Category Archives: Alcohol Rehab

What Is Alcoholic Nose or Rhinophyma—Is That More Than a Myth?

what causes rhinophyma or alcoholic nose

You might be familiar with a pervasive stereotype of alcoholics having a red face or a plump, bulbous kind of nose. In many TV shows or movies that are done with a more cartoon or whimsical style, some drunk characters are often portrayed as jolly and perhaps a little loud or accompanied by over-gesticulating and being a tad overbearing.

Nevertheless, the idea of red-faced characters that you might expect to find in a Disney® movie’s tavern have also crossed over in a way to the real world. Now, some individuals who suffer from the so-called “alcoholic nose,” or rhinophyma, as it is medically known, may experience some stigma that prevents them from seeking necessary medical treatment. 

The physical impact of rhinophyma can be a point of self-consciousness for many individuals. After all, nobody really wants to stand out for something like a skin condition they can’t control. One way to help people seek the treatment they need and help them live out healthier and better futures is to provide people with the whole story and clear information.

Today, we’ll guide you through the commonly asked questions and concerns about rhinophyma. Right now you need to know that there are treatments and options available to you or your loved one for this condition! 

So, What Exactly Is Alcoholic Nose? 

The condition known colloquially as “alcoholic nose” or “drinker’s nose” is also known as rhinophyma. Rhinophyma is characterized by redness on and around the nose as well as an enlarged or lumpy appearance of the nose. 

Rhinophyma is a particular skin condition. Usually, rhinophyma involves reddening of the nose and a noticeably bulbous nose, which means that the nose becomes enlarged, more pronounced, and rounder. 

Sometimes, rhinophyma cases can become more severe. Case severity will depend on the individual and certain variables that exist in one’s life that have the potential to aggravate rhinophyma. Severe cases of rhinophyma can see an individual develop an extremely bulbous nose, so much that it appears to be quite disfigured. 

Extreme disfigurement of the nose can narrow the airways in the nose, making it difficult to breathe. The nose may also take on a purple-like hue in these severe rhinophyma cases. 

There are many common misconceptions when it comes to rhinophyma. Of course, there are many snap judgments that people make when they see the physical effects of rhinophyma in person, especially in extreme cases. 

One of the most common misconceptions with rhinophyma is that alcoholism is a cause of rhinophyma, spurring the popular use of the names “alcoholic nose” and “drinker’s nose.” In the past—and even now—the bulbous nose has been thought to be a byproduct of alcoholism. 

Now, more studies have shown that alcoholism is not necessarily the cause of rhinophyma. People can experience rhinophyma without being alcoholics or even drinking much alcohol. This stereotype can put some of those who experience rhinophyma in an embarrassing spot. 

Those who struggle with rhinophyma might feel awkward seeking medical treatment and worry about others incorrectly labeling them as alcoholics or assuming they have a drinking problem. 

Rhinophyma is an entirely unique condition that is separate from alcoholism. It has its own causes and side effects.

What Is Rosacea and How Is it Related To Rhinophyma?

Rosacea is a skin condition that affects plenty of people each year. When a person has rosacea, their skin—especially on the face— will appear red and create visible blood vessels in the face. 

This often looks like some exaggerated patches of red on the face with thin spidery lines along the cheeks and other parts of the face, which are the visible blood vessels. Some people can also experience small scatterings of red bumps that can be filled with pus and the skin could feel warm or mildly irritated. 

The eyes can also be affected by a specific type of rosacea known as ocular rosacea. Ocular rosacea can make the eyelids dry, swollen, red, and irritated. In some cases, people may experience ocular rosacea before symptoms on the skin begin.

According to the Mayo Clinic, rosacea symptoms often come in episodes. The symptoms will flare up for a few weeks or months and then slowly die down. The symptoms might be very mild for an amount of time and then the cycle is repeated again.

Rosacea can affect anybody but it most often affects middle-aged women with lighter skin tones. 

Besides the side effects of redness, visible blood vessels, and irritated eyelids, did you know that rhinophyma can also be a side effect of rosacea? 

Rhinophyma as a Side Effect of Rosacea

Contrary to the stereotype that rhinophyma is caused by alcohol or alcoholism, rosacea is actually the cause of rhinophyma. 

