Rum Addiction

Authored by Pin Ng

Edited by Alexander Bentley

Reviewed by Philippa Gold

Rum Addiction


Rum addiction occurs when you become physically and psychologically addicted to rum, an alcoholic beverage distilled from sugar. The type of sugar used in the distilling process comes from cane sugar, syrup, or molasses so that the prominent flavor is similar to a sweet, toasted sugar that tastes great in mixed cocktails like daiquiris or straight up with a splash of water or a couple ice cubes.


Rum is so addictive because of its high alcohol by volume (ABV) content. ABV is a worldwide measurement to assess an alcoholic beverage’s strength. The higher the ABV, the more alcohol it contains. Rum typically has 40% ABV but there are some “overproof” kinds that are distilled to have between 57% and 75% ABV, which puts them over 100 proof.


Alcoholism is the most serious form of problem drinking and describes a strong, often uncontrollable, desire to drink. Sufferers of alcoholism will often place drinking above all other obligations, including work and family, and may build up a physical tolerance or experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop.

How do you Become Addicted to Rum and Alcohol?


Rum is one of the most abused substances around the world. For many people, it has become a part of their daily lives and is used to relax and unwind from a stressful day at work. On the weekend when people get together with friends and family members, they will bring along a couple liters of rum to help them loosen up and have a good time.


Bringing alcohol to birthday parties, barbeques, beach parties, and holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving has become normalized by society. If you don’t drink most people will look at you like there’s something wrong with you. Because of the fact that rum has a very high proof compared to other types of alcohol, people who drink rum are able to build up their tolerance for it and require it in higher amounts in order to feel buzzed.


Many people also resort to rum addiction because they’re trying to escape the problems in their lives. There are many motives for someone to start drinking, including being more social, to feel powerful, to escape their personal problems, to get drunk, because they enjoy it, or as part of a ritual.


Whatever the reason, rum addicts who drink heavily, often don’t realize when their drinking crosses over from being a social habit to a more serious rum addiction.

Statistics of Rum Addiction


Excessive consumption of rum can lead to serious health problems, chronic diseases, and even death. According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 25% of people 18 years and older in the United States alone had engaged in binge drinking and heavy alcohol use in the past month11.J. Spencer, Rum Maniacs, University of Chicago Press.; Retrieved September 19, 2022, from


According to the World Health Organization, the consumption of alcohol such as rum contributes to 3 million deaths each year globally. It also leads many more people to develop physical disabilities and deteriorating health. The harmful use of alcohol is responsible for over 5% of the global burden of disease.


There is an emerging trend in binge drinking called high-intensity drinking where people consume rum at two or more times the recommended level.


High-intensity drinkers who consume two times the recommended amount of rum are 70 times more likely to end up in the emergency department while drinkers who consume three times or more the recommended amount are 93 times as likely to require medical assistance.

How Much Rum is Too Much?


A standard serving is 1.5 ounces of 80-proof rum which equals approximately 40% ABV.


Excessive drinking is binge drinking, heavy drinking, drinking by pregnant women, or those under the legal age.


Binge drinking is defined as:

  • Consuming 4 or more drinks as a woman
  • Consuming 5 or more drinks as a man

Heavy drinking is classed as:

  • 8 + drinks per week for women
  • 15+ drinks per week for men

Effects of Rum Addiction and Alcohol Abuse

Rum addiction can have both short-term and long-term health risks and excessive rum use has immediate effects that can increase the drinker’s risk of certain health conditions


Risks of Binge Drinking:


  • Serious injuries like vehicle crashes, falling, drowning, and burns
  • Violence – homicide, suicide, or sexual assault
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Risky sexual behaviors such as unprotected sex or having sex with multiple partners. This can result in the spread of STIs, unwanted pregnancy, or even HIV
  • Miscarriage, stillbirth, or fetal alcohol syndrome


Excessive rum use over an extended period of time can lead to more chronic diseases and problems such as:


  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Liver disease
  • Digestive issues
  • Mouth, throat, and liver cancer
  • Weakened immune system
  • Dementia
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Social problems, family problems, and unemployment

Rum Addiction Treatment

Rum Addiction Treatment


Rum is both physically and psychologically addictive. Treatment for rum addiction includes a lengthy detox period as part of the first step. Detox treatment needs to happen under the care of a licensed medical professional to ensure that someone is around to help the addict cope with symptoms of withdrawal.


It’s also extremely important for the rum addict to receive psychological support from family and friends in order to help prevent relapse. Behavior modification programs are also available as both inpatient and outpatient facilities to help those with rum addictions maintain lifelong freedom from their addiction to rum and other substances.


The road to recovery doesn’t stop here. After exiting a rehabilitation program, it’s important for the addict to find continued support to help them maintain their sobriety.


Getting sober is a lifetime commitment that requires self-compassion and patience. Some of the more common services, called Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) offer 12-step programs where you are assigned a mentor in addition to regular visits with a therapist or counselor.

Rum Addiction Summary


While many people can drink a moderate amount of rum with zero consequences, for others that one drink of rum can lead to serious consequences. Rum addiction comes down to the negative effects of addiction on a person’s life.


Those who have issues at work, home, or financially because of their relationship with rum probably have a drinking problem that needs to be treated. Patterns of unhealthy drinking habits can vary in severity. Prolonged usage can result in mental issues, alcohol dependency, and alcoholism.


Assessing an addiction to rum can be difficult, but if diagnosed early, some of the effects of this addiction can be reversed. If you or someone you know has a rum addiction, contact your local physician or mental health provider.


Previous: Is Alcohol Addiction Genetic?

Next: Definition of an Alcoholic

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    1.J. Spencer, Rum Maniacs, University of Chicago Press.; Retrieved September 19, 2022, from
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