14 Signs of Alcohol Abuse and Warnings of Alcoholism


Are you or someone you know
at risk of impending Alcoholism? 


What is alcoholism and dependency?

Today, alcoholism is considered an addictive illness, which basically refers to compulsive behavior, a person’s inability to control his use of alcohol, to the point where his health, emotional and social life are greatly impaired.
signs-of-alcohol-abuse

We also need to understand the subtle difference between alcoholism (also called alcohol dependency) and alcohol abuse.

While the first are considered already addicts at this point, the latter, still have some control over their drinking habit; their behavior is self-destructive for the most part and it can present certain danger to others, BUT they’re not yet alcoholics in the full sense of the term.[1]​

14 Signs of Alcohol abuse:

​1. Continuous neglect of one’s responsibilities.

2. Drinking to relax and un-wind becomes a habit.

3. If a person’s drinking with friends evolve into a habitual binge.

4. Using alcohol when operating a vehicle

5. Mixing alcohol with prescribed medications.

6. Legal conflict due to alcohol use, arrest for DUI or disorderly conduct

7. Losing all control over drinking

8. Drinking despite a decision not to.

9. No matter how hard a person may want to stop drinking, they can’t resist

10. All other activities, interests have been replaced by drinking

11. Continued drinking knowing the habit causes problems to self and others

12. Increased tolerance to alcohol

13. Continued drinking knowing the habit causes problems to self and others

14. The presence of withdrawal symptoms

Just how big is the threat of alcoholism to the global society?

The World Health Organization has provided 
about 140 million people worldwide were struggling with alcohol dependency in 2003![2]

So, it seems relevant to try and shed some light on this widely spread menace in order to raise the awareness about alcohol and in hopes to reduce its hazardous consequences and the need for a stay in a alcohol rehab.

Signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse and alcoholism

It is crucial to notice those indicative signs of a problem in its early stages; this will greatly facilitate and speed up the whole process of recovery.

Be mindful of these symptoms, so that, if you or someone you care about, experience any of them, you can act in time. This may include counseling, all the way to alcohol detox.

Unlike alcohol abuse, alcoholism implies any number of the 15 signs with the addition of physical dependence to alcohol beverages resulting in some of the symptoms discussed below.

To put it simply, if a person is unable to function ‘properly’ without alcohol (alcohol as an eye-opener in the morning) or if he feels compelled to drink, his drinking problem is most certainly evolved into alcoholism.

Not every person who abuses alcohol becomes an alcoholic in the full sense of the word; however, a number of studies have indicated a significant correlation between the two.

One of the major giveaways of alcohol abuse, turning into alcoholism, is denial. It is also one of the most common obstacles to recovery. Alcoholics often feel ashamed of their habit and instead of being honest to themselves, thus allowing the recovery to happen, they rationalize the problem. Unfortunately, this doesn’t even mask the problem, much less lead to recovery.

One of the major giveaways of alcohol abuse, turning into alcoholism, is denial. It is also one of the most common obstacles to recovery.

Alcoholics often feel ashamed of their habit and instead of being honest to themselves, thus allowing the recovery to happen, they rationalize the problem.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t even mask the problem, much less lead to recovery.

Risky groups

substance-abuse-treatment-hospital

Numerous studies have confirmed that certain groups are more susceptible to alcohol abuse or alcoholism, than others:

  • Obviously, genetics is considered one of the most important.
  • According to one study, alcoholism is 40-50% genetically determined.[3]
  • The social environment and the attitude the family has towards alcohol plays an important role too. For example, children whose parents are alcoholics, have 4 times greater chance to develop the addiction themselves.
  • It is also well documented that people with some other mental disorders, are significantly more prone to develop alcohol dependency. This especially refers to depression, anxiety, psychosis, post-traumatic stress disorder. The whole idea is to relieve the primary symptoms with the help of alcohol (self-medication); sadly, this only worsens the primary condition.
  • Often, some very stressful events may contribute to developing alcohol dependence, such as losing a partner, child, close friend or a job.
  • Some racial groups are found to be more at risk from alcoholism. This is the case with Native Americans and Native Alaskans.[4]
  • According to one research, from 2006, most alcoholics become dependent during their teens, which makes the young especially exposed and at risk.[5]
  • Women tend to suffer from long-term alcohol complications more rapidly than men. Sadly, it is not merely this that is worrying – they also have a higher mortality rate due to alcoholism than men