The Mayo Clinic reports that over a long period of time, rosacea can thicken the skin of the nose. This thickening of the nose causes it to become more bulbous, which is the condition you now know as rhinophyma. Although rosacea itself is more common in women than men, the specific side effect of rhinophyma happens more often in men than women.

So, rosacea, not alcoholism, is the root cause of rhinophyma. Now, does this mean that alcohol is completely unrelated to rhinophyma? Not exactly.

Rosacea is a condition that can be aggravated or made worse through factors such as environment, food, and emotions. There are numerous variables that can make a rosacea flare-up worse:

  • Spicy food
  • Hot drinks
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Sunlight 
  • Wind
  • Certain skincare or makeup products
  • Exercise
  • Hot/humid/cold weather
  • Increased anxiety or stress levels
  • Some blood pressure medications

As you can see from that list, alcohol is a factor that can trigger a rosacea flare-up. In this way, alcohol does have some connection to rhinophyma, although alcohol alone is not the root cause of rhinophyma. Instead, if an individual has rosacea and drinks often, they might trigger more rosacea flare-ups, which can lead to increased thickening of the skin on their nose.

However, it’s always important to keep in mind that rhinophyma ultimately manifests itself as a side effect of rosacea. People can experience rhinophyma without drinking alcohol or very occasionally drinking it. 

Treatment for Rosacea

There is not necessarily a cure for rosacea. However, there are several treatments that you can try to control symptoms and reduce visible redness. If you are curious about the options that are available to you, you should consult your primary care physician and see what kinds of treatments they recommend. 

Typically, there are three main ways for treatment to take place:

  • Oral antibiotics - Oral antibiotics will be prescribed based on the severity of your rosacea. There are various levels of severity and some rosacea cases may require stronger medications to manage than others. For moderate to severe rosacea, oral antibiotics can help clear or control the red bumps on the skin.
  • Oral acne prescription - Oral acne prescriptions tend to be reserved for stubborn cases of acne that fail to respond to other kinds of treatments. You might have heard of a strong medication called Accutane® (isotretinoin). For some individuals, rosacea may cause some lesions on the skin that can be cleared through isotretinoin. Strong acne medications like isotretinoin do have some serious side effects to be aware of, such as birth defects. Consult with your doctor before starting medication for your rosacea!
  • Topical prescription - Topical prescriptions are creams or gels that are applied to your skin. Topical prescriptions can help reduce redness by constricting the blood vessels. However, this is not a permanent fix for redness. The topical cream will need to be reapplied since the effect only lasts for a short period of time. 

Treatment for Rhinophyma

When rhinophyma is severe enough, an individual can have trouble breathing. This occurs when the skin of the nose has become bulbous enough to constrict the natural airways of the nose. When your nose is not bulbous or suffering from any significant disfigurement, you can usually breathe like normal through your nose. 

However, rhinophyma can make normal breathing through the nose a challenge. Obviously, this can decrease a person’s quality of life and be a hindrance to daily life and chores. Aside from physical repercussions, those who deal with rhinophyma can also face prejudice for their physical appearance. 

Feeling so self-conscious about the appearance of a nose with rhinophyma can become a great source of anxiety for some people. 

There are usually two avenues for the treatment of rhinophyma:

  • Medication
  • Surgery

Medication is not always enough to control rhinophyma once it has developed. Many times, it can be stubborn and require something stronger, in this case surgery. However, if a case of rhinophyma is less severe, some of the treatments we discussed for rosacea may be used. 

If rhinophyma continues to not respond to medication treatment, surgery will be needed. In surgery, the nose can be reshaped and certain layers of excess skin can be removed that obstruct airways. Surgery for rhinophyma is quite common and is seen as one of the better avenues for improving a patient’s quality of life.  

Signs of Alcoholic Addiction and Misuse

In the end, we have discovered that an alcohol use disorder is not necessarily responsible for rhinophyma. Similarly, this removes the stereotype that everyone who suffers from rhinophyma is an alcoholic. 

However, alcohol can certainly aggravate rosacea. If you have rosacea and struggle with alcohol use, you might be putting yourself at risk of experiencing more severe side effects of rosacea. 

