Recognizing alcohol addiction is not always easy if it’s not obvious. Some people hide their drinking and others tolerate alcohol so well that it’s not apparent that they are alcoholics. Knowing what the signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction are is key to identifying ongoing alcohol abuse. It’s important to recognize the symptoms not only in others but in one’s self, too, in order to get timely treatment started. Identification and admission of an alcohol problem are crucial for a person to deal with this extremely harmful addiction.
Main Symptoms of Alcoholism
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are a dozen symptoms of alcoholism:
- Inability to limit the alcohol one consumes
- Having a compulsion to drink
- Developing a tolerance so that more and more alcohol is needed to get high
- Developing problems with relationships, employment, finances or the law due to drinking
- Drinking in secret or by oneself
- Hiding alcohol at home, at work, or in a car
- Physical withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, shaking, or sweating when unable to drink
- Forgetting commitments or conversations (“blacking out”)
- Losing interest in hobbies or activities previously enjoyed
- Forming a ritual of drinking at certain times and getting upset if the ritual is questioned or interfered with
- Drinking fast, ordering doubles, and becoming intoxicated quickly to feel good or normal
- Feeling irritable when usual drinking time nears, especially when alcohol isn’t available
A person exhibiting one or more of these symptoms abuses alcohol and is probably an alcoholic (is addicted to alcohol).
Alcohol Addiction Questions to Ask
Ask yourself or others these questions to determine if drinking has become abuse of or dependence on alcohol:
- For men: Do you ever have five or more drinks in one day?
- For women: Do you ever have four or more drinks in one day?
- Do you need a drink first thing in the morning?
- Do you ever feel guilty about your drinking?
- Do you believe that you should reduce the amount you drink?
- Do you get annoyed when others comment on or criticize your drinking?
A yes answer to one or more of these questions means that there is a drinking problem.
Steps to Confirm and Treat Alcohol Addiction
The harms to individuals and society from alcohol addiction are enormous and were recently judged to be the worst of any drug. Out of 20 drugs assessed, alcohol was the fourth worst in terms of its harm to the individuals addicted to it, but was far and away the worst drug in its harmful consequences to others and to society in general. Thus it is in everyone’s best interest to confirm alcohol addiction and to motivate or help alcoholics get treatment. A great many innocent people are injured by alcoholics on and off the road.
If you have a loved one who needs treatment talk to a doctor or other professional (therapist) to get advice on how to approach the subject of getting treatment. Many addicts are in denial and need a lot of help to see the mess that they are in.
Treatment options for those dependent on alcohol include:
- Detoxification – in a hospital or inpatient treatment center to handle withdrawal issues and medicate the patient if required.
- Psychological Counseling – either group or individual therapy to provide psychological support for the major behavior change and loss of the crutch of alcohol.
- Medications – either oral or injected, can reduce the urge to drink and produce unpleasant symptoms if drinking is resumed.
- Support Groups – to help recovering addicts cope with their major changes and potential relapses.
- Treatment of Related Psychological Problems – depression or anxiety may be part of the path to addiction and these underlying issues often need ongoing therapy.
Although these various treatments might seem expensive they pale in comparison to the true total cost of alcohol addiction.
Recognize Alcohol Addiction in Order to Deal With It Effectively
Taking care of family, friends and neighbors who have problems strengthens our communities and is in the best interest of all. Recognizing alcohol addiction is the first step in persuading those afflicted to get help or enter a treatment facility. Medical doctors and licensed therapists can be valuable resources in helping people to admit they have an alcohol problem and to identify where they can get help. Use these community resources or friends and family so that you are not alone in dealing with an alcoholic, which can be more than frustrating.