Signs and Symptoms

Alcoholism Signs and Symptoms

An individual suffering from alcoholism may fly under the radar for several months – maybe even years. But after a time, family members and friends cannot ignore the symptoms. If you or a loved one shows any of the following signs, you should call our hotline to seek mental health treatment in the form alcoholism treatment at inpatient or outpatient program.

Some of The Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction

Alcoholism is characterized by a compulsive desire to seek out and drink alcohol despite an onset of negative consequences. The alcoholic woman, for example, may tell herself she will go out on Friday night and limit herself to one or two beers. After the second drink is absorbed, she finds herself reaching for a shot of Jack Daniels. By the time the night is over, she’s in a complete black-out, meaning that she does not remember any part of the night once the binge wears off. The next morning is met with a miserable hangover. Withdrawals from alcohol are manifested into physical symptoms such as:

A Few Signs and Symptoms

  • Shaking and/or tremors
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness and agitation

The alcoholic woman cannot recall anything from the previous night and is riddled with anxiety, fear, and guilt. Friends and family members are baffled by her behavior. She promised not to have more than two, yet she ended up having ten drinks. How does this happen? Herein lies the conundrum – the disease of alcoholism is cunning and powerful. It’s insidious ability to convince victims that they can drink like a normal person lead to self-destructive patterns, broken promises, and self-resentment. Everyone close to the alcoholic is affected in a negative way.

Why do People Become Alcoholics

What causes some people to handle liquor normally and others to become alcoholic? The answer is complex and multifaceted. There is no clear equation for determining who will become an alcoholic and who will not. However, there are several factors that contribute to increased chances for developing alcoholism.

Variables that heighten the possibility of a person becoming an alcoholic include:

  • A family history of alcoholism, particularly when an immediate family member has alcoholism or a substance abuse problem
  • Environmental factors such as socializing regularly with a group of heavy drinkers
  • Binge drinking on weekends throughout one’s early years can eventually lead to alcoholism
  • Beginning to drink at a very young age, such as 12 or 13
  • Belonging to the male gender – men have a slightly higher chance of becoming dependent on alcohol as compared to women
  • Depression or other co-occurring disorders such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), or bipolar disorder

In terms of co-occurring disorders, many alcoholics determine that they have an underlying psychiatric disorder upon seeking treatment for alcoholism. The two mental disorders fuel each other in a detrimental way. For example, a middle-aged man seeks counseling for his alcohol problem and discovers that he has clinical depression as well. The two disorders fuel each other’s intensity – alcohol is a depressant, and the more he drinks, the more it exacerbates his symptoms of depression. Which came first – the chicken or the egg? It does not matter. It does no good to try and determine which mental disorder preceded the other. The fact is, shades of gray will almost always cloud the real answer. The focus should be on managing co-occurring disorders through a combination of avenues to reduce symptoms of both and sustain sobriety.

Getting Help

If you suspect a loved one may be an alcoholic, be wary of changes in behavior. An extroverted teen, once actively involved in the school counsel, academic achievements, and extracurricular activities — suddenly withdraws from social activities. He exhibits signs of agitation and restlessness. He may be suffering from teen alcoholism. For anyone, male or female, delve deeper and look for the following red flags that may indicate a problem with alcohol:

  • Does he or she have an acquired tolerance to alcohol, i.e. require increasingly high doses of alcohol to feel the same effects?
  • Is the person hanging out with a new group of friends in which heavy drinking is an integral part of the group culture?
  • Does the suspected individual tell you he or she is not going to drink, but then does anyway – repeatedly?
  • Is he or she drinking in the morning to “calm the nerves”?
  • Does he or she become defensive and irritated if and when you approach them about their drinking habits?
  • Do you sense the person carries a great deal of shame, guilt and regret associated with their drinking or partying?

If you answered yes to several of these questions, you may be dealing with an alcoholic. Perhaps the alcoholism is in the early stages of development and not all of the criteria for alcoholism are met at this point. Regardless, it is important to consider treatment for alcoholism. Long-term alcoholism leads to severe physical and psychological health risks. Cirrhosis of the liver, organ damage, and cancer are only three possibilities of the litany of health risks associated with alcoholism. Thankfully, treatment is available, and many alcoholics recover from the disease – maintaining abstinence for the long-term.