Knowing how to identify your alcohol misuse is the first step to getting treatment. Signs of an alcohol use disorder can include

  • Spending a lot of time drinking
  • Noticing that drinking takes up much of your life
  • Cutting back on social life or other interests to spend time drinking
  • Experiencing cravings to drink
  • Trying to cut back on drinking but failing
  • Drinking more than you intended

Finding Treatment and Healing From Alcoholism

At Pathways Recovery, we offer the finest holistic treatment program for men in Northern California. We understand that alcoholism and alcohol detox is challenging, but it is possible to overcome. At our facility, you will not only be treated for alcohol addiction and its symptoms, but you will be treated as an individual person. We take pride in our program designed for physical and mental well-being. Here, we make lifestyle changes to improve your overall life and future. Contact us today for more information about starting your alcohol detox at 916-735-8377.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a red face a sign of alcoholism?

Some people will experience a flushed or red face when they drink alcohol. A red face alone does not necessarily signify that someone is an alcoholic. Some races, such as Asians, lack certain enzymes to process alcohol, leading them to have a flushed face upon consuming alcohol.

However, not everybody will experience a red face when drinking, and not everybody that does is an alcoholic. 

What causes drinker’s noses?

So-called “drinker’s nose” is a common way to describe what is known as rhinophyma. Rhinophyma is an extreme side effect of rosacea. Rosacea is a skin condition that is characterized by red cheeks or red patches on the face along with visible blood vessels. 

Alcohol does not cause rhinophyma, but it can aggravate a rosacea flare-up. Rosacea flare-ups could contribute to continued growth of a bulbous nose.

What is a drinker's nose?

A “drinker’s nose” is actually a condition called rhinophyma, a side effect of rosacea. Usually, rhinophyma involves reddening of the nose and a noticeably bulbous nose, which means that the nose becomes enlarged, more pronounced, and rounder. 

In extreme cases, the nose can become quite disfigured and make breathing difficult. 

Can alcohol damage your nose?

There is a misconception that being an alcoholic will cause you to form a bulbous and red nose. That nose, sometimes called “drinker’s nose” or “alcohol nose” is actually known as rhinophyma, a side effect of rosacea. 

Alcohol can aggravate rosacea flare-ups, thus potentially making rhinophyma more severe. 

Can I force my loved one into rehab for their addiction? 

After 10 years of working in the field of addiction treatment I have seen and learned a lot. Every day I receive phone calls from all types of people including many who have a loved one who is spiraling out of control, caught in the cycle of an addiction. An addiction to alcohol, prescription medications, heroin, methamphetamines and other drugs including marijuana. Although now legal in CA and some other states marijuana these days is stronger than ever and the number of reported cases where an individual is delusional, paranoid and hallucinating is skyrocketing. Most people minimize marijuana but let me tell you, the weed these days is no joke. At the end of the day, the substance isn’t really the most important factor. If an individual is using any type of substance and causing damage to their bodies, their families, their work life, the bottom line is that they need professional help. But what do you do if you try talking to this person and desperately try to beg and plead with them to get help but they just wont?

The simple truth is that your loved one with the addiction is unlikely to change or go into rehab until they feel some serious pain from their own consequences.

Addicts and any of us for that matter usually don’t want to change until they are faced with the harsh reality that their behavior and choices are beginning to cause the loss of  any or all of the relationships, income, possessions, their job, food and any other items of value in their life. Most often times the loved ones in their lives can see clearly what is happening and take on all the negative emotions and consequences that the addict should be dealing with themselves.

The only way an addiction treatment center can help someone change is if an individual truly wants to change. They don’t always need to be fully excited about going into treatment. I mean who really dreams about going to rehab but you can help a loved one find their willingness to change and accept help for their drug and alcohol addiction. When a loved one rescues their addict out of the consequences of their addiction the addict really hasn’t felt the full magnitude of their own choices and behavior. You see an addict has an impaired brain and their brain and ability to make good decisions has been damaged. The pre-frontal cortex, the part of our brain that provides us with the ability to have good judgement is being damaged. When this is impaired humans lose the ability to clearly understand how their addiction is not only ruining their lives but also greatly affecting their loved ones. So, where most people can see that getting a DUI and getting arrested will cost substantial time and money and hardship which will likely cause them to make a different choice the next time they are faced with choosing to drink and drive or call an Uber the next time, the addict may minimize the incident if mom or dad is taking out loans to bail their son out of jail and pay for an attorney to help him reduce the penalties associated with the DUI. Consequences and clear boundaries are what make all the difference in the world when it comes to an addict finding their willingness to receive help.

