Signs of Alcoholism & How To Get Help
Alcoholism affects millions of Americans every year. Despite the drinking age of 21, many adults and teenagers have started drinking at a younger age, leading to alcohol addiction starting much earlier in life. Not only can this disrupt life for young people, but it can also cause problems with healthy physical and mental development. Regardless of your age, no one is completely immune to alcohol addiction.
However, recognizing the signs of alcohol abuse is not always easy. Many alcoholics and binge drinkers hide their addictions and try to maintain a regular lifestyle. As a result, parents, children, friends, and loved ones may struggle to see the signs of alcohol addiction before it has become a driving force in the affected person’s life.
So, in today’s guide, we will take a closer look at the most common signs of alcohol abuse. Additionally, we will provide tips on how you or someone you love can get help. If you are currently struggling with alcohol addiction, feel free to reach out to the experts at Prosperity Haven as soon as possible.
Early Signs Of Alcoholism
Alcoholism usually starts off innocently enough. Someone may begin having one or two drinks with dinner. However, due to stress or even issues like depression or anxiety, they might start using alcohol as a crutch. Many people prefer to feel “numb” and try to avoid life’s problems by drinking more alcohol, more often. If you think that you or someone you love may have fallen into this trap, here are some of the early signs of an alcoholic:
- Drinking more than two alcoholic drinks per day for men or more than one alcoholic drink per day for women
- Making excuses to drink on a regular basis, particularly earlier in the day
- Using alcohol as a way to fall asleep or destress at the end of the day
- Drinking alone or in secret
- Frequently suffering from hangovers
- Suddenly changing clothing, appearance, or social groups
- Experiencing short-term memory loss
- Showing signs of irritability or mood swings
- Using drinking as an excuse to avoid responsibilities at work or school
If you or someone you know is showing multiple signs from the list above, there is a good chance that there is alcohol abuse involved. Fortunately, medical professionals also have more scientific ways to identify alcohol abuse through questionnaires. The first method is known as CAGE and only involves 4 simple questions:
- Have you ever felt you should try to cut down on your drinking?
- Have you been bothered by others criticizing your drinking?
- Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?
- Have you ever had a drink when you first woke up to steady your nerves or get over a hangover?
If you answered “yes” to two or more questions, there is a much higher probability that you have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Additionally, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) uses the following questions to determine if someone has been abusing alcohol over the past year:
- Have you continued to drink even though it was making you depressed, anxious, or worsened another health problem?
- Have there been situations where you ended up drinking much more than you intended?
- Have you lost interest in other activities and hobbies since you started drinking?
- Have you experienced symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal?
- Have you felt a craving to consume alcohol?
- Have you gotten into situations while drinking that increased your chances of harming yourself or others?
- Have you been in trouble with the law due to alcohol-related problems?
While asking these questions can help you identify or confirm the signs of alcoholism, you should always defer to professionals to make an official diagnosis.
Signs Of A Functioning Alcoholic
As previously mentioned, many people try to maintain their everyday lives while also abusing alcohol. This is especially common among working adults, though it can affect people of almost any age. Here are a few key signs of a functioning alcoholic:
- Drinking large amounts of alcohol outside of school or work hours
- Hiding alcohol consumption from friends and family members
- Using alcohol or painkillers to reduce the symptoms of hangovers
- Dismissing or making jokes about the prospect of being an alcoholic
- Performing worse than usual at school or work
- Having relationship problems with spouses, friends, or family members
- Getting drunk without the intention to do so
Functioning alcoholism is often harder to identify because a “high-functioning alcoholic” will still be able to meet most of their basic responsibilities while abusing alcohol. This may include caring for children, attending classes at school, or showing up for work on time. However, as alcoholism worsens, the affected person may struggle to keep up with the facade, particularly when it comes to their relationships with others.
Physical Signs Of Alcoholism
Alcoholism is not just about addiction and behavioral changes. It can also have negative effects on the body. However, recognizing the physical signs of alcohol abuse can be even harder than recognizing the behavioral ones. In any case, here are some common physical signs of alcoholism:
- Shaking or tremors (particularly of the hands) when the person has not had a drink in a while
- Increasing physical tolerance of alcohol, requiring more alcohol to achieve inebriation
- Experiencing nausea
- Sweating when the person does not have access to alcohol
- Frequently feeling sick as a result of alcohol consumption
- Being diagnosed with high blood pressure (keep in mind that this sign can be associated with many other conditions as well)
Other Signs Of Alcohol Abuse
While all of the signs above can help you determine if you or someone you care about is struggling with alcoholism, they do not encompass all of the signs of alcohol abuse. In fact, the signs can vary from one person to another. For example, some people tend to be “energetic” drinkers who feel more confident and social when they drink.
Alternatively, many people retreat from socialization and become more depressed and melancholic when binge drinking. In either case, these people may be suffering from alcoholism. Consequently, it is important to know the signs of alcohol abuse, regardless of how the person behaves when drinking.
So, here are a few other signs of alcohol abuse that you should look for:
- Blacking out
- Partaking in risky behavior like unsafe sex or drunk driving
- Showing aggression, especially when confronted with the drinking problem
- Feeling depressed
- Becoming more reclusive and secretive
- Having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Showing an inability to cut down on drinking, even if the person wishes to cut back
- Partaking in more parties, clubbing, or events that encourage drinking
- Devoting significant time and money to drinking alcohol
As you can see, the signs of alcoholism can be wide-ranging. Additionally, even if you or someone you know experiences some of the signs outlined above, it does not guarantee that they are suffering from an addiction to alcohol. For this reason, you should always seek out the help of professionals to get help as soon as possible and fast-track the recovery process.
How To Get Help For An Alcohol Addition
Is your child, friend, coworker, parent, or spouse struggling with alcohol addiction? Are you looking for alcohol rehab options that target each patient’s specific needs? Finally, are you looking for a comprehensive alcohol rehab center that provides a wide range of effective treatment options? If so, feel free to contact the experts at Prosperity Haven to learn more.
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