According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 14.5 million people aged over 12 are struggling with an alcohol use disorder in the United States. This means that alcohol abuse accounts for more than 70% of every substance use disorder diagnosis in the country, and more than 4% of the population has diagnosable alcohol problems.

While the majority of people are able to regulate their intake, it’s much more than a matter of choice or willpower for those who can’t control their drinking. At Calusa Recovery, we’ve helped thousands of people gain control over unhealthy excessive alcohol consumption. If you’re looking for help to stop drinking, call us today at 844-254-9664.

What Is Alcohol?

Happy hispanic man talking to his support group about his successful fight with alcohol abuse

Drinking alcohol has been a pastime in human civilizations for an estimated 9,000 years. People mainly drink alcohol to lubricate social occasions or to relax after a long day at work. It’s produced by the fermentation of yeast, starch and sugar, usually from fruits or grains.

Alcohol is a depressant of the central nervous system and is broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream quickly by the stomach and small intestine. People quickly feel its effects, which include decreased inhibitions, relaxation, mild euphoria and physical symptoms such as slurred speech and unsteady gait.

What Is Too Much Alcohol?

If you abuse alcohol, it means you drink it in quantities at a greater frequency than is healthy for your body. Alcohol abuse occurs for a number of reasons, from the harmless desire to have fun to the more harmful need to mask the symptoms of mental disorders. While it’s not the same as alcohol addiction, people who are at risk for substance abuse disorders put themselves in danger by excessive drinking.

The exact quantity that it’s safe for you to consume depends on factors such as gender, family history, race, age and weight. If alcohol is something you consume on a regular basis and you feel you’d struggle to get through life without it, there’s a good chance you’ve gone beyond moderate drinking and might have an alcohol problem.

Risk Factors for Alcohol Dependence

Addiction is included in the DSM 5 manual of mental health disorders, and just like other types of mental illness, a range of risk factors are at play. In the past, people saw addiction as a simple matter of poor decision-making or weak will power, but we now understand there’s much more to it.

People who are susceptible to addiction have the perfect storm of genetic, environmental and mental health characteristics that put them at a higher risk of developing a substance use disorder.


More than 50 genes are thought to contribute to the formation of alcoholism and drug addiction. Genes are responsible for a wide range of behaviors and traits, with genes dictating a high physical capacity for alcohol consumption playing a role. Behavioral traits such as mental health problems, emotional sensitivity, sensation-seeking and impulsivity are also strongly correlated with addiction.


Even if someone has all the right genes to become addicted, they won’t be triggered unless the perfect storm of environmental factors is also present. Inadequate parental supervision, peer pressure and using addictive substances at an early age put people at an increased risk of developing alcoholism.

signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse

Florida Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Statistics

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 88,000 people die as a result of alcohol abuse, rendering it a serious public health concern. There are also some concerning local statistics regarding excessive alcohol use, such as:

  • There’s been a 2.2% increase in the number of adults in Florida who engaged in heavy or binge drinking between 2002 and 2019.
  • The number of alcohol-related deaths increased by 72% between 2012 and 2019.
  • 18% of Floridians engage in heavy or binge drinking.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorders

If you’re concerned that you or a loved one might require treatment for alcohol use disorder, look for the following symptoms of alcohol abuse:

  • Alcohol smell on the breath
  • Sweating
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Issues with performance at work or school
  • Dry skin and brittle nails
  • Changes in friendship groups
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Tremors
  • Poor balance
  • Preoccupation with drinking
  • Weight changes
  • Changes in personal care
A woman in deep thoughts, hand on her forehead

Health Issues Associated With Repeated Alcohol Use

Alcohol abuse involves regularly ingesting toxic amounts of alcohol, which is poisonous to the body. While the liver can process small quantities without issue for most people, excessive drinking can lead to a range of health problems, such as:

health risks of alcohol addiction concept image
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Liver disease
  • Weakened immune system
  • Breast cancer and other forms of cancer
  • Brain damage

How Alcohol Affects the Mind, Body & Spirit

While alcohol is mainly a central nervous depressant, it also has some stimulant effects when you’re initially intoxicated. Intoxication leads to feelings of euphoria, loss of inhibition, sleepiness, increased confidence and decreased anxiety.

Alcohol is a poisonous substance to the body, forcing the liver to work hard to clear a buildup of toxins from the body. This is the reason people experience hangovers and negative effects such as digestive discomfort or nausea when they drink. Addicted people often have a high tolerance for alcohol and very much enjoy the sensation of being out of control. Drinking in large quantities is one of the biggest risk factors for developing alcoholism.

What Happens During Alcohol Addiction Treatment?

At Calusa Recovery, we diagnose alcohol use disorder in your initial assessment and then create a customized treatment plan according to your specific needs. No two alcohol rehab programs look the same, but below is a general explanation of what to expect during alcohol rehab.


The first step is to complete our intake assessment, which includes a medical exam, questionnaires and an analysis of your medical history. Our team of addiction specialists uses the information gathered during this process to formulate a treatment plan tailored to your individual needs.

intake assessment for alcoholism


You’ll take part in a combination of individual therapy, group therapy and experiential therapy sessions while in alcohol rehab. Additional activities such as psychoeducation, yoga and meditation help you understand yourself and addiction better and cultivate a recovery mindset. Holistic therapies such as art and music therapy complete the positive and varied environment in which you’re free to express yourself and your feelings.

Some examples of evidence-based therapies you might engage in include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Trauma-informed therapy
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Psychotherapy
trauma-informed therapy session cropped image


Addiction is a chronic disease with a high potential for relapse if you don’t actively maintain and develop the skills you learn in rehab. As such, aftercare is just as important as the treatment itself, and at Calusa Recovery, we provide ongoing support to alumni to help you remain committed to recovery.

Young adult talking in front of support group

Alcohol Rehab in Fort Myers, Florida

Don’t let alcohol use disorder claim your health and happiness. Call Calusa Recovery today at 844-254-9664 to speak to an addiction expert about how we can help you overcome alcohol abuse and alcoholism.

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