Skip to content


Alcohol Misuse and Addiction

While tiny Delaware has a lot going for it, one might be shocked to learn how prevalent alcohol abuse is among its residents. In 2013 the CDC estimated that about 250 deaths – approximately 7,400 years of life – are lost each year to alcohol deaths in Delaware.

If you or a loved one is dealing with alcohol abuse, it’s essential to reach out to a properly trained and experienced doctor for help. Dr. Fabricio Alarcon is Board- Certified in Internal Medicine and is a substance abuse medicine specialist. He and his talented staff at Atlantic Family Physicians are fully qualified to help with this pervasive problem.

Our practice, based in Georgetown, provides an alternative to traditional alcohol programs. Our skilled team will help you throughout the process and work to make it less challenging to beat your addiction and live a clean and sober life.

We’re also dedicated to aiding those with an alcohol addiction who use other substances. For example, our lifesaving Medication for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) protocols can assist those also taking substances like heroin, fentanyl, or prescription medications like Vicodin and OxyContin.

Dr. Alarcon works with a staff of highly knowledgeable nurse practitioners who are well-versed in treating and prescribing medications associated with alcoholism. Our team helps patients enjoy a healthier life that results in recovery from addiction.

We take great pride in helping patients recover from alcohol abuse and other addictions. As the use of alcohol expands across the state, we use our expertise and knowledge to help anyone who needs this critical assistance.

As a patient of ours, you’ll find medical professionals qualified to providing alcohol addiction services to patients in Lewes, Rehoboth Beach, Georgetown, and other locations in Sussex County, Delaware.

The Basics of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Alcohol abuse is defined as “the habitual misuse of alcohol.” It manifests as a pattern of drinking too much alcohol on a too frequent basis. Alcohol abuse can interfere with daily life and cause suffering for the person who experiences alcohol addiction. It may make it difficult to function at work, school or other areas of life.

The continuation of alcohol abuse may lead to chronic, life-threatening alcoholism. Alcoholism occurs when your body is dependent on alcohol. If you have alcoholism and suddenly stop drinking, you can suffer serious side effects, up to and including death. It’s considered alcohol abuse if any of the following statements is true:

  • If you are female and drink more than three drinks at once or seven drinks per week.
  • If you are male and drink more than four drinks at once or 14 drinks per week.
  • If you are older than 65 and of any gender and drink more than three drinks at once or seven drinks per week.
  • If consuming alcohol in the amounts you do harms your work, health, and relationships or leads to legal problems.

When we refer to a drink, the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines it as the following:

  • 12 ounces of a 5% alcohol regular beer
  • 5 ounces of a 12% alcohol wine
  • 1.5 ounces of a 40+% alcohol distilled spirit
alcohol addiction
Standard drink and bar alcohol size for beer, wine or distilled spirit volume example in ounces.

Dr. Alarcon can assist you if you are abusing alcohol or believe you may be experiencing alcoholism. We’ll support you with medication and other resources to help you break the hold that alcohol has over your life.

Worldwide, alcohol use disorder, alcohol abuse, and alcoholism lead to the death of 3,000,000 each year. About 95,000 people in the United States die from the effects of alcohol use on a yearly basis.

It’s estimated that about 7% of adults who drink have alcohol use disorder. Consumption of alcohol has also increased by about 60% since the beginning of COVID-19 lockdowns.

Delaware has a lower-than-average death rate compared to other states, but it is still a problem that requires a substance abuse doctor such as Dr. Alarcon. In addition, of those who do experience death due to alcohol, individuals under 21 have an increased risk.

delaware alcohol death statistics
  • About 280 deaths each year are attributed to the use of excessive alcohol.
  • Approximately 71% of deaths are among males.
  • Long-term alcohol abuse effects cause over 48% of deaths.
  • About 80% of the deaths occur in those 35 or younger.
  • Just over 4% of the deaths are experienced by those under 21.
  • Delaware averages one alcohol-based death for every 2,771 adults or 3.5 deaths among 10,000 adults.