Any number of withdrawal symptoms may occur, but the most common are:


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Trembling
  • Hands
  • Shakiness
  • Denial
trained-medical-staff

LONG TERM EFFECTS OF ALCOHOLISM

According to American Medical Association, alcoholism should be considered as an illness that has both, physical and mental consequences; it is considered that it can cause the damage of every body organ, the brain included!

Excessive drinking leads to a variety of physical problems. The most affected organs are the heart, liver, pancreas, brain.

These areas include:​

  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Various heart-malfunctions
  • Fatty liver
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Fibrosis
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Cancer

Alcohol is also a known cause of certain cancers – apart from liver cancer; it can cause mouth, throat, and breast cancer!

As for the immune system, excessive drinking significantly weakens the body’s ability to fight off various infections and making a person more liable to contact diseases, such as tuberculosis and pneumonia.

All of these physical diseases are often accompanied with a wide range of mental issues, such as depression, anxiety, panic disorder, borderline personality disorder, bulimia, sexual dysfunction…

IT IS CONSIDERED THAT ABOUT 10% OF ALL DEMENTIA CASES ARE ALCOHOL RELATED IN SOME WAY, WHICH MAKES IT A SECOND MAJOR CAUSE OF DEMENTIA.
SO, THE COGNITIVE ABILITIES ARE GREATLY AFFECTED BY ALCOHOL MISUSE.[6]

Confusion, psychosis and organic brain syndrome are all caused by over consumption of alcohol, which often leads to wrongly diagnosed schizophrenia! Misdiagnosing situations like this can be avoided during a stay at a qualified  dual diagnosis treatment facility

Last but certainly not the least; alcohol is held responsible for thousands of deaths every year. Just in the USA, in 2001, 75,754 deaths were recorded to be directly related to alcohol misuse, according to the Centers for Disease Control.[7] Another study, from 2010, stated that among all addictive substances, and despite being legal unlike other illicit drugs, alcohol is considered by far the most harmful. (The same reference as above)

Looking for help in overcoming alcoholism?

The essential step is to admit you have a problem. It’s not a picnic after that, but it is a solid beginning with a very promising future.

There are different approaches to treating alcoholism, but they all agree on one thing: 

how-do-i-know-i-am-an-alcoholic
  • Readiness to get help
  • Reaching out for support
  • Committing to a good treatment program
  • Forgiveness and Healing
  • Learning Triggers
  • Develop coping skills
  • Attending an after care program

Whether you apply for an inpatient or out-patient treatment program depends on you. Generally, it is recommended that those who are at a greater risk of serious withdrawal symptoms should seek help in a rehab center, where they can get adequate medical help.

WHICHEVER YOU CHOOSE, IT IS IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND THAT DETOXIFICATION IS NOT A TREATMENT OF ALCOHOLISM; IT HAS TO BE FOLLOWED BY APPROPRIATE ACTIONS THAT WILL TREAT THOSE UNDERLYING CAUSES OF ALCOHOLISM. DETOX ONLY ALLOWS A HEALTHIER STAND FROM WHICH THEY CAN BE ADDRESSED AND RESOLVED.

To treat the root causes of alcoholism, various group therapies are used, as well as psychotherapy.

Cognitive behavioral treatment and other supportive programs, such as AA (alcoholic anonymous) have had positive results in helping an addict develop a healthier and more constructive life-style and in preventing relapse situations.

Resources:

About the Author:

Kara Crow is a substance abuse treatment consultant. She joined The Recovery Way last year and has been working to develop and implement new treatment strategies, and to analyze addiction treatment services. Learn more about her here and connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Google+.

Kara Crow – who has written posts on The Recovery Way.


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