What Is Alcohol Use Disorder?


In the U.S., alcohol is everywhere. From social gatherings and celebrations to casual evenings at home, it seems to have woven itself into the fabric of our lives. It’s no wonder that it can be incredibly hard to recognize when someone’s alcohol use becomes a problem. Even drinking to excess is widely accepted and often dismissed by others as “just having a good time” or “letting loose,” despite the fact that it may signify a deeper issue.

The reality is that alcohol is an addictive substance that can negatively affect our health, relationships and overall well-being. In the short term, drinking lowers a person’s inhibitions, impairs their judgment and alters their behavior. It may also cause slurred speech, a loss of coordination and large gaps in memory known as blackouts or brownouts.

The long-term effects of prolonged alcohol use are even more troubling and may include liver damage, neurological impairment, mood changes and an increased risk of cancer, as well as a multitude of social, legal and professional problems brought on by excessive drinking.

At Pathfinders Recovery Center, we understand how alcohol can disrupt lives and create immense challenges for individuals and their loved ones. If you or someone you care about is struggling with alcohol addiction, we provide structured and supportive treatment programs in Scottsdale, Arizona, that can help you quit drinking and embrace a sober lifestyle.


Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a chronic and progressive disease characterized by compulsive and uncontrollable drinking despite negative consequences. It is a complex condition that involves both physical and psychological dependence on alcohol.

Degrees of alcohol abuse vary, and not everyone who drinks will become addicted. Some people are able to drink socially and in moderation, while others cannot. Individuals with alcohol use disorder experience frequent cravings to drink and find it challenging to quit or limit how much they consume. If they’ve been struggling with their addiction for a long time, they also begin to experience dangerous withdrawal symptoms if they do not drink.

This is similar to withdrawal from other drugs, where the body becomes dependent on a particular substance and violently reacts when use is suddenly stopped or decreased. In the case of alcohol, withdrawal can cause seizures and even death if a person is not monitored or given the appropriate medication, making detox an important part of the recovery process.

Alcoholism is a challenging condition with far-reaching consequences, but it is treatable. With the right support and guidance, individuals can get sober and regain control of their lives.


The Four Stages of Alcoholism

If you think you or a loved one has a drinking problem, there are many signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse, though not every person displays them all. Some common signs include:

  • Repeated tardiness or absence at work or school
  • Not remembering what happened when drinking
  • Health problems caused by drinking alcohol
  • Difficulty controlling the amount of alcohol consumed
  • Being hungover or sick after consuming alcohol interferes with everyday activities
  • Being injured or hurting others while drinking
  • Concealing drinking habits
  • Continued drinking even though it affects relationships at home and work


Alcoholism is influenced by a number of different factors. While not everyone who drinks will develop alcohol use disorder, there are certain risk factors that increase its likelihood.


Family history plays a significant role in alcohol use disorder. Individuals with a close relative who has struggled with drinking are more likely to develop the condition themselves.


The environment in which a person grows up and lives can contribute to the risk of becoming dependent on alcohol. Factors such as exposure to alcohol at an early age, parental modeling of heavy drinking, influence from peers and social groups and a history of trauma or abuse can all increase the likelihood of developing alcohol use disorder.


Co-occurring mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, are commonly associated with harmful drinking. Individuals may turn to alcohol as a means of self-medication, attempting to alleviate their symptoms.


Friends, family and societal expectations can affect drinking behavior. If an individual is surrounded by peers who promote excessive alcohol use as a norm, it may lead to harmful drinking patterns. The pressure to conform is often strongest for teens and young adults.


Alcoholism has a variety of short and long-term consequences on our health and well-being. Over the course of time, alcohol not only damages your brain and makes it difficult to function normally, but it also has devastating consequences on the body. When abused, alcohol can cause problems with vital organs such as the heart, liver, kidneys and stomach, potentially leading to life-threatening complications and the development of chronic diseases.

In addition to these health effects, many people with alcohol use disorder experience legal issues due to run-ins with the law. Heavy drinking reduces impulsive control and can lead to risky behaviors such as driving while intoxicated, getting into fights and other criminal acts. The fines incurred and the cost of a lawyer can add up and also cause financial troubles.

However, one of the most distressing long-term effects of alcohol abuse is the chaos left behind by that person’s actions while they were drinking or using drugs. Many who struggle with alcohol addiction have caused a lot of pain to their loved ones while under the influence, whether by stealing, lying, cheating or causing physical harm. Repairing this damage takes time and often requires the assistance of family or couples therapy and counseling.


Excessive drinking claims the lives of thousands of Americans each year. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate it is responsible for more than 380 deaths per day. Unfortunately, Arizona is no stranger to the toll of alcohol abuse. While below the national average, 17% of adults report binge drinking and harmful alcohol use continues to rise, putting countless people at risk of developing addiction or dependency issues.

According to the CDC, alcohol use in Arizona also costs the state nearly $6 million — $2.27 per drink or $930 per person — in lost workplace productivity, health care expenses, criminal justice expenses and car crashes. When it comes to cost per drink or person, this makes Arizona one of the top 10 states that pay the heftiest price for excessive alcohol consumption.

Fortunately, Arizona offers a range of resources and programs designed to help individuals overcome alcohol-related challenges. From counseling services to residential treatment programs like those found at Pathfinders, there are options available to address the issue of problematic drinking and alcohol use disorders effectively. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol use, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for help and support.


At Pathfinders Recovery Center, we recognize that recovering from alcohol use is a deeply complex and personal journey. Heavy drinking takes a toll on the mind and body, and time is needed to heal from the damage we have caused. Our experienced team is committed to providing you with support and guidance throughout the entire treatment process, along with personalized care that addresses your unique needs to help you get and stay sober.


Each person’s recovery journey is unique, so we offer flexible treatment options to meet a variety of needs and preferences. This lets individuals receive the level of care that works best for them and transition seamlessly into another program as their needs evolve.


Therapy helps to address the root cause of addictive behaviors and helps individuals gain the tools, strategies and coping skills they need to achieve and maintain lasting recovery. Our treatment center utilizes a variety of therapeutic modalities, such as:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Support groups
  • Holistic treatments 
  • Individual and group therapy sessions


Recovery is a lifelong journey, and our commitment to our clients extends beyond initial treatment. We recognize the importance of long-term care to support individuals in maintaining their sobriety and achieving sustained well-being.

  • Full continuum of care for addiction
  • 30 & 90-day rehab programs
  • Aftercare planning
  • Life skills support & development


For individuals with co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders, treating both conditions simultaneously improves treatment outcomes and supports long-term recovery.

  • Comprehensive mental health assessments
  • Integrated treatment approach
  • Evidence-based therapy options

Treatment Options for Chronic Drinkers


Pathfinders Recovery Center is dedicated to helping you or your loved one recover from alcohol use disorder, get the most out of treatment and be on the road to a healthy, sober lifestyle. We know what it’s like to feel hopeless and afraid, but there is a way out!

If you are ready to start on a new path and break free from the chains of alcoholism, give us a call today at 877-224-0761 or fill out our insurance verification form. We are ready to take your phone calls and answer any questions you may have.


  • 7580 E Gray Rd Suite 201 Scottsdale, AZ 85260
  • (877) 224-0761
  • Mon-Sun: 24x7
  • Mon-Fri: 8:00AM – 4:00PM

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