Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction is a physical and psychological disorder driven by compulsive alcohol consumption and a strong desire to drink despite the negative consequences associated with it.

Signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction can vary in intensity based on the individual.

Common signs and symptoms include strong cravings for alcohol, physical dependence, loss of control over alcohol consumption, feelings of guilt or shame related to drinking, withdrawal symptoms when not drinking, difficulty in cutting back on drinking, neglecting responsibilities and continued drinking despite negative consequences.

It is important to note that alcohol addiction can lead to serious physical and emotional issues if left untreated.

Definition of Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction, also known as alcoholism, is a chronic disorder characterized by the compulsive use of alcohol despite the negative consequences. It is a progressive illness that can lead to physical and psychological dependence.

People with alcohol addiction often find it difficult to stop drinking, even with negative health or social impacts.

Symptoms of alcohol addiction include drinking to cope with stress, cravings and experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms.

Treatment typically includes a combination of psychotherapy, medication and support groups. 

Prevalence of Alcohol Use Disorder in the United States

The prevalence of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) in the United States is a serious public health concern. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), approximately 16 million adults over the age of 18 experienced AUD in 2018.

This equates to 6.2% of the adult population in the US. The prevalence of AUD is highest among young adults 18-25 years old, with an estimated 13.3% of this age group experiencing AUD in 2018. Prevalence of AUD increases with age.

Men are more likely to be affected than women, with 8.5% of men and 4.2% of women estimated to have AUD. Prevalence rates are also higher among individuals with lower incomes, with an estimated 8.2% of people with an annual income of less than $20,000 having AUD, compared to 3.2% of those with annual incomes of $75,000 or more. 

Physical Signs of Alcohol Dependence

Increasing tolerance to alcohol is a process that takes time. It involves developing the capacity to drink more alcohol without experiencing the same physical effects as before. To increase your tolerance, start by drinking smaller amounts of alcohol more frequently.

This gives your body time to adjust to the alcohol and can help you build up tolerance. Additionally, eating a full meal before and while drinking can help slow down the rate of alcohol absorption. Avoid binge drinking, as this can cause long-term damage to your health.

Taking breaks between drinks and drinking plenty of water can also help you manage your alcohol intake. Finally, be aware of the risks associated with alcohol and stay within the recommended limits for safe drinking. 

Blackouts and memory loss can result from alcohol use. A blackout is when a person is unable to remember events that happened while they were drinking.

During a blackout, a person may be able to interact with other people, but they will not be able to remember those conversations or activities afterwards. Memory loss from alcohol use can occur both during and after a blackout.

Long-term alcohol use can lead to permanent memory loss, including difficulty remembering events that happened in the past. 

Withdrawal symptoms of alcohol addiction can include:

  • nausea, vomiting
  • headaches, sweating
  • increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure
  • tremors, anxiety
  • insomnia, fatigue
  • seizures, and in extreme cases, delirium tremens (DTs).

DTs can include confusion, hallucinations, fever and agitation. These symptoms can be very severe and can last for days or weeks. Medically supervised detox is always recommended for people experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Attempting detox at home is dangerous.

Psychological Signs of Alcoholism

1. Cravings for alcohol are one of the most common symptoms of alcohol dependence. These cravings can feel intense and overwhelming and can make it difficult to resist drinking. The cravings can be triggered by thoughts, emotions, smells, or even just seeing a bottle of alcohol. The cravings can be so powerful that they can interfere with your daily life and affect your relationships. 

2. Uncontrolled drinking is the consumption of alcohol that continues despite the knowledge of the negative consequences it can bring. These consequences may include physical health issues, mental health issues and harm to relationships. 

People who engage in uncontrolled drinking are at a greater risk of developing AUD, along with other serious health complications, including liver damage, heart problems and an increased risk of certain cancers. It is important for individuals who are engaging in uncontrolled drinking to seek help from a medical or mental health professional in order to reduce their alcohol consumption and improve their overall health.

3. Guilt and shame are common feelings experienced by those struggling with alcohol addiction. Guilt is often felt due to the negative consequences that have resulted from alcohol use, such as broken relationships, financial issues or health problems. Shame results from feeling like you are not living up to your own personal standards or the expectations of others. These feelings can lead to a sense of worthlessness and can make it difficult to seek help and make the necessary changes to begin the recovery process. It is important to remember that guilt and shame are normal and valid emotions related to addiction and should not be seen as a sign of weakness. With the right support, those struggling with alcohol addiction can gain the tools and resources needed to break free from its grip and move towards a healthier, more fulfilling life.