With such high risks associated with alcohol abuse, a substance abuse physician such as Dr. Alarcon can help. Having the proper medications and treatments available on an out-patient basis can be lifesaving for those who do not wish to enter in-patient treatment. In addition, Atlantic Family Physicians can help you create goals, get ready for change, and finally find a solution for your alcohol problem.

Alcohol use disorder, which is also known as alcoholism, is a pattern of using alcohol to the point where you are preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes issues, and needing to drink more alcohol to get the same effects that you experienced in the past.

Alcohol abuse can be characterized as mild, moderate or severe. An addiction specialist can help you determine where you fall on the scale and explain your options for moving into sobriety. The number of symptoms you encounter will determine how severe your alcohol abuse problem is.

Some of the symptoms and signs related to alcohol abuse include:

  • Feeling unable to limit how much alcohol you drink.
  • Spending large amounts of time getting alcohol, drinking, and recovering from drinking.
  • Wanting to drink less but being unsuccessful when you try.
  • Feeling severe urges and cravings to consume alcohol.
  • Drinking alcohol, even when aware that it causes interpersonal, social, or physical issues.
  • Not meeting important obligations at school, work, or home due to alcohol use.
  • Consuming alcohol in unsafe situations, such as when swimming or driving.
  • Reducing or stopping work and social activities or hobbies.
  • Experiencing alcohol tolerance where you need to drink more to get prior effects and have reduced effects from the same amount.
  • Dealing with withdrawal symptoms, such as shaking, sweating and nausea, when you are not drinking or drinking to prevent these symptoms.

While these symptoms may indicate that someone is experiencing alcohol abuse, there are also effects of so much drinking.

Excessive drinking can lead to many physical and mental problems, including the following:

  • Elevated risk of some types of cancer
  • Mood and behavioral changes
  • Pancreas problems
  • Heart issues
  • Liver damage
alcoholism effects and symptoms

Rather than choosing in-patient residential treatment, Dr. Alarcon and his team can help you gain control of your alcohol addiction on an out-patient basis. This gives you more time to live your life and take care of your responsibilities while acquiring the care and medication you may need to stop drinking alcohol on a long-term basis.

What Happens When You Stop Drinking Without Substance Abuse Doctors?

For someone who abuses alcohol, stopping on your own is not necessarily the best course of action. It can be dangerous and even deadly. Your body is used to consuming alcohol and will create symptoms if you stop independently. Withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • headaches
  • anxiety
  • tremors or shakes
  • insomnia
  • fatigue
  • gastrointestinal disturbances
  • heart palpitations
  • increased blood pressure
  • mood changes
  • seizures
  • increased heart rate
  • hyperthermia
  • rapid abnormal breathing
  • hallucinations
  • death

In addition, the psychological symptoms may include depression, anxiety, mood swings, confusion, nightmares, and irritability. If an experienced substance abuse physician like Dr. Alarcon does not manage the symptoms, you could experience alcohol withdrawal delirium. This may lead to seizures or death —  underlining the importance of working with a doctor specializing in alcohol abuse cases.

At Atlantic Family Physicians, we can prescribe medications that stave off and reduce the withdrawal symptoms you experience when you stop drinking. If an opioid addiction is involved as well, know that Dr. Alarcon is one of a select few MOUD doctors in Delaware, Dr. Alarcon trained to provide the appropriate medications.

Rather than entering an in-patient rehab center or choosing partial hospitalization care, patients receive care from a primary care facility on an ongoing basis. We provide the resources and medications you need to fight your alcohol abuse in a safe environment.

The most common medication to treat alcohol abuse is Vivitrol — especially among those who also use opioids. Vivitrol can be used to help prevent relapse and may be part of the care you receive from Dr. Alarcon and staff. The medication can help reduce your need for alcohol and is available as a convenient monthly injection.

If you struggle with alcohol abuse, the staff at Atlantic Family Physicians can help by providing an addiction specialist and getting you on track to quit with a clear plan. We provide integrative medication and comprehensive care to meet your individual needs.

If you have an alcohol addiction and require help in Sussex County, reach out to us today to set your first appointment with Dr. Alarcon.