Addictions: Alcohol

Everyone likes a cool beer after work or a glass of wine with their dinner don’t they?  This may be true for most people, but it’s important to remember that for some it is actually an addictive drug that can affect you both physically and mentally.

Alcohol Addictions

In the UK it is estimated that about one in nine people shows signs of alcohol dependence (alcoholism), meaning that alcohol is no longer just a nice pastime for them to relax but has now become a necessity, something they feel they are unable to function without.

Alcohol abuse and addiction has varying forms.  There is the stereotypical picture that springs to mind of a man or woman stumbling around, with a brown paper bag and living on the streets; this image may be correct in some cases but is incorrect in general.  The truth is that alcohol abuse and dependence can affect anyone, from doctors and politicians to stay at home mothers, wealthy or poor.

There are varying degrees of alcohol dependence and they don’t always involve drinking in excessive amounts.  A person with alcohol dependence may have the need to drink a bottle of wine each day, or needs a few drinks to unwind after a day at the office, or maybe is just a weekend binge drinker who always knows that the promise of alcohol is just a few days away.  It’s not just about the amount that is drunk but about how it affects someone psychologically and physically.

Stressful events, such as bereavement or losing a job, can also trigger heavy drinking, which can then lead to alcohol dependence.

People who are alcohol dependant tend to have higher rates of other mental health disorders such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and other substance abuse.   It is common for people to drink to alleviate the symptoms of, for example, depression by drinking (self-medicating), but this generally only makes the issue worse in the long term as it only has the effect of hiding the underlying problems.

Alcohol Addictions

Being alcohol dependant can affect many parts of your life, your relationships with family and friends, work may suffer (being late, unable to function properly because of a withdrawals or a hangover, causing potential  job loss and therefore money problems), all of which can then lead back to drinking as the solution to the problem. Often this becomes a vicious cycle, a pattern of drinking despite the negative effects and consequences.

Some signs and symptoms of  a drinking dependence include: drinking to escape problems, drinking alone, drinking for the sole purpose of getting drunk, hiding alcohol, having blackouts (periods of time during a drinking episode where memory loss occurs), feeling irritated when unable to drink, having problems as a result of drinking, drinking on a daily basis, having problems controlling the amount of alcohol consumed, starting to drink only at a certain time of day, binge drinking, having periods of using alcohol excessively followed by periods of abstinence followed by further periods of alcohol abuse; these are just some of the different ways a person with an alcohol dependence or addiction problem will drink.  Severe signs include withdrawals including sweats, shaking, nausea or even alcoholic convulsions.

Alcohol abuse or addiction is recognised by the medical profession as a disease and is the third most common mental illness.  It can be life threatening and can affect virtually every organ system in the body.


Questions you can ask yourself to see if you have an alcohol dependence or alcoholism problem?

  • Do you worry about where your next drink is coming from? Planning your days, social, family and work events around your drinking?
  • Do you find you have a compulsive need to drink and find it hard to stop once you have started?
  • Have you every decided to stop drinking for a period of days or weeks, but find you only managed to last a few days?
  • Do people mention your drinking, stating that they think you drink too much?
  • Do you ever think you won’t be able to have a good time or fit in with others if you don’t drink?
  • Have you every changed the type of drink you drink, for example from beer to wine or to spirits, thinking this would help you not to get so drunk?
  • Have you had any problems with family, friends, work, or legally in the last year?
  • Have you had any health problems related to your drinking in the last year?
  • Have you ever had a blackout (periods of time during a drinking episode where memory loss occurs)?
  • Do you have a need to take a drink first thing in the morning?
  • Do you suffer from withdrawal symptoms (shakes, nausea, vomiting) which stop once you take the next drink?
  • Do you tell yourself you can stop drinking whenever you want to, even though you find yourself drunk when you didn’t mean to?
  • Do you ever feel bad or guilty about your alcohol use?

If you find you answer YES to four or more of these questions, you may have alcohol dependence.


Cortijo Care are here to help.

Treatment at Cortijo Care is set up to help anyone suffering from an alcohol dependency.

Our 24 Hour Acute programme is there to help those suffering from withdrawals,  giving a medically controlled detox programme; Our Rehabilitation programme then treats the psychological issues surrounding the addiction, enabling clients to learn how to cope with life without the need to use alcohol, getting to the root of the whys and wherefores of the alcohol dependence and learning how to handle emotions and anxieties in a safe place.

Please call us on (34) 952 780 181 for a no obligation chat about how we can help you or your family member, friend or loved one or complete the contact form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

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Gemma Wood Dip, HE (MBACP) – Head of Cortijo Cares Counselling & Psychotherapy Department and Alexandra Madureira MBPsS – Psychologist at Cortijo Care discuss the issues around Alcoholism on Talk Radio Europe.

Cortijo Care TRE Interview on Alcoholism from Cortijo Care on Vimeo.