Levels of Alcohol Consumption

Government and academic research institutions conduct studies to determine what levels of consuming alcohol will determine alcohol related problems or an alcohol addiction.

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  1. Drinking in Moderation – limiting alcohol consumption to two drinks or less daily for men and one drink or less daily for women
  2. Binge Drinking – The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking as a “pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 percent – or 0.08 grams of alcohol per deciliter – or higher”. This type of drinking equates to consuming five or more drinks (male), or four or more drinks (female), within a two-hour time frame. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which conducts the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), differs in definition with five or more drinks for men or four or more drinks for women at the same time or within a couple of hours of each other. This pattern occurs at least 1 day in the past month.
  3. Heavy Alcohol Use – The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines heavy drinking for men when four or more drinks are consumed in one day or fourteen or more drinks per week. The difference for women is three or more drinks consumed in one day or more than seven drinks per week. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines heavy alcohol use as binge drinking on 5 or more days in the past month.
  4. Patterns of Drinking Associated with Alcohol Use Disorder – Binge drinking and too much alcohol hence heavy drinking will increase the risk of alcohol use disorder.
Alcohol Addiction | Turning Point of Tampa

Alcohol Use Disorders

Substantial amounts of alcohol consumption and binge drinking can lead to alcohol dependence. The diagnosis in treating alcoholism is “alcohol use disorder”.

To treat alcoholism requires professional medical care. A hospital or treatment facility is always suggested with increased risk factors, family history, and heavy drinking that when stopping will cause alcohol withdrawal.

What is Alcohol Use Disorder?

An alcohol use disorder is a chronic disease that affects individuals who are suffering from the fallout of alcoholism. When you become preoccupied with alcohol and cannot stop on your own if you can see the havoc that drinking is creating – you can begin to look at your alcohol consumption and seek alcohol treatment.

Alcohol is socially acceptable and legal to drink and will not affect all people the same. Alcohol affects the nervous system. Even family members will experience alcohol related physical and emotional consequences different from one another.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 3.3 million global deaths each year are a result of harmful alcohol use. For many, consuming alcohol is perfectly fine, and does not cause any health problems, but for others it can result in a substance use disorder coupled with alcoholism.

A sign that drinking habits are becoming a problem is when alcohol dependence develops. Alcohol dependence is when a person becomes dependent upon alcohol intake to feel “normal” or needs alcohol to function.

Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder

Over time, heavy drinking and alcohol use can result in negative health effects that last forever. Someone who is struggling with an alcohol use disorder can suffer from many health problems including liver disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, or digest behaviors.

In pregnant women who drink alcohol, there is an increased risk for fetal alcohol syndrome after the baby is born.

Excessive drinking can affect your nervous system, causing numbness and pain in your hands and feet, disordered thinking, dementia, and short-term memory loss. Along with long-term health effects, there can also be social problems, including unemployment, job-related problems, or family problems.

The most common symptoms of alcoholism include:

Symptoms of Alcohol Use | Turning Point of Tampa
  • Not capable of limiting the amount of alcohol you drink

  • Wanting to cut down on how much you drink or making unsuccessful attempts to do so

  • Feeling a strong craving or urge to drink alcohol or engage in unhealthy alcohol consumption

  • Drinking too much alcohol at one time or developing a tolerance so you need more alcohol to feel its effect or regardless of how much you drink you have a reduced effect from the same amount

  • Experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms when you quit drinking— such as shaking, sweating or nausea

When Does Drinking Alcohol Become a Problem?

Alcohol becomes a problem when excessive drinking occurs and when someone is having consistent problems in their daily life because of their alcoholism.

Including alcohol in social, religious, and family gatherings is not a problem. Drinking does not always lead to alcohol abuse and alcoholism, but there are times when drinking too much alcohol results in alcohol related problems.

Knowing the signs and risk factors of alcohol abuse and alcoholism are important in getting help when needed. Finding the right alcohol treatment program is key once you or your family start to notice negative situations from an alcohol dependence.

If you start to need more alcohol to achieve the same results than how much you previously drank, you are at an increased risk for developing alcohol abuse and alcoholism.

Alcohol problems can be treated with much success. Professional medical care at a treatment facility is an option utilized when alcohol abuse and alcoholism require detoxification and then a continuum of care ranging from residential treatment to intensive outpatient. Support groups such as alcoholics anonymous meetings can be a part of ongoing maintenance for continued sobriety.

Alcoholism Signs | Turning Point of Tampa

Alcoholism Signs

People who misuse alcohol will begin to need alcohol to function. They will not engage in normal activities because of their alcohol dependency. Mild or moderate drinking may work for some but being aware of alcohol abuse and alcoholism can have some rethinking drinking.

A helpful alcohol abuse self-checklist can include the following questions:

  • Do people I trust suggest that I drink excessively?

  • Do I crave alcohol?

