Signs of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse

Coming to terms with the fact that you or someone you love may have an alcohol problem can be a painful and difficult process. While many people can identify when they are abusing alcohol (e.g. hangovers, issues at work, problems with a loved one as a result of their drinking), they may not necessarily recognize that they are alcoholics. If you or your loved ones are concerned about your drinking, it may be time to ask yourself some important questions as to whether you are exhibiting signs of alcoholism.

While there are numerous signs that can indicate that someone may be abusing alcohol, it is important to remember that not everyone everyone exhibits the same patterns. Alcohol affects people differently. What may be a negative symptom for one person may not necessarily be the same for another. In determining whether you or someone you care for may have a problem, look for the follows signs:

Signs of Alcohol Abuse

  • The ability to consume a good deal of alcohol without getting intoxicated
  • A preoccupation with drinking and alcohol
  • Experiencing blackouts or memory lapses
  • The use of alcohol to alter one’s mood, i.e., to “calm the nerves”
  • Binge drinking: episodic, gross over indulgence
  • Hiding alcohol or sneaking drinks
  • Drinking before events or social gatherings
  • Job losses or complaints by employers regarding one’s drinking
  • Relationship or marital problems as a result of too much drinking
  • Friends, relatives or co-workers complain about problem drinking incidents
  • Alcohol related arrests: public intoxication, DUI, lewd behavior, altercations
  • Behavioral changes while intoxicated: anger, sexual promiscuity, rash acts
  • Feeling remorseful or ashamed of behavior after drinking
  • Losing friendships or social rejection as a result of one’s drinking
  • Drinking before noon
  • A decline in self-care or hygiene
  • Family history of alcohol abuse or alcoholism
  • Frequent intoxication: drinking two or more days a week
  • Physical harm as a result of drinking (accidents or fights)
  • Drinking alone

If you suspect you or a loved may be abusing alcohol or is showing any signs of alcoholism, it’s important to consult with a medical professional. Your doctor or health care provider can help determine if a drinking habit is problematic and can recommend a treatment plan or course of action.

Alcoholism and Signs of Alcoholism

The primary distinction between the alcohol abuser and the alcoholic is a physical dependency on alcohol. Alcoholics meet all of the same criteria for alcohol abuse but have also developed a physical addiction to alcohol. Most dependency experts believe that alcohol abusers maintain the ability to set limits on their drinking habits while alcoholics lose this ability to control their drinking problem. The most common signs of alcoholism are as follows:

    • Alcohol tolerance: it increasingly takes more alcohol to feel its effects
    • Attempts at quitting are met with failure
    • Alcohol consumption is required to avoid withdrawal symptoms
      (In serious cases, withdrawal can include seizures, delirium or hallucinations)
    • Loss of control (can not control the amount of alcohol consumed at any give time)

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

For anyone who displays signs of alcoholism or alcohol dependence, it’s important that a medical doctor be seen prior to quitting alcohol. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be life threatening.

  • Anxiety and/or irritability
  • Depression or feelings of apathy
  • Upset stomach or vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Headache or body fatigue
  • Disorientation

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be life threatening. Outside help is usually recommended. A professionally managed treatment program such as a detox or rehab center may be recommended.


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