Alcohol Treatment: When to Know It’s Time for Help

Thirty-four years ago, the National Coalition on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc., created a campaign to raise awareness about alcohol addiction. They decided to designate April as Alcohol Awareness Month. Every April, the heightened awareness allows people to ask questions and receive answers about alcohol addiction. Maybe you contemplate your own drinking behavior and wonder if it’s turned into an addiction. There’s no better time than now to reflect on it and determine if you can benefit from alcohol addiction treatment.

Misconceptions About Alcohol Addiction

There are misconceptions about alcohol addiction. Maybe you heard someone say they don’t have an addiction to alcohol because they can function at work and home. Some believe drinking “a few too many” or only drinking on the weekends doesn’t make you a person with an alcohol problem. Suppose you drink when you are out with your friends and can’t remember events from the night prior; or drinking unwittingly helps you deal with depression or anxiety. Such things can indicate that you have an alcohol use disorder. 

Do I Have an Alcohol Problem?

The guidelines from moderate drinking to alcohol addiction are set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The agencies considered the difference between women and men, effects on the mind, body and behavior. After rigorous research, they published guidelines that are updated every few years. The updates ensure you have the healthiest standards for your well-being. The guidelines for each category of drinking are included below. A note about their guidance — if you don’t drink, you don’t need to start; if you do drink, you can use this information to gauge how much you do drink.

  • Moderate Consumption
    • Women and men react differently to the amount of alcohol they consume. This is why the HHS and USDA decided that standard protocol is one drink per day for women and approximately two drinks per day for men. 
  • Binge Drinking
    • You can reason that you don’t have a drinking problem because you only drink on the weekends, at parties or get-togethers. Now ask yourself how many drinks you have during these events. Binge drinking is when a woman has four or more drinks and a man has five or more drinks within two hours or at the event. Another qualifier is if you drink like this at least one day a month.
  • Heavy Drinking
  • Alcohol Addiction
    • Alcohol addiction is identified by several behaviors, some of which are:
      • At times you drink longer or more than you planned on.
      • You can’t decrease or stop drinking on your own despite your attempts to stop.
      • Drinking consumes your thoughts — you have urges or cravings.
      • You spend a lot of time drinking, feeling ill or having hangovers frequently.

What If I’m Able to Function Normally in My Life?

In some alcohol addiction cases, a person can fit the alcohol addiction criteria but not show addiction signs. Maybe you have a high-functioning alcohol addiction. To others, you can appear to have it together, meet work deadlines, participate in social gatherings and never show the signs of being drunk. Some symptoms are:

  • Joking about alcohol dependence
  • Having legal problems 
  • Drinking at any time during the day
  • Experiencing blackouts or passing out
  • Lying about drinking or hiding your drinking
  • Making excuses for why you drink

Do you see your alcohol consumption patterns or behaviors in any of the symptoms listed? If you have one or more of the symptoms, you can also have past trauma or a mental health disorder. When you are ready to begin a healthier life, you can seek help.

Finding Strength in Addiction Treatment

Before you stop drinking, you should reach out to others or look online for treatment centers that provide mental health and addiction treatment. If you recognize your drinking patterns as either heavy drinking or alcohol addiction, don’t stop drinking. Call a treatment center and enter a medical detox program. Alcohol withdrawal can have serious side effects that require medical assistance; don’t attempt to detox by yourself. 

Seeking help for alcohol addiction is the beginning of a healthier you. Once you complete your search and you have options of where to go, call the treatment centers. Are you hesitant to reach out for help because you don’t want to leave home? When you begin treatment, you will undergo an assessment to determine the type of care you require to meet your unique needs, whether that’s a residential program or outpatient program. 

Addiction treatment isn’t a sign of weakness; it is a sign of your strength. You made a difficult decision to address your alcohol addiction and any mental health issues you may have. It’s time to focus on your health, emotional and physical needs without distractions in a serene setting. Consider what you need for a successful start to your recovery journey. 


Alcohol Awareness Month is a great way to learn about alcohol addiction and assess if you need addiction treatment. The guidelines set by HHS and the USDA are helpful because they can expose unhealthy patterns you can have when you consume alcohol. Alcohol addiction isn’t a cause for shame, embarrassment or guilt. When you recognize harmful patterns and seek treatment, you can increase your chances of leading a healthier life. Cliffside Malibu is here to support you in your search for an alcohol-free life. We believe you deserve to have a private, comfortable and luxurious environment as you navigate your journey to a sober life. Our center allows you to explore your mental health needs, creates a treatment plan that is unique to you and allows you to discover beneficial coping skills. To learn more about alcohol treatment at Cliffside Malibu, call (855) 403-5641.