Although alcohol is the most commonly used drug on the planet, the pain and anguish associated with an alcohol addiction can be just as debilitating as those related to hard drugs. Because of the prevalence of drinking culture and alcohol, alcohol addiction symptoms are often overlooked or dismissed. Early detection of the signs of alcohol addiction, however, may mean the distinction between life and death.
Drinking problems are not determined solely by how much or how often a person drinks. It all comes down to the consequences of alcoholism in a person’s life. People who have problems at work, with their homes, with their economy, or with their emotions as a result of their alcohol use may have a drinking problem.
An alcohol use disorder is a pattern of inappropriate or harmful drinking habits that can vary in severity. It may affect the brain over time, contributing to compulsive alcohol usage and dependence, also known as alcoholism.
Excessive alcohol use is responsible for 88,000 deaths in the United States every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Students in college are also more vulnerable to abusing alcohol. According to the National Institute on Substance Abuse and Alcoholism, 58 percent of college students aged 18 to 33 consumed alcohol in the previous month, with 37.9% reporting binge drinking. It’s easier to distinguish between normal drinking habits and what constitutes an issue because about 60% of adults above the age of 18 don’t drink at all or drink less than one drink each week.
People who abuse alcohol become skilled at hiding it. There are many reasons for this: they may want to keep their addiction secret from their family members so they don’t panic, or they may want to keep their addiction hidden from their employer, so they don’t lose their work.
All of this pretense will create its own strain. An addict can go to great lengths to conceal their addiction, such as driving long distances to buy alcohol in an unnoticed location or hiding alcohol in various places around the house or workplace. To mask how much alcohol they’re drinking, they can use a hip flask, hide alcohol in soft drink cans, or heavily mix spirits into soft drinks.
The Signs of Abusing Alcohol
Alcohol, unlike other substances, does not need any special equipment or paraphernalia to make or consume it. There are a number of warning signs that can be used to spot possible alcohol abuse. Many signals are easily recognized, but others may be more difficult to spot. The severity of an individual’s alcohol addiction can also influence the warning signs they show. Some people, for instance, attempt to hide their alcoholism by drinking alone and trying to isolate themselves from others. This makes it difficult for family or friends to step in to support their loved ones.
As a result, the symptoms of alcohol dependence are directly linked to the drinker’s behavior:
- A deep urge to consume alcohol. Although moderate or casual drinkers will be able to have fun without alcohol, a habitual drinker will feel obligated to include alcohol in any encounter. Regular alcohol consumption varies from moderate consumption. It usually has a stronger emotional bond. An average drinker might enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, while a regular drinker drinks to feel good generally. When you consume more alcohol, you are becoming more dependent on it and are at a likelihood of developing abuse of alcohol. If anyone can’t go a day without drinking – whether to celebrate great times or to make hard times bearable – it’s an indication they’re into alcohol abuse.
- Being self-conscious about alcohol. Moderate and casual drinkers don’t want to conceal the fact that they consume alcohol, whether it’s in public or in private. A problem drinker, on the other hand, who is aware that he or she is consuming alcohol and is unable or unable to quit, will continue to conceal their drinking. They may feel bad about the drinking habits, but they are unable to quit due to the power of their addiction. They drink again to deal with their guilt and vulnerability.
- Tolerance becomes improved. Tolerance occurs when a constant quantity of alcohol generates a lower impact after repeated intake or when the levels of alcohol are needed to produce the same effect. Because of this decreased exposure to the physical effects of alcohol, higher amounts of alcohol must be ingested to produce the same effects as before tolerance was developed. Tolerance to the effects of alcohol has a number of impacts on drinking activity and consequences. Moderate and casual drinkers don’t need all that alcohol to feel the effects, but problem drinkers become so used to it that they need to consume large quantities to feel inebriated. Someone who has to drink often or in large amounts just to get a good high is a strong sign that they consume alcohol excessively.
- Inability to avoid drinking. Most people can tell whether they’ve had too much to drink. Someone with an alcohol problem, on the other hand, could refuse to stop drinking – whether temporarily or permanently – claiming that they don’t have a problem with drinking or acting insulted and outraged that their control is being challenged. And some alcoholics will go long stretches without drinking, making it more challenging to speak to them about their drinking issue.
This is particularly true when an individual’s drinking begins to have an effect on their other aspects of life. Even if their professional and academic performance suffers, if they lack interest in sports or interests, or if their relationships suffer as a result of their excessive alcohol consumption, they refuse or are unable to avoid drinking in order to halt the downward spiral. This is one of the apparent symptoms of abusing alcohol.
- Symptoms of withdrawal. The majority of people will stop drinking or go without alcohol without experiencing any negative consequences. Still, an alcoholic will experience a variety of dangerous withdrawal symptoms if their supply is cut off: anxiety, tremors, depression, irritation and irritability, inability to sleep, nausea, headache, elevated heart rate, and so on. Symptoms like these are telltale signs that a person is addicted to alcohol. There may even be severe symptoms such as extreme perplexity, agitation to the extreme, high temperature, convulsions, tactile hallucinations (including sensations such as scratching, burning, or numbness that isn’t actually present), auditory hallucinations, or hearing sounds that don’t occur, or visual hallucinations, or seeing something that is not there, are a form of hallucination.
These indicators of alcohol abuse and alcoholism indicate that harm is being done to one’s body, relationships, mind, legal circumstances, or life generally. Ignoring signs of alcohol abuse will pave the way for addiction to take root. When a person loses control of their alcohol, it can lead to sickness, imprisonment, family disintegration, or death. Drinking a lot of alcohol for a long time has a harmful effect on many of the body’s organs and can lead to organ damage. The nervous system and the brain, as well as the liver, heart, and pancreas, have all been found to be harmed by long-term alcohol abuse.
Heavy drinking can raise cholesterol levels and blood pressure, which are both significant risk factors for heart attacks and strokes.
Long-term alcohol dependence can impair your immune system, making you more prone to infections. It may also weaken the bones, increasing your chances of cracking or splitting them.
Psychologically, excessive alcohol consumption, even though not chronic, can result in alcohol–induced psychiatric syndromes such as alcohol–induced bipolar disorder, alcohol–induced depressive disorder, alcohol–induced psychotic disorder, and alcohol–induced sleep disorder, among others.
Seeking Help For The Abuse of Alcohol
In 2012, almost a quarter of all adults in the United States registered binge drinking in the previous month to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Although this is risky – five drinks in a row for men, four drinks in a row for women – it is indicative of a society that does not fully understand the risks of flirting with someone who has an alcohol problem.
And if things get grim, therapy will help you get back on track. Bringing your loved one to admit he or she has a problem with alcohol, as with other diseases of addiction, is the first move. Support is available via therapy and 12-Step rehabilitation services until he discovers his drinking is out of control. An intervention may be necessary to help a loved one understand the harm he is causing to himself and others. A professional interventionist will assist you and your family in planning an effective intervention and locating care for your addicted family member. Your loved one will learn to live a life free of alcohol’s influence through person and community counseling, family therapy, and other therapeutic recovery options.
That’s why we’re here to answer your questions about the abuse of alcohol and provide you with the tools you need to get support if you have a problem. Our dual diagnosis recovery services will help you conquer your alcohol problem and show you how to stay sober for the rest of your life. Please contact us right away to begin the recovery process.
Ben Lesser is one of the most sought-after experts in health, fitness and medicine. His articles impress with unique research work as well as field-tested skills. We are honored to have Ben writing exclusively for Dualdiagnosis.org.