For about the last year I have received a phone call every few months from the same woman with a son who is in his 40’s. She calls frantically looking for help for her son usually after something bad has just happened. She is often exhausted and overwhelmed and has been begging her son to go to a treatment center for help.  He has now been charged with 4 DUI’s and is facing prison and she is beside herself with worry and fear. She has spent a great deal of energy and money hiring attorneys to try and help him out of his situation including calling many different treatment centers to try and get him into a facility. Yet her son has never called us once to do the over the phone assessment we need to do. The willingness to even talk to a counselor about how he can begin to change is not there. It looks like prison is the likely path for him. The best thing she can do is seek support and help for herself because the worry is literally killing her. This is so so sad because she is suffering so much but she could learn how to step back and focus on taking care of herself instead of putting so much energy into someone who is unwilling to change. This would likely help her son wake up and call us or another treatment center and ask for help. She could simply hand him the number and say I hope you get help and leave the number with him. He is capable of dialing the number. We will answer and all he has to do is say I need help. Some people just won’t ever seek help but that doesn’t mean that 2 people or a whole family have to suffer because 1 person is unwilling to change. Many years ago when I was caught In the codependency cycle myself and my own life was sinking because I was so focused on my significant other who had a raging alcohol addiction that I thought I could change, someone helped me by shining a light on my situation and gave me this analogy. They said, “He’s the Titanic and you are holding on to a sinking ship and he is taking you down with him. You can’t control it. “ At that moment, it clicked for me because at that time I was completely exhausted, emotionally, physically, my work was suffering, my health was suffering and I was completely obsessed to the point of totally neglecting myself in every way. I was going down too and I had to stop or I was going to end up worse off than he was. My happiness was my own responsibility but I was giving all my power away to someone else and not taking responsibility for my own life.

Addicts will take out everyone and everything in their path as long as they are allowed to. So here is where things can change…..

What about having an intervention? Will this help someone into recovery?

Many times per week I also receive phone calls from people who call up saying, “I have a son and our family is going to have an intervention tomorrow, we want to know if you have a bed in your facility?” This is where I want to say “WAIT! STOP RIGHT THERE, Is there a professional leading the intervention?"

Addiction is a highly complicated brain disorder that causes the brain of an addict to become hijacked. Which in turn causes the individual with the addiction to lie, cheat, steal and focus solely on one thing, getting more of their drug of choice and to stop at nothing until they do. Dealing with an addict requires highly skilled professionals who know what the hell they are doing. It requires a great deal of education and understanding. An intervention done by the family without a professional usually ends in a worse disaster. If you are reading this and considering doing your own intervention….. PLEASE do not do it. Stop and get some professional guidance. What is most likely to happen is a huge family argument and lots of emotions being spilled out all over the place, threats, physical fights and in the end? The addict runs off faster and harder to their first love, their drug of choice to numb the pain and sink deeper into their addiction and isolate themselves from their loved ones ever more than before. Basically a home made intervention done with inexperienced individuals will almost always cause a greater disaster than where you began. This will push your addict deeper into their addiction.

What a trained interventionist provides is a great deal of education and leadership on how to most effectively change the direction of the entire family dynamics and to help the loved ones learn what is enabling the addiction to continue and how to set proper boundaries with the addict . An interventionist will educate and walk you through the process and be there for you every step of the way. An interventionist also provides an emotionally detached person who cannot be manipulated by the addict when it comes times for the actual intervention. They are your quarterback. Don’t do it alone.

When 3 or 4 people who are close to the addict all get on the same page and simultaneously begin to get clear on what is helping and what is harming and start to say no I will no longer help you until you get some help for your addiction, then the addict loses the power to be able to manipulate their loved ones and the addict will begin to become more concerned with human survival than scoring more heroin or running off to the liquor store.

When you let a loved one move into your house and provide them food and money to keep their cell phone working, insurance covered, car payment covered, you are enabling their addiction to survive and thrive. This is harming them. It is not helping them at all.

Most people do not by any means intentionally try to bring harm to their loved one. They usually are providing for their addicts basic human needs while worrying themselves sick, secretly hoping they can control or coerce their loved one into getting help.

