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Alcoholism | Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse

The Definition of Alcoholism Alcoholism is one of the most severe forms of alcohol abuse, and it involves the lack of ability to manage your drinking habits. Some people can go out, have a few drinks, be responsible, and go home. Whereas others, it takes over their life. Three different categories define alcoholism; they can…

The Definition of Alcoholism

Alcoholism is one of the most severe forms of alcohol abuse, and it involves the lack of ability to manage your drinking habits. Some people can go out, have a few drinks, be responsible, and go home. Whereas others, it takes over their life. Three different categories define alcoholism; they can either be mild, moderate, or severe. These categories have a variety of symptoms and cause different harmful effects. What many do not realize is that alcoholism untreated early on can escalate to being out of control.

People who struggle with alcohol use disorder usually feel as though they cannot function without it. Addiction affects not only the person but their career, relationships, and, most importantly, their health.  With time, the severe side effects of alcoholism can produce damaging impediments to your health and well-being.

Individuals do not need to suffer from alcohol addiction alone. There are various treatment centers and options available to help you overcome your alcoholism and achieve sobriety. There are numerous warning signs to show potential alcohol abuse. Use this as a guide to help you or those you love recover from alcohol abuse.

Alcoholism Warning Signs

Often the cautionary signs of alcoholism are especially visible, but other times they take longer to come to light. When alcohol abuse is discovered in its early stages, the chance for a successful recovery drastically improves.

The Most Common Signs of Alcohol Abuse are:

  • One’s inability to control their consumption of alcohol
  • Craving alcohol even when you are not drinking
  • Putting alcohol above personal goals and responsibilities
  • Having the urge to drink more
  • Spending a considerable amount of money on alcohol
  • Shifting your behavior while consuming and after consuming alcohol

If you get the impression that alcohol consumption is taxing your life or the life of someone you care about, it is important to get help as soon as possible. If you are genuinely concerned about your drinking, a doctor will be able to offer professional medical advice and assistance and help you curb your addiction. It is always better to seek a solution for your alcohol abuse sooner than later, as it is the fastest way to get you back to your goals of living a healthy and wholesome life.

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Why People Start Drinking

There are so many factors that contribute to alcohol abuse. People often run to alcohol for one reason, and eventually, after time, create a dependency on drinking. It is not uncommon, for example, to begin drinking during times of hardship. Perhaps there was a death in the family, a loss of income, or something else drastic that triggered you. Over time this could develop into long-term alcohol abuse.

While there are several reasons why one might start drinking, some of the most common are:

As a Stress Reliever

People often rely on alcohol to remove or reduce the stress of daily life.  Drinking as a stress reliever, like many other things, can often trigger the likelihood of developing alcoholism.  Alcohol scientifically changes the chemicals in your brain, and drinking produces feelings of pleasure, but the problem comes when you frequently drink and become tolerant of alcohol. This forces you to consume more alcohol to achieve the same results.

Because it Makes Them Feel Good

When one consumes alcohol, it can often provide people with relief from their lives and daily stressors. It offers them a break from any underlying issues at the forefront of your thoughts, and you try to break free from them.  Like anything and often the other symptoms, this begins slowly and is something that you use to get through your day or week but becomes a severe alcohol addiction issue.

Death of a Loved one

Indeed, losing someone you love can wallop you mentally, physically, and emotionally. People often turn to alcohol to help ease the pain they feel and to get through tough times.  Relying on alcohol, even through tough times, is a double-edged sword because it can quickly become a drinking problem.

Conquer Anxiety

People who suffer from social anxiety can use alcohol as a social lubricant to help them cope with their anxiety issues in public. The alcohol gives them a false sense of courage, which makes them feel comfortable in certain situations where they may not be sober. Over time, people who use alcohol as a social lubricant can lead an alcohol problem.

Lack of Relationships

Incredibly, people drink alcohol to feel more socially connected to others. Individuals do this because they think alcohol will either fill in the gaps or make it easier to bond with new people. Typically, the opposite ends up being the truth.


When people feel shame, it is one of the more difficult emotions to handle and often can be the most dreadful to deal with. People who use alcohol to cope with shame often delay their actual feelings. The alcohol might cause them to act differently than they would generally cause even more degradation.  The guilt they feel could come in the form of reckless behavior or even saying something you would not typically say, but delaying shame often leads to more degradation.  This creates a downward spiral and can cause one to fall into alcohol abuse.

To Manage Trauma

Today, professionals who treat alcohol abuse are seeing some form of trauma in almost every patient that they interact with. Certainly, there are lots of different kinds of trauma, but they are all stressful events where someone fell wounded. A lot of times, people turn to alcohol to treat trauma, but it often leads to alcohol abuse and dependency.

The Effects on Health from Alcoholism

Excessive drinking, whether it is one time or for a prolonged period, can take a severe toll on your physical and mental health. Some of these effects can be minor, but others are serious and even life-threatening.

Alcohol abuse is detrimental to your long-term health; there are also short-term risks that must be considered. An example of the short-term risks is why drunk driving is so dangerous. While one is intoxicated, their motor skills diminish, meaning their reaction time. coordination, and reflexes will be hindered. Not to mention that it might be less risk-averse while consuming alcohol as well. So, in the short-term, not only is drunk driving a risk to the individual doing the reckless act but also others are in danger as well.

Short-term Health Issues May Arise from Alcoholism:

  • slow reaction time
  • slow reflexes
  • low-risk aversion (taking risks a sober person would not)
  • distorted vision
  • restlessness
  • difficulty breathing

The long-term effects of alcoholism could lay dormant for long periods before they come to light. Since this is true, medical professionals and their care is often needed for proper diagnosis and treatments.

Long-term Health Conditions caused by Alcohol Abuse Include:

  • Cardiovascular system issues (heart attack or stroke)
  • Liver Disease
  • Cognition and dementia
  • Cancer
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Diabetes complications

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Treatment for Alcoholism

An alcoholic choosing to seek refuge from their alcohol addiction is one of the most significant decisions one will face in their lifetime. Given one’s complexity of alcohol abuse, there are different treatments that one could do to help mitigate the problem. Your journey to recovery begins when you enter rehab but getting in good health from alcoholism is a long process that takes commitment and practice.

Every individual should have a recovery plan that meets their unique needs, but treatments often follow a general structure.

Typically, the first step in recovery is detoxification.  In this phase, the alcoholic, with the help of medical professionals, will wean themselves from alcohol dependency. This process is one of the most serious and painful side effects of long-term alcohol abuse. This process is done under the guidance and supervision of trained medical professionals to ensure the safety of the alcoholic.

Once the alcoholic leaves detox, step two is generally to go into a treatment center for the alcoholic to receive rehabilitation. This can last 30, 60, or 90 days and consists of inpatient or outpatient treatment.

The final step is the required maintenance that one will have to do to stay sober. The recovery process does not end when you leave the facility, treatment is only the beginning. Long-term sobriety takes a lot of time and effort, and those who maintain their sobriety will do so by going to support groups, counseling, or other sorts of recovery resources.

If you or a loved one is ready to beat alcohol addiction, there is no better time or place to contact Quit Alcohol.

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Dr Kate Smith

Clinical Reviewer

More about Dr. Kate Smith

Dr. Kate Smith is a licensed professional and has worked in the mental health and substance abuse disorder fields for over 10 years. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Florida Atlantic University, graduating magna cum laude from her class. She obtained her Masters in Social Work (MSW) at Barry University in an accelerated program.

More about Dr. Kate Smith

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