4. Neglecting other activities / interests due to alcohol use is quite common. This can include missing work or school, avoiding social engagements and not taking care of basic needs such as eating, sleeping and self-care. When consumed in excess, alcohol can lead to an impaired ability to make rational decisions, leading to a lack of motivation or interest in activities and obligations. Furthermore, individuals can become so consumed with their alcohol abuse that they forget to take care of their physical and mental health, leading to a decline in their overall well-being. 

Behavioral Signs of Alcohol Abuse

1. Becoming isolated from friends and family members due to alcohol abuse can be a difficult and lonely experience. It can be caused by a variety of factors such as shame, guilt, fear, and avoidance. It can lead to feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety.

Many people who are struggling with alcohol abuse may withdraw from their social circles, family, and friends. They may also experience difficulty forming meaningful relationships. This can lead to further isolation and ultimately a sense of helplessness. It is important to seek help and support if you are feeling isolated as a result of alcohol abuse.

2. Continuing to drink despite relationships being negatively affected by it is a problem for people struggling with alcohol abuse. When a person drinks to excess, the consequences can be damaging to both their physical and mental health, as well as their relationships.

Alcohol abuse often leads to arguments, distrust and resentment between partners, spouses and family members. It can also lead to an increase in physical and emotional abuse, as well as violence and domestic abuse.

If a person is continuing to drink despite the negative effects it is having on their relationships, it is important to seek help. Professional treatment can help them learn healthier ways to cope with stress, build healthier relationships.

3. Having issues at work or job loss as a result of alcohol abuse is a very serious issue. Not only does it impact their ability to do their job well, but it can have a drastic effect on one’s mental and physical health. It can lead to long-term problems with stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. It can also lead to problems with family and friends, as well as legal and financial issues. Symptoms of alcohol abuse can include:

  • arriving late
  • increased absences
  • decreased productivity
  • difficulty focusing on tasks.

If you believe you may be struggling with alcohol abuse, it is important to seek help.  

Additionally, your employer may have resources and services to assist you with developing healthier habits. It is important to remember that you are not alone in this struggle and that there is help available.

4. Using alcohol as a way to cope with stress or other emotional issues can be a dangerous and self-destructive behavior. While alcohol may provide short-term relief from your stress or emotional issues, it can also lead to long-term problems, such as addiction, health issues and relationship problems. Furthermore, alcohol can actually worsen your stress or emotional issues in the long-term, as it can become a source of additional stress.

 If you’re struggling with stress or emotional issues, there are healthier ways to cope. Try to find healthy outlets for your stress, such as exercise, yoga, meditation or talking to a friend or counselor.

Also, try to get more sleep, eat healthy foods and take time to relax and take care of yourself.

Alcohol Poisoning 

Alcohol poisoning is a serious and potentially fatal condition that occurs when a person consumes a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time.

The alcohol overwhelms the body’s natural ability to process it, leading to a dangerously high blood alcohol concentration. Alcohol poisoning can cause confusion, vomiting, seizures, slow or irregular breathing, and unconsciousness. If not treated immediately, it can lead to coma, permanent brain damage and even death.

The rate of alcohol poisoning among alcoholics is alarmingly high. Alcohol poisoning occurs when someone consumes a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time, leading to serious health consequences. For alcoholics, the risk is even greater due to their increased tolerance for alcohol.

Their bodies have become dependent on alcohol, meaning that when they no longer have access to it, their bodies experience withdrawal symptoms. This can lead to consuming larger quantities of alcohol in a short period of time, which increases their risk of alcohol poisoning.

Alcoholics are also more likely to consume alcohol in an irresponsible manner, such as binge drinking or drinking on an empty stomach. All of these factors contribute to a much higher rate of alcohol poisoning among alcoholics when compared to those who are not dependent on alcohol.

Get Help for Alcoholism

Are you or someone you care about struggling with alcohol use? The team at Luxe Recovery is here to help. We offer world-class treatment options to help people regain control over their lives. Please do give us a call to discuss your situation and learn more about how we can help.

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