All while begging, pleading, criticizing, arguing and telling their loved one how much they need to get help and how hard all of this is and how they are spending all their money on trying to help them. Trying to guilt and shame them into getting help almost never works.

So how do you help a loved one find their willingness to seek treatment for their addiction? Clear boundaries and follow through works almost every time

Here is a simple statement that you can use for guidance.

I love you and it’s become clear that I cannot help you get past this addiction. You need help from experts who know about your illness. I can no longer provide any help to you financially, emotionally or in any way until you are willing to seek help for your addiction. I am not willing to help support you financially and/or emotionally until you decide to seek help. Until then I will no longer provide any help financially and/ or emotionally and I will no longer allow you to live in my home, buy you food, pay for anything at all for you because it is not helping you and the stress is causing harm to me.

Now, the most important part of speaking these type of words is making 100% sure that you can and will follow through on what you speak. NEVER set a boundary and then allow anyone and especially the person who is addicted to violate the boundary. If you speak it and then don’t follow through you render yourself powerless and the addiction will gain more power over you and your loved one.

Most loved ones need help and support to actually be able to do this. It’s not easy for a parent to actually cut off any type of support and contact with their adult child who is actively destroying their life. It is natural for us all to attach to those we love and it can be excruciatingly difficult to have your adult kid begging for food or money. Excruciatingly painful to kick them out of the house and know that they are living outside in harsh conditions and not feel extreme anxiety and worried about them. These emotions are difficult and you need support from qualified people to get through this. However if you provide your loved one with the choice to either choose help or choose addiction then the choice has become theirs. It is necessary and healthy to give your loved one a choice. Choose to become healthy or choose to stay in addiction. By stepping out of the chaos and taking care of yourself by seeking support and guidance through this extremely complicated time you are helping your loved one find the survival skills within them to fight for their own life. Addiction is no joke and it takes lives every day. The drugs these days are harder and stronger than ever and if you want to help your loved one you need to seek help and put on your own oxygen mask for yourself first. Hand the consequences back to your loved one and let them deal with their life themselves. By helping them pay their bills, provide them food, provide them shelter, hire them an attorney to minimize consequences you are helping them avoid the very crisis they need to wake up and accept help.

Do You Have A Drinking Problem? Alcohol Abuse Questionnaire

Pathways -- Do You Have A Drinking Problem -- 08-23-16Do You Have A Drinking Problem?

Answering these 20 questions can give you and indication if your drinking habits are safe, at risk for a drinking problem, or harmful. This quiz was developed by the Office of Health Care Programs, Johns Hopkins University Hospital. If you regularly consume alcoholic beverages, this quiz can give you an idea of how your drinking put you into harmful patterns and indicate whether or not you have a drinking problem.

When answering, use the last 12 months as your frame of reference. Be honest with yourself because you can only benefit if your answers are accurate.  A drinking problem can lead to more serious problems with alcohol like alcohol dependence and addiction (alcoholism).

  1. Do you lose time from work from drinking?
  2. Is drinking making your home life unhappy?
  3. Do you drink because you are shy with other people?
  4. Is drinking affecting your reputation?
  5. Have you felt remorse after drinking?
  6. Have you had financial difficulties as a result of drinking?
  7. Do you turn to inferior companions and environments when drinking?
  8. Does your drinking make you careless of your family’s welfare?
  9. Has your ambition decreased since drinking?
  10. Do you crave a drink at a definite time each day?
  11. Do you want to drink the next morning?
  12. Does drinking cause you to have difficulty sleeping?
  13. Has your efficiency decreased since drinking?
  14. Is drinking jeopardizing your job or business?
  15. Do you drink to escape from worries or troubles?
  16. Do you drink alone?
  17. Have you ever had a loss of memory as a result of drinking?
  18. Has your physician ever treated you for drinking?
  19. Do you drink to build up your self-confidence?
  20. Have you ever been to a hospital or institution because of your drinking?

According to the Office of Health Care Programs, Johns Hopkins University Hospital if you answered as few as 3 of these answers with a Yes there is an indication that you have a drinking problem and your drinking patterns are harmful and considered alcohol dependent or alcoholic. If this is the case for you, then you should seriously consider seeking an evaluation by a healthcare provider or someone in the substance abuse field to discuss your drinking problem.