  • Have I ever questioned if alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence is happening in my life?

  • Are my daily living skills – eating, waking up on time, hygiene, affected by alcohol abuse?

  • Is my social support strained – my job, family, friends due to my drinking?

What is Binge Drinking?

Binge drinking is when someone drinks an excessive amount of alcohol in a short period of time, resulting in shame or guilt. From the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, this refers to when someone not only has more than one drink in a short amount of time but may have a several drinks in an hour or less. For a typical adult, this pattern corresponds to consuming four or more drinks (female) or five or more drinks (male), in about 2-hour time frame.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which conducts the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), defines binge drinking as five or more alcoholic drinks for males or four or more alcoholic drinks for females on the same occasion This can cause an increase in blood alcohol concentration or even worse, other risk factors, which can be detrimental to someone’s health.

How to Tell If Someone May Be Struggling with Alcohol Abuse

Individuals suffering from alcoholism are often in denial or refuse to face their illness. It is important to ask the right questions to assess whether you or a loved one may or may not have an alcohol abuse problem. Alcohol use disorders have specific symptoms of alcoholism.

How to Tell If Someone May Be Struggling with Alcohol Abuse? | Turning Point of Tampa

What does the medical community say about alcoholism?

The medical community has created a list of diagnostic questions to help determine if alcohol related problems lean toward the diagnosis of alcoholism. The diagnosis for alcohol use disorder in the United States is based upon the criteria laid out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association (APS).

Factors and Indicators of Alcoholism

There are many factors and indicators that would suggest that someone is struggling with an alcohol use disorder.

  • Have you had times when you ended up drinking for longer or more than intended?
  • Have you cut back or given up on activities that used to be interesting or important or gave you pleasure, to drink?
  • Have you spent a lot of time drinking, getting alcohol or being sick or being hungover after drinking?
  • Have you wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but could not?
  • Have you spent a lot of time in activities necessary to obtain alcohol, use alcohol, or recover from its effects?
  • Has alcohol interfered with your life- For example, in situations of taking care of your home or family, caused job troubles, or school problems?
  • Have you continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your friends or family?
  • Have you been in situations while drinking or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as swimming, engaging in unsafe sex, driving, using machinery, or walking in a dangerous area)?
  • Have you engaged in uncharacteristic behaviors such as lying or stealing, that may result in legal problems?
  • Have you continued to drink even though it was causing mental health problems such as feeling anxious, depressed, or adding to another health problem?
  • Have you found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?
  • Have you had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want?
  • Have you found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, shakiness, trouble sleeping, sweating, restlessness, a racing heart, or a seizure?

Answering yes to any of these questions will not give a diagnosis, but it is strongly suggested you seek help to explore how alcohol related problems are affecting your life.

Our Approach to Treatment | Turning Point of Tampa

Our Approach to Treatment

At Turning Point of Tampa, we approach the treatment of an alcohol use disorder with education, life skills, counseling, and a safe place to learn to live without drinking. Our goal is to help you or your loved one live free from alcohol and to be happy. Alcohol interferes with the body, mind, and soul of a person who has alcoholism. Moving towards a new way of life without alcohol is achievable. Our clinical team guides our clients every step of the way.

Methods Used to Treat Alcoholism

Our clinical team is well versed in cognitive behavioral therapy, individual therapy, and group therapy. We believe that each person is unique and although different methods of treatment are offered, we devise a treatment plan based on the individual.

In treating an alcohol use disorder, we begin with a thorough biopsychosocial. This initial step allows you and our team to address all physical and mental health concerns, while getting a detailed history of your life experiences.

What is a biopsychosocial?

A biopsychosocial is a type of detailed assessment conducted by our clinical team. Once this is completed, we can look at the interconnection between biology, psychology, and socio-environmental factors.

Once the alcohol is removed, some will battle depression, anxiety, or grief. Some will experience physical ailments such as sleep apnea or intestinal upset. Together we will look at all issues and create goals and objective for a successful treatment plan.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

We treat alcoholism and co-occurring disorders. A dual diagnosis is when there is an additional diagnosis along with alcoholism. We are highly skilled and welcome those who have more than one diagnosis. We have found that in addressing the whole person, we often find the treatment process most successful.

When you or your loved one begins to heal from the struggles of addiction, issues ranging from physical, mental, spiritual may arise. In looking at issues that block someone from being happy and living a productive life, we have found true comfort comes in addressing what is troubling someone at the pace they can address them.

Behavioral health issues ranging from phobias to child abuse are addressed if that path is conducive to living sober and free from alcohol.

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Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Treatment

The first step towards treatment for an alcohol use disorder or substance abuse problem, is to acknowledge that there is a problem and that you or your loved one needs to stop drinking. This may be a situation where you are aware of the problem and seek help directly. Often a loved one becomes aware of the alcohol abuse first. It is in the best interest to address and approach your loved one to stop drinking. No matter, the circumstances, it is important to seek alcohol abuse and alcoholism treatment.

