Legal and Social Problems Faced by Alcoholics

The legal and social problems faced by people with alcoholism are well understood by researchers and clinicians working in the field of substance use disorder treatment but may not be well understood by populations most adversely affected by these legal and social issues. Researchers believe that most legal and social problems faced by alcoholics prior to treatment are a direct result of the impaired cognition, balance, attention, and decision making that is caused by heavy drinking. It should be noted that people with no history of problem drinking will rarely have more than one episode of heavy drinking in the last year when surveyed, although these numbers could be affected by the global pandemic. Women who have had more than 4 drinks on multiple occasions in the last year, and men who have had more than 5 drinks on multiple occasions in the last year should be the first individuals screened for alcoholism and alcohol use disorder according to work published in the Journal of Psychological Medicine. Conversely, in the substance use disorder treatment field, we often recommend screening for alcoholism or substance use disorder based on factors including negative outcomes from substance use. Individuals in Alcoholism Anonymous may be familiar with the idea that an alcoholic will continue to drink even when facing serious negative effects from that drinking. The researchers discuss these social and legal problems that people often face, including issues at work. At the best alcohol and drug rehabs in Florida, including Florida Springs Wellness and Recovery Center, experts will assess for legal and social problems at intake, and take a multidisciplinary approach to helping patients meet these challenges in treatment.

Common Social Problems Associated with Alcohol Use

Research found that the most common problems experienced by people with alcohol use disorder were missing work (83.5%), major altercations with family members (68.8%), assaulting someone while intoxicated (53.8%), and driving while intoxicated (59.2%). The quantity of alcohol consumed per week was significantly higher in patients who described facing more than one of these social problems. It is obvious to anyone who works in drug and alcohol treatment, but readers should note that the public and the family of alcoholic people feel the brunt of many of these social problems. From the World Health Organization, we also can learn that alcohol is also a huge factor in much more serious issues faced by communities. They note, in their Global Status of Alcohol report (2018), that the most violent assaults, violent child abuse, and the most violent incidence of domestic violence often involve alcohol and a person consuming alcohol well beyond what is average or normal for any population. That report also notes that a correlation has been found between the density of alcohol shops in an area and violent domestic violence incidence levels. Alcohol use also increases suicidal thoughts and depression in individuals. The best alcohol and drug rehabs in Florida will screen for suicidal thoughts and behaviors, because of these strong commonalities between alcohol use and depression.

Legal Issues Faced During Treatment

It is unfortunate that often when a person finally decides to seek treatment for alcoholism and drug addiction, it is often at the time that they are facing serious legal consequences from their history of substance abuse. It is obvious from the information above that people with long histories of heavy drinking will often bring legal trouble with them when seeking treatment or rehab for alcohol and drug addiction. Many studies have shown that people in jail have a high probability of having suffered from drug addiction or alcoholism. Less studies have tried to look at the population of people in treatment and accessed that population for social and legal issues. Experts who have looked closely at populations in the best treatment centers and rehabs around the country believe that while we treat people for drug and alcohol use disorder, we should also have targeted outreach for legal aid, domestic abuse treatment and prevention, and occupation related work. The best drug and alcohol rehabs in Florida, including Florida Springs, may already do much of this, but more is needed as we know that many people who are getting sober are also trying to piece back together broken social and legal realities.

By T.A. Cannon (Contact me at


Pernanen K. Alcohol and crimes of violence. In: Kissin B (Ed.) Social aspects of alcoholism. New York: Plenum Press, 1976, 351–444.

WHO. Global status report on alcohol and health 2018. Geneva: WHO, 2018, (cited December 15, 2019).