Alcohol Dependence Syndrome And Other Alcohol-Related Problems

Alcohol Dependence SyndromeAlcohol dependence syndrome is mental or physical dependence on drinking. Alcohol problems affect more than 16.3 million adults across the nation. People who can recognize the symptoms of alcohol dependence syndrome and similar issues can potentially save themselves and their family members from physical, mental, and social health problems. They may also be able to curtail the situation before a loved one becomes debilitated by alcohol use.

There are a variety of disorders associated with the excessive use of alcohol. Since the terms are so often misused, there’s quite a bit of confusion about the differences between them. Many people mistake alcohol abuse for alcohol dependency or alcoholism. Abuse is defined as drinking too much and/or too often. Dependency is the inability to quit. Both conditions are serious, but not being able to stop poses a bigger issue and a greater risk to the drinker.

Symptoms Of Alcohol Dependence Syndrome

Before it can be fixed, alcoholism must be noticed. There are several things to look for if you suspect someone is alcohol dependent:

  1. Blood Alcohol Level - Developing a pattern to maintain one’s blood alcohol level. People who are dependent on alcohol will start to drink at the same time every day. The point is to remain intoxicated as much as possible and avoid any symptoms of withdrawal.
  1. Prioritizing Alcohol - For addicts, the consumption of alcohol will take precedence over their wellbeing. No matter what condition their bodies or lives are in, drinking will be more important.
  1. Increased Tolerance - The more someone consumes alcohol, the higher the resistance to the effects. A noticeable increase in the amount someone is drinking could be cause for concern.
  1. Signs of Withdrawal - When the concentration of alcohol in the blood lowers, it can trigger some unpleasant side effects. Tremors, nausea, sweating, itching, muscle cramps, hallucinations, and even seizures can occur. Two to three days after cessation, the individual can experience even more severe symptoms from delirium tremens.
  1. Drinking at Strange Hours - Consuming alcohol at random times to stop or prevent withdrawal symptoms is called relief drinking. Some people will wake up in the middle of the night to drink or start with alcohol first thing in the morning.

The Consequences Of Alcohol Dependency

Routine and excessive consumption of alcohol wreaks havoc on the body. The longer that someone is dependent on alcohol, the worse the side effects become. Some of the results are irreversible and even potentially deadly.

Physical Repercussions

Alcohol addicts suffer from neurological, gastrointestinal, liver, cardiac, and skin conditions, among others. One of the most prominent risks is brain damage. The deterioration is both structural and functional, and it can lead to chemical imbalances and cognitive issues. Alcohol also increases the risk of several types of cancer—mouth, throat, and liver cancer are the most common, but it has also been linked to breast cancer.

Someone dependent on alcohol will likely have a damaged heart too. Hypoglycemia, myopathy, arrhythmias, and even cardiac failure can occur. These problems become more dangerous in older individuals, especially if they combine other poor habits such as smoking.

Mental Health Effects

Alcohol works as a depressant and can strongly alter chemistry in the brain. People who become dependent are at risk for a variety of mental health issues. Depression and anxiety are the most common, but mania, hallucinosis, and “blackouts” are recognized as well. There’s a high prevalence of alcohol use found in those who commit suicide as well, presenting a 7% lifetime risk for the addict.

Social Consequences

The most prominent social problem with alcohol dependence is traffic accidents; sufferers are often unable to access when they should and shouldn’t drive. People who drive under the influence are far more likely to wreck, and many accidents involve fatalities. Even without an accident, a DUI or DWI can affect work and social interactions. Other incidents can happen at home. Dependency on alcohol boosts the chances of violence, child abuse, homicide, and general crime.

Alcohol abuse damages personal relationships as well. Divorce can be a result of alcohol addiction, both from the psychological changes that occur and poor decisions like infidelity. It’s not uncommon for people to lose friends in direct relation to their behavior.

Occupational Dangers

High-stress jobs like this are more likely to lead to alcohol abuse. With alcohol dependency syndrome, the individual’s performance can suffer greatly. He or she may be unable to focus because of withdrawal symptoms or simply because of the “urge” to go home and drink. Alcohol dependence syndrome should be treated as early as possible to increase the likelihood of long-term success.