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Recognizing Warning Signs of Alcohol Abuse and Addiction
A nagging voice in your head seems to suggest that you or a loved one might just have a problem with alcohol. Denial is always the first reaction to “the voice,” mostly because it is a truth difficult to acknowledge. Ignoring the possibility that you or your loved one has an alcohol use disorder (AUD), however, will only exacerbate the problem, leading to a more entrenched addiction and an escalation of physical and emotional damage.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, there are about 15 million U.S. adults with an AUD. Of this number, only 6.7% received treatment for the disorder, a tiny fraction of those in need of it. Without treatment, the disease of alcoholism can have devastating consequences on many levels, including leading to death. Recognizing the warning signs of alcoholism, and heeding them, is the first step toward recovery. So, listen to that little voice—it is trying to get your attention for a reason.
10 Warning Signs of Alcoholism
There are some clear signs that an individual has developed problem drinking. Although the current definition of AUD describes problem drinking in terms of severity, the signs that culminate in an AUD of any degree are universal. Signs of alcoholism include the following:
- Drinking alone to the point of intoxication. When someone finds themselves continually drinking in isolation to the point of intoxication it is a sign that they have a problem with alcohol.
- Lying about your drinking. Those who lie to cover up the excessive amount they drink, or their chronic heavy drinking, are feeling shame and guilt about it.
- Blackouts. Blackouts occur when drinking large amounts of alcohol leads to loss of memory of certain events, places they went, or things they did or said while intoxicated.
- Relationships suffering. Excessive drinking can take a toll on relationships with a spouse, children, friends, and coworkers because the drinking takes precedence over them. With advanced AUD, the immediate family is seriously impacted.
- Avoiding social gatherings. Where it was fun in the past to attend an event and have a few drinks, the alcoholic will begin to avoid these gatherings knowing they have no ability to stop drinking, no sensation of being sated, which can lead to embarrassment.
- Increased tolerance. A problem drinker may begin to notice that they are incrementally drinking more and more to get the desired effect of the alcohol. Increased levels of alcohol consumption only make them more dependent on it in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
- Trouble with the law. Someone who consistently drinks heavily may eventually incorporate it into their daily habits, including driving under the influence of alcohol, potentially resulting in a DUI/DWI or a car accident.
- Negative consequences mount. As problem drinking escalates, a slew of repercussions begin to stack up. This might include problems functioning satisfactorily on the job due to being hung over or experiencing reduced cognitive functioning, financial woes due to spending more on booze or not paying bills on time, and a host of other adverse effects caused by shirking responsibilities.
- Increased cravings. As alcoholism becomes more severe, the brain and nervous system adjust to the constant influx of alcohol. This leads to alcohol cravings during periods when one is not drinking.
- Withdrawal symptoms. The most glaring sign of alcoholism is the of highly uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when attempting to not drink. This is the cluster of physical alcohol withdrawal symptoms, such as hand tremors, nausea and vomiting, irritability, insomnia, confusion, headache, and anxiety that signals an alcohol dependency has developed. In addition, physical signs of alcoholism include bloating of the face, a red, ruddy complexion, abdominal distention, fatigue, blood-shot eyes, and thinning hair.
Seeking Help at Alcohol Treatment Programs
The Treatment Specialist will connect you with a treatment center that understands how difficult it is to first admit there is a problem with alcohol, and then to guide you by answering your questions. The specialist will offer a free insurance check and check your benefits to help cover out of pocket costs of alcohol treatment program based on your specific needs. Call to connect at (866) 644-7911.