Levels of Care for Alcoholism

Levels of care for the treatment for alcoholism or alcohol abuse include detoxification (detox), residential treatment, day treatment, intensive outpatient, and outpatient.

It is important to have family support during the treatment for an alcohol use disorder, as it makes it easier to process the alcohol or drug addiction. We offer family groups and involvement based on the needs of each client.


Detoxification from alcohol is when the person drinking goes through the physical symptoms of withdrawal. Inpatient hospitalization, or residential with special licenses can allow for this level of service. Doctors will provide medical advice in this component to treat withdrawal from alcohol.

The medical staff at a facility will vary based on their license. The acuity is higher at this level of care and requires twenty-four-hour supervision and observation.

Based on a person’s medical history, medications used to prevent withdrawal symptoms to alleviate as much discomfort as possible.

Signs and Symptoms of Withdrawal

The signs and symptoms of acute alcohol withdrawal start 6 to 24 hours after the last drink. (SAMHSA TIP 45)

  • Restlessness, irritability, anxiety, agitation
  • Anorexia (lack of appetite), nausea, vomiting
  • Tremor (shakiness), elevated heart rate, increased blood pressure
  • Insomnia, intense dreaming, nightmares
  • Poor concentration, impaired memory, and judgment
  • Increased sensitivity to sound, light, and tactile sensations
  • Hallucinations (auditory, visual, or tactile)
  • Delusions, usually of paranoid or persecutory varieties
  • Grand mal seizures (grand mal seizures represent a severe, generalized, abnormal electrical discharge of the major portions of the brain, resulting in loss of consciousness, brief cessation of breathing, and muscle rigidity followed by muscle jerking; a brief period of sleep, awakening later with some mild to even severe confusion, occurs)
  • Hyperthermia (high fever)
  • Delirium with disorientation regarding time, place, person, and situation; fluctuation in level of consciousness

Residential Treatment

As one of the few licensed residential treatment centers in Florida, Turning Point of Tampa is proud to offer our clients the ability to stay in a safe, sober environment while in treatment. We have around the clock staff and offer a highly intensive therapy and counseling milieu. Utilizing the 12-Step model for addiction treatment, we have helped thousands of clients over the past three decades.

Day Treatment

Turning Point of Tampa offers day treatment in a unique way. Our clients come to us daily to participate in our structured counseling and therapeutic milieu. At the end of the day, they either go home, or reside in our transitional residence. This living situation offers needed support as someone starts to participate in their daily life outside of the treatment center.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment

Turning Point of Tampa offers intensive outpatient treatment. Our clinical staff meets with clients who want to be sober and can attend set session times during the week. These sessions are consistent and will involve the clinical team creating a successful treatment plan for each client. All clients at this level of care can participate in daily life. Many clients in this level of care have a job, are in school or are volunteering in the community. There is no housing option available in this level of care.

Outpatient Treatment

Traditional outpatient will occur based on the need of each client. Individual and group will be offered as well as any additional services requested. An outpatient program offers fewer hours than the intensive outpatient program.

Recovery Maintenance Activities

Support groups such as alcoholics anonymous (AA) or our Turning Point of Tampa Alumni meeting are important to stay active in recovery.

Alcohol Use and Mental Illness

If you or someone you love is entering a treatment program for alcoholism, they will face some initial obstacles, which is normal. It takes some time for them to become comfortable in the program and accept all the symptoms that come when they stop drinking.

Alcoholism, alcohol abuse, or heavy drinking is often connected with mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. During treatment, our clinical team will help you examine the underlying cause and together with you and your loved ones, determine a strategy to address these issues.

Using alcohol or other drugs can be a coping strategy for individuals who are struggling and have no other options to treat the pain they are facing. Facing the alcohol abuse and alcoholism is the big hurdle. In treating an alcohol use disorder, we will also address what other mental health disorders are present.

Alcohol and Addiction Treatment at Turning Point of Tampa

We emphasize community at Turning Point of Tampa, which is why we utilize a combination of clinical approaches. Highly structured, our treatment is conducted in a safe, sober supportive environment. Utilizing the twelve-step philosophy, we place an emphasis on the physical, emotional, spiritual, and environmental factors of the whole person.

Our goal is for our clients to leave treatment with the tools they need to stay sober and free from drug or alcohol abuse.

Alcohol and Addiction Treatment at Turning Point of Tampa

Our treatment team includes psychiatrists, registered nurses, master’s level therapists, licensed mental health counselors, registered dieticians, social workers, and certified addiction professionals who all can guide you or your loved on the journey to recovery.

If you feel that you or someone you care about has a problem with alcohol, please call us at (800) 397-3006 or email us at

Levels of Care

At Turning Point of Tampa we offer a comprehensive continuum of care, including primary and extended care programs, intensive outpatient and weekly aftercare groups.