Signs of Alcoholism
Signs of Alcoholism: When Drinking Becomes Destructive
Alcohol is one of the most abused substances in the United States. It is popular not only because it is widely available but it is also socially acceptable to drink. Alcohol is advertised to us as safe if we “drink responsibly,” but what does that mean? How do we know what the signs of alcoholism are?
With the prevalence of alcohol within American culture, you may be surprised to find out that alcohol abuse is defined as drinking two drinks per day or binging five drinks in two hours. For women, the number is even lower at one or four drinks per day in two hours. In fact, safety guidelines in our neighbor to the north, Canada, have changed this year, citing alcohol abuse with the risk of harmful consequences as anything over two standard drinks per week.
Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows the nervous system down and alters brain chemistry. Over time, the body adapts to the consistent presence of alcohol in your system. This dependence can lead to tolerance and addiction, causing serious effects on your body and mind. It can also affect your loved ones, impact your career and financial health, and cause family problems. Drinking can destroy your life as you know it. If you feel like you cannot stop drinking alcohol, speaking with your physician or an addiction expert is a good idea to learn more about your options.
How Is Alcoholism Defined?
Alcohol use disorder (formerly diagnosed as alcoholism) is the medical term for when you can no longer control your drinking habits, even when it has serious negative impacts on your life. This health condition is beyond a person’s control, not a moral failing or a simple lack of willpower. It is a medical issue that needs professional care to overcome.
The way AUD is defined includes a physical and psychological component. This means a physical tolerance and dependence will form, producing withdrawal symptoms if there is no alcohol present within the body. There is also a psychological compulsion to drink, along with disordered thinking that causes intense cravings, leading to thoughts and actions that are focused on obtaining and drinking more alcohol.
There are three stages of AUD. The early stage resembles social drinking, with occasional binge drinking. Chronic alcoholism is the second stage, occurring after years of regular drinking when serious problems begin to arise, and in end-stage addiction, severe health problems begin to arise which can become deadly if untreated.
There is no single reason for why AUD becomes an issue for some people but not others. It could be genetic reasons, environmental conditioning, or as an attempt to cope with the underlying symptoms of a mental health disorder or trauma. Each person is different and will require a tailored treatment plan that is made to suit their unique needs to be able to recover from addiction.
9 Signs of Alcoholism
Some common signs of alcoholism include:
- Developing a tolerance to alcohol
- Experiencing a loss of control and continuing to drink even when it begins to cause serious trouble in your life, school, work, and/or family
- Being unable to control how much you drink once you get started
- Feeling cravings or constantly thinking about when you can have your next drink
- Needing to drink to avoid withdrawal symptoms or to “get through” the day
- Feeling guilty about drinking, lying, or drinking in secret
- Losing interest in your hobbies and usual activities
- Using alcohol when it is not safe, like at work, while swimming, or while driving
- An emotional or psychological attachment to drinking develops
Learn more about the early signs of alcoholism here:
How Is Alcoholism Treated?
Admitting that you see the signs of alcoholism in yourself is an important first step, but where do you go from there? You may wish to speak to your doctor about your options, or you can research rehabilitation clinics on your own and find one that suits your individual needs.
It is not a good idea to try and quit drinking alone, as the withdrawal symptoms from alcohol can sometimes become severe and dangerous to your health. An inpatient detox program is the safest first step. When you arrive at a detox center, you will undergo a full evaluation to determine your health and psychiatric needs. This will help doctors and addiction professionals deliver the appropriate care level and ensure you stay safe and comfortable as your body adjusts to the lack of alcohol.
Detox from alcohol can take anywhere from a few days to over a week. Staying inside an inpatient treatment center will greatly reduce your risk of relapsing during this time. You will sleep in a comfortable bed, eat healthy food, and you may also receive prescription medications, holistic treatments, and psychiatric care to help keep you comfortable.
Because AUD is also a psychological disorder and is often a symptom of deeper-rooted issues, detox alone is not enough to overcome addiction. Comprehensive inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation is the next step. In rehab, you will learn to address and work on underlying issues, regain your health, and undergo behavioral therapy. Mutual support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, along with group and family therapy will help you rebuild your community, while case management services can help you take control back over your life.
12 Benefits of Quitting Drinking After Alcoholism
Some major benefits that come with quitting drinking include the following:
- Having improved liver function, especially if you quit drinking before serious damage has been done
- Improving your immune system and getting sick less often
- Seeing reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other serious health problems
- Saving money because drinking regularly is very expensive
- Losing weight, as alcohol is very high in calories without any nutritional value
- Improving mental clarity and sharpness
- Improving self-esteem and overall mental well-being over time
- Developing clearer skin and looking less bloated and puffy
- Sleeping better, as drinking reduces sleep quality
- Smelling better, as your body will not need to eliminate alcohol through your sweat and breath
- Getting to know yourself better and learning to cope with stress in healthier ways
- Connecting on a deeper level with those around you, without alcohol’s fog getting in the way
Call Muse Treatment for Help If You Show Signs of Alcoholism
If you have noticed the signs of alcoholism in yourself or in a loved one, please contact Muse Treatment at (800) 426-1818 for a confidential conversation about your options. Upon arrival, we provide a full medical and psychiatric evaluation so that we can customize your care. You will have 24-hour clinical care available to you, as well as medications to help with any pain, anxiety, nausea, and sleep issues you may experience while detoxing. We provide an encouraging and stable environment in which you can heal.
After alcohol detox, a full continuum of care is available to you at Muse, from inpatient rehab to outpatient programs like partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs. We will help you choose the right path for your individual needs. Each program integrates evidence-based therapies and treatments with holistic programming, case management, group and community involvement, and family therapy (when appropriate). We can start you down the path to recovery surefooted and equip you with the knowledge, skills, and relapse prevention techniques you need to achieve long-term sobriety.
Call (800) 426-1818 now to learn more about our alcohol addiction treatment programs and how we can help you.