The Early Warning Signs of Alcoholism

The Early Warning Signs of Alcoholism | HealthSoul

Alcoholism is a chronic disease where someone has an uncontrolled urge and dependence on alcohol. This condition deeply affects one’s body, feelings, and relationships.

Alcoholism also appears in various forms, such as heavy episodic drinking or using alcohol to get through the day. Spotting the signs early is crucial for finding the right help and support.

Early Warning Signs of Alcoholism

Alcohol use disorders significantly impact individuals and society. This is why you should recognize early warning signs of alcoholism. Early recognition and intervention can lead to better outcomes for individuals.

Here’s are some early warning signs of alcoholism:

  • Drinking more: Drinking a lot more alcohol than before or drinking more often.
  • Needing more to feel drunk: Having to drink a lot more alcohol to get the same buzz or high feeling as you used to.
  • Feeling sick when not drinking: Getting shaky, sick to your stomach, nervous, or on edge when you stop drinking after you’ve been drinking a lot.
  • Hurting your life: Alcohol makes problems in your life like issues at work or with your friends and family.
  • Neglecting responsibilities: Not being able to do normal stuff or take care of your responsibilities because you’re drinking too much or are hungover.
  • Hiding your drinking: Lying about how much you drink or trying to sneak drinks because you don’t want people to know how much you’re drinking.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism

Recognizing the early signs and symptoms of alcoholism is imperative for timely intervention and treatment. Alcoholism isn’t always marked by an overtly dysfunctional lifestyle.

Many individuals may even function effectively in social and professional settings while struggling privately with alcohol use. Here’s a closer look at the various signs that can indicate a problem with alcohol.

Physical Signs

  • Increased Tolerance: An early sign of alcoholism is when an individual needs to consume more alcohol to achieve the same effects as before; this is known as building a tolerance to alcohol.
  • Withdrawal Symptoms: Physical signs of withdrawal such as headaches, sweating, tremors, nausea, and anxiety when not consuming alcohol can be indicative of dependence on alcohol.
  • Neglecting Appearance: Neglect of personal grooming and general physical appearance may occur as alcohol becomes a priority.
  • Blood Pressure Fluctuations: Alcohol can lead to changes in blood pressure, with chronic drinking potentially causing hypertension.

Behavioral Signs

  • Drinking Alone or in Secrecy: One may retreat from social interaction to drink alone or hide the extent of their drinking from others.
  • Changes in Social Groups: A shift towards social circles that center around drinking activities can be a behavioral sign of alcoholism.
  • Neglecting Responsibilities: Repeatedly failing to uphold commitments in personal, academic, or professional life, such as missing work or paying less attention to children, is another alarm bell.
  • Drinking at Inappropriate Times: Consuming alcohol at odd hours, such as in the morning or during work, can denote a reliance on alcohol.

Emotional Signs

  • Mood Swings: Erratic emotional responses or unusual irritability when not drinking may surface because of alcohol’s effects on mental health.
  • Defensiveness About Drinking: People with alcohol use issues may become defensive or angry when their drinking habits are questioned, often a sign of alcohol abuse.
  • Loss of Interest: Apathy or loss of interest in hobbies and activities that used to be enjoyable can signal that alcohol is becoming a central aspect of an individual’s life.

Casual Drinking vs. Alcoholism

Casual drinking means consuming alcohol in moderation, often socially or to unwind. Quantity and frequency are generally low, with no major life impact. There are no cravings or withdrawal.

Alcoholism involves excessive, regular alcohol consumption, leading to significant daily functioning impairment, including work, relationships, and health. Individuals often have strong cravings and may exhibit withdrawal when not drinking.

Diagnosis involves assessing criteria like loss of control over drinking, continued use despite consequences, and withdrawal symptoms. Seeking professional help is critical so individuals can recover and maintain sobriety.

The Effects of Binge Drinking

The effects of alcoholism are severe and wide-ranging. Frequent binge drinking can negatively impact physical, mental, and social health in major ways. There are both immediate risks from intoxication and long-term consequences.

Physical Effects

  • Liver damage (fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis)
  • Heart disease and cardiovascular issues (high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, stroke)
  • Accidents and injuries from intoxication
  • Deaths associated with health complications or accidents

Mental Effects

  • Memory and attention problems
  • Impaired decision making
  • Difficulty problem solving
  • Increased anxiety or depression
  • Overall decline in psychological well-being

Social Effects

  • Harm to career (poor work performance, loss of employment)
  • Conflicts in relationships with spouse and friends
  • Loss of meaningful relationships and connections
  • Social isolation over time

Treatment Options for Alcoholism

Getting help is the next vital step after recognizing alcoholism. Various treatment options should be explored to find the right path forward:

  • Medical detoxification: Supervised process of managing alcohol withdrawal symptoms in a facility with medical professionals monitoring vital signs and providing medications to ease the process.
  • Behavioral therapy: Working with a counselor or therapist, often in either individual or group settings, with goal of identifying problematic thought and behavior patterns related to drinking and learning new coping mechanisms.
  • Inpatient rehabilitation programs: Intensive residential treatment in a highly-structured environment with 24/7 medical/psychiatric care and addiction counseling, typically lasting 28 days up to 90 days or longer.
  • Outpatient counseling: Scheduling regular therapy appointments while continuing to live at home and manage everyday responsibilities; allows flexibility for those unable to take extensive time away.