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11 Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism

A man showing signs and symptoms of alcoholism

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) or alcoholism can appear through many signs and symptoms.

Alcohol use disorder develops over time, and it is the brain that encourages someone to become addicted. Alcohol enters the brain in less than ten seconds. Once it enters, it begins to affect how you think, feel and act. It does so by changing how the neurotransmitters, or chemicals, in the brain works.

Alcohol causes a spike in your “feel-good” chemicals. When you start drinking, you have a buzz and may feel euphoric. This is a false sense of happiness, however. When you stop drinking, your happy chemicals go down, leaving you feeling depressed.

Your brain wants to feel high again, of course, so it encourages you to continue drinking. The more you drink, the more you build a tolerance to alcohol and become dependent on alcohol. Eventually, you develop an alcohol use disorder.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism

Below are 11 signs and symptoms of alcoholism, which can be physical, behavioral, and psychological. If you recognize any of these signs, you can get help as soon as today.

1. You Drink More Than You Mean To

Even when you have a strategy for drinking or limit yourself to only two or three drinks, you struggle to stick with the plan and drink more than intended.

2. Have Tried to Stop But Couldn’t

Reasons to drink, or justifications, always seem to come up and give you an excuse to drink again. Whether it be a family celebration or not wanting to turn down a free drink offer, you can’t resist. You may even be trying to get rid of withdrawal symptoms, and the only way to do that is to keep drinking.

3. Experience Withdrawal Symptoms

When you go without alcohol for several hours, you feel the effects leaving your system. Nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, cravings, shakiness, tremors, and more may appear. Some withdrawal symptoms become so severe that you feel you must keep drinking alcohol to avoid them.

4. Spend a Lot of Time on Alcohol

Most people with an alcohol use disorder spend the majority of their time seeking alcohol, consuming alcohol, and recovering from the effects of alcohol.

5. Overwhelming Cravings for Alcohol

If you have ever had urges to drink that are overwhelming and prevent you from focusing on anything else, this is a sign of alcohol use disorder. Cravings make it challenging to quit misusing alcohol.

6. Alcohol Use Interferes with Personal, Professional, and Social Responsibilities

Your drinking habits can make it hard to fulfill work, school, and home duties. It can lead to losing a job, dropping out of school, being excluded from social activities, and lacking the ability to maintain a household.

7. Continuing to Drink Alcohol Despite Problems with Family and Friends

If you have an alcohol use disorder, your friends and family have likely told you their concerns and may have given you ultimatums. Yet, you continue to drink alcohol. Broken relationships are not enough to make you stop.

8. Avoid Activities You Once Enjoyed to Drink Alcohol

If you find yourself making excuses for why you cannot participate in activities with family and friends, activities you once enjoyed because you would rather drink alcohol instead are a clear sign of alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use becomes the priority in your life, even if it means being alone.

9. Find Yourself in Dangerous Situations While Drinking Alcohol

Alcohol affects the brain’s pre-frontal cortex, the parts responsible for decision-making. This means you may find yourself in dangerous situations when you consume alcohol. Examples include driving while intoxicated, unprotected sex, or walking in hazardous areas.

10. Continuing to Drink Knowing It Could Worsen a Physical or Psychological Condition

Many people with an alcohol use disorder also have other conditions, like anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder. They may also struggle with diabetes, high blood pressure, or fatty liver disease. Alcohol worsens all of these conditions and more. If you can’t stop drinking alcohol even though you know it can worsen your other illnesses, you may have an AUD.

11. Your Tolerance for Alcohol Increases

When you first start drinking alcohol, one or two drinks give you a buzz. The more you drink, the number of drinks it takes to get a buzz increases. This is called tolerance, and it will continue to build the longer you misuse alcohol. This is dangerous because eventually, you will consume more alcohol than your body can handle. Alcohol’s sedating effects can overwhelm the brain and cause it to shut down functioning organs, leading to an overdose.

If any of these criteria apply to alcohol use in your life, you can get help to reduce the harm AUD can have in your life.

Treatment Options

  • Detoxification is the process of eliminating toxic substances from your body. In a detox program, your withdrawal symptoms are significantly reduced with the help of anti-craving medications administered by a medical professional.
  • Psychiatric Evaluation is often the first step for many people. Because addiction and mental illness frequently combine, a psychiatric evaluation is required. We examine your mental health and provide you with a proper diagnosis. We can prescribe psychiatric medicines to treat and manage depression, anxiety, bipolarity, and other conditions when needed.
  • Anti-Craving Medication is used to help you maintain your sobriety for a long period of time. We utilize Vivitrol because it has been shown to be effective in preventing relapse. Naltrexone is an opiate antagonist, which means it prevents opiate receptors in your brain from feeling the effects of narcotics.
  • Psychotherapies in individual and group counseling help you identify and change thought patterns and behaviors, teach recovery skills, build relationships, and prevent future relapses.

Getting Started

To create a treatment plan that’s right for you, we start with a comprehensive assessment.

The assessment can tell if you need medical detoxification or detox on an outpatient basis. It can also help us decide if you would benefit from components like withdrawal medication assistance, intensive outpatient, psychiatric medication management, and other therapeutic options.

You can start treatment today. We are here 24/7 to answer your questions and help you choose the best treatment options.