Drinking alcoholic beverages is a socially acceptable practice, so it’s no wonder that many people may not be aware when they themselves or a loved one crosses the line that divides moderate drinking from alcoholism. Yet there are signs of alcoholism that are unmistakable. Alcoholics generally exhibit telltale characteristics that should not be ignored as alcohol abuse can lead to a powerful addiction.
Understanding Alcohol Addiction
Many people may not completely understand the disease of alcoholism. Alcohol abuse, which may involve blackouts, drinking until drunk or binge drinking, is not alcoholism per se, but these signs are associated with alcoholism, which is a full-blown addiction. Abusing alcohol is dangerous because it can lead to alcohol poisoning, but it can also lead to dependence. Someone who is addicted to alcohol literally cannot stop drinking without experiencing pronounced withdrawal symptoms. Someone who drinks regularly or even abuses alcohol from time to time but can walk away from the substance for long periods of time is not an alcoholic. But it’s important to note that an alcohol addiction can occur at any time.
The Many Signs of Alcoholism
One of the earliest signs of alcoholism isn’t always noticeable to anyone but the addict. A tolerance should signal that there could be a developing addiction. For instance, drinking more than other people without getting drunk or needing to drink more than usual in order to experience a “buzz” indicates the presence of a tolerance. The problem with tolerance is that it requires the drinker to imbibe more in order to experience that former buzz or high, which only deepens the strength of the dependency.
Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when alcohol cannot be consumed is a sure sign of an alcohol addiction. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be extremely intense and unpleasant. They can involve nausea, vomiting, headaches, tremors, anxiety, insomnia, headaches and irritability. If drinking “cures” these symptoms, it’s safe to assume that addiction has set in.
Common Behaviors Exhibited by Alcoholics
Many alcoholics may be in denial about their alcohol problems. They may deflect discussing their drinking or proclaim that their drinking is “under control.” Friends and family, however, should not overlook certain behaviors that are evidence that their loved one’s chronic drinking is definitely not “under control.” Many alcoholics, for example, may suffer a negative consequence as a result of their drinking, like failed relationships, job problems or driving while under the influence. If drinking has led to these problems, but the person denies they have a problem, you can suspect alcoholism. Many alcoholics will also say they will quit drinking, but ultimately they cannot because they are addicted.
Alcoholics are also invariably preoccupied with drinking, drink each day and even drink when their health is negatively affected. Losing control of their behaviors when drinking or drinking to escape from problems are also signs of alcoholism.
Overcoming an Alcohol Dependency
Alcohol, like other addictions, isn’t easy to quit without certified medical treatment from an addiction treatment center. Yet treatment and addiction therapies can help an alcoholic lead a sober life free from the destructive forces of this disease. Alcohol-related deaths are the third-most preventable types of death in the United States. Never assume that alcoholism will spontaneously resolve itself; it is a chronic and progressive disease. With treatment, however, this disease can be successfully managed. The key is to not ignore symptoms of alcoholism and to get treatment as soon as possible.