Alcohol is often characterized by withdrawal symptoms, erratic behavior, and a withdrawal from responsibilities and family. However, there are other signs of alcoholism that can help you or a loved one identify a problem with alcohol. In this article, you will learn all about common warning signs of alcoholism.
Signs of Alcoholism
Alcohol use often starts casually, but can easily become an endless cycle leading to alcoholism. As people consume alcohol for an extended period of time, or drink in binges, their body becomes dependent on the alcohol. This leads them to need to drink to function normally.
As they continue to drink, their dependence grows until they have an inability to stop. Even short term alcohol users can develop a dependence. However, heavy drinkers are far more likely to develop into alcoholics.
Some signs you may have a problem with alcohol include the following:
- Friends and family suggesting you should cut back drinking or have a problem
- Alcohol having a negative impact on your work, school, or other responsibilities
- Needing alcohol to get through the day or function normally
These signs of alcoholism are often indicators of a problem. Some other warning signs of alcoholism include:
- Drinking alone, separating oneself from family and friends; isolating yourself
- Needing to drink to function properly or feel normal
- Erratic mood swings and behavior, increased depression or irritability
- Frequent binges leading to blackouts or loss of consciousness
- Inability to meet responsibilities or prioritizing drinking over other needs
- Ditching old friends to hang out with new people just to drink
If any of these signs resonate or apply to you, then you are likely suffering from an AUD or alcohol use disorder. We are here to help. For more information beyond this article, please contact us today.
Understanding the Signs of Alcoholism and Defining the Problem
If you ever wonder if you have a problem with alcohol, but are unable to determine otherwise, then some diagnostic tools and questionnaires may be beneficial to you.
The CAGE questionnaire was developed to help identify problem alcohol use and AUD’s. The guidelines of the questionnaire suggest seeking professional help if you answer yes to two or more of these:
- Have you ever felt you needed to cut down on your drinking?
- Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
- Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?
- Have you ever felt you needed a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover?
Another tool that can be utilized is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM. It is advised to be used under the guidance of a medical professional. However, some simple questions from the manual can help identify an issue with alcohol.
The following factors in the DSM are often utilized. They ask if the following things apply to you or a loved one in the past year.
- Legal trouble due to alcohol use such as DUI or public intoxication
- Increased risk of harm due to alcohol such as drunk driving or operating machinery while intoxicated
- Compulsive cravings or desires for more alcohol
- Shaking, night sweats, insomnia, or other withdrawal symptoms
- Inability to control drinking, or drinking more than intended
- Inability to stop drinking despite negative consequences like health concerns, anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues
Abusing Alcohol Explained
After taking self examinations, and reading about alcohol, many people become frustrated. Others try to rationalize their drinking with statements like “everyone else drinks too”, or “it’s not that bad”.
Alcohol is legal after all. It is everywhere; in restaurants, stores, even gas stations. Unfortunately, the statistics support that far more people struggle with alcohol addiction and abuse than people understand.
Studies done yearly by The National Institutes of Health confirm this, as do other studies by governmental organizations. Millions of people each year struggle with an alcohol use disorder. Unfortunately, less than 10% of people who struggle with alcohol and addiction receive treatment.
If you are unable to stop or control your drinking, you are not alone. What begins as casual drinking can easily develop into alcoholism. People drink because they like the effects produced by alcohol. As they continue drinking, they develop a tolerance.
A tolerance means that you have to drink more to achieve the same effects. This causes people to drink more to experience the euphoric intoxication of alcohol. This causes dependence. As tolerance and dependence grows, alcoholism is the result.
The Grips of Alcoholism
Once someone becomes tolerant of alcohol and a dependency is formed, it can be nearly impossible to stop. They wake up with the shakes and need to drink just to function. They experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop drinking. They are plagued with overwhelming cravings to drink more alcohol.
These factors can cause even the most willful to continue drinking. Then come the negative consequences. Failure at work, broken relationships, and health concerns come over time. Alcoholism is such a difficult disease because it ruins the lives of those it afflicts, as well as their families. It causes irritability and instability in most.
Quitting alcohol after extended use is also dangerous. The effects of alcohol withdrawal symptoms include delirium tremens, a severe condition that causes shaking and hallucinations. Alcohol withdrawal can be deadly and should always be treated in a medical setting.
Thankfully, treatment options are becoming more innovative and successful. Those who enter a treatment program and find a life of recovery usually become stronger from it. They are able to stop using alcohol and overcome the issues that contributed to their addiction.
It should be clear to all reading this that millions suffer from alcoholism. If any of the tests or diagnostic tools felt relatable to you or a loved one, then there is likely a need to seek help. Extended alcohol use or alcoholism has a laundry list of negative health effects and consequences.
A medical detox program followed by treatment is one of the most effective methods of overcoming the grips of alcohol. A medical detox helps manage withdrawal symptoms while ensuring the safety of the individual. Therapy and treatment following detox helps identify thought and behavior patterns that lead to alcohol use. An extended program of recovery in a 12-step support group or program can also be beneficial following treatment.
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol, we are here to help. Our comprehensive treatment programs help tackle the underlying issues that lead to alcoholism, while ensuring a safe and comfortable environment. For more information, call us today.