Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism

Published on 1/31/11
Categorized in Alcohol Addiction
Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism

This article details the basics of alcoholism, describing the difference between alcohol abuse and addiction. Some of the early symptoms and signs of alcoholism are also discusssed.

Alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction are serious problems that have no known cause and are difficult to diagnose and treat. Genetics can play a part in alcohol addiction and the reasons people abuse alcohol, but the connection is still unclear and unpredictable and cannot be relied upon as a determining factor. There are other factors that may contribute to alcohol addiction and why people abuse alcohol, including having one or more parents that were or are alcoholics, social pressure, stress, depression and anxiety. Many people who abuse alcohol suffer from mental disorders (called dual diagnosis) and use alcohol to self-medicate, ultimately worsening the effects of depression, anxiety and other mental instabilities.

Family members and friends may have difficulty recognizing alcohol addiction in loved ones because social drinking is so common and accepted in our society.

Alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction affect all types and demographics: the young and old, rich and poor, the mentally well and the mentally unstable may all abuse alcohol under the right circumstances. It can be considered a problem when people abuse alcohol to the point where work, family life and quality of life are jeopardized. Alcohol addiction compels the individual to drink without knowing why or being cognizant of what he or she is doing. Family members and friends may have difficulty recognizing alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction in loved ones because social drinking is so common and accepted in our society, but there are some signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction that should be taken seriously if you suspect that someone in your life is suffering from the disease.

Alcohol Abuse vs. Alcohol Addiction

There should be a distinction made between when people abuse alcohol and when they suffer from alcohol addiction, and it should be noted that one often, but not always, leads to the other. It is often overlooked in our society when people abuse alcohol because social drinking is so widespread. For example, excessive drinking is the pastime of many young college students, so much so that it has become an epidemic. According to the Center for Disease Control, people who abuse alcohol maintain a pattern of excessive drinking that becomes damaging to their work and personal life, and one which causes them to shirk responsibilities or which puts them in dangerous situations, such as driving while drunk.

Alcohol addiction, or alcoholism, on the other hand is a diagnosable disease, which includes all the telltale signs of any addiction: the inability to stop even in spite of the threat of harm to person or property, the constant craving for more, physical pain and illness when deprived of the substance, and the building up of tolerance, thus requiring more and more of the substance to feel satiated. Those who abuse alcohol sometimes, but not always, go on to suffer from alcohol addiction, which is why the early signs of alcohol abuse should be closely monitored if suspected.

Early Signs of Alcohol Addiction

Alcoholism is a progressive, degenerative disease, meaning that it begins with early signs and symptoms and becomes gradually worse over time. People who abuse alcohol may show signs early on, including frequent heavy drinking, drinking and becoming involved in dangerous situations, such as drinking and driving, blacking out while drinking, undergoing marked change in behavior or personality when drinking, or becoming angry or violent while under the influence of alcohol.

Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction

When alcohol abuse develops into a pattern and begins to inhibit one's ability to function in daily life, alcohol addiction should be assumed. People who abuse alcohol and suffer from alcohol addiction may exhibit some or all of the following:

  • Excessive drinking
  • Increased tolerance for alcohol
  • Denial of a problem with alcohol
  • Drinking in the morning or day time
  • Drinking alone
  • Unexplained mood swings
  • Keeping alcohol in unlikely places, or hiding alcohol
  • Becoming irritable when alcohol is not available or suffering symptoms of withdrawal, like nausea, sweating or shaking
  • Getting into trouble at home or work because of alcohol
  • Feeling a compulsion to drink
  • Inability to stop drinking once drinking has begun

People who abuse alcohol or who suffer from an addiction should seek treatment as soon as possible, as alcoholism usually worsens the longer it continues.  For those thinking of entering treatment you can look for potential alcohol addiction facilities in the All Treatment rehab center directory.

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Sources:

http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/faqs.htm#12

http://alcoholism.about.com/od/about/a/symptoms.htm

http://parentingteens.about.com/od/bingedrinking/a/bingedrinking_b.htm

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