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What are the Signs of Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is a serious problem that has affected millions of people in our country. Do you know what the signs of alcoholism are? It's important to understand the signs to determine if you are an alcoholic. Or, perhaps you're concerned that someone you love might be having a problem with alcohol. Either way, getting the right information is vital.

When you are an alcoholic, your entire life revolves around alcohol. There are both physical and mental signs that alcoholism may be a factor in your life.

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Alcoholism Signs

Chances are pretty good that you've noticed many of the emotional and physical signs of alcoholism. However, you may not have known that an alcohol problem was what you were looking at.

Alcohol is a dangerous drug. It's not illegal, which is why people tend to think of it as safe. It's also widely available, which causes most individuals to underestimate how harmful it can be.

There are certain symptoms of alcoholism that you can look for in your own life. However, these signs may be hard for you to identify within yourself. It might help to get the opinion of a close friend or family member who will be honest with you.

Are You an Alcoholic? Symptoms That Affect You Physically

The physical effects of alcoholism can be quite devastating. This is a drug that affects millions of people every single year. So many people don't realize how hazardous it really is, which is why they continue to drink.

When you have a serious drinking problem, you are at risk of experiencing:

  • Problems with your heart, including arrhythmias, a stroke, high blood pressure and cardiomyopathy.
  • Issues with your liver, including a fatty liver, cirrhosis, alcoholic hepatitis and fibrosis.
  • Issues with your pancreas, including pancreatitis, which is very dangerous.
  • Cancer of the mouth, throat, liver esophagus and even breast.
  • A weakened immune system, which can leave you vulnerable to serious diseases. Examples might be pneumonia and tuberculosis.

Did you know that there are outward, physical signs of alcoholism? A person's face and other characteristics can often tell the truth about their relationship with this drug.

The physical appearance of an alcoholic speaks volumes. You can often tell when someone has a drinking problem simply by looking for the following:

  • Broken capillaries on the face and nose
  • Yellowing of the eyes and skin (physical signs of liver damage)
  • Breath that always seems to smell like alcohol
  • Problems with personal hygiene and grooming
  • Extreme weight loss or weight gain
  • Very dry skin
  • Looking very red or flushed
  • Appearing to age quickly
  • Brittle fingernails and hair

Not all of the signs of being an alcoholic are physical in nature. Many of them are actually psychological effects. This is because this is a depressant drug. Because of this, it acts much like other depressants do.

You may be able to tell if you're an alcoholic if you notice:

  • Symptoms of depression, even major depressive disorder
  • An increase in suicide risk
  • Hepatic encephalopathy, which is worsening of the brain function because of liver problems
  • Significant changes in mood and personality
  • An increase in anxiety or panic attacks
  • A shorter attention span than normal

Alcoholics frequently exhibit personality changes. Because of these changes, they also generally exhibit certain behaviors. The following is a list of behavior patterns that are typical for those who have serious drinking problems:

  • They will come up with every excuse in the book to get to drink
  • They typically hide alcohol in various places around the house
  • They will often stay up late to drink when it's quiet
  • They won't attend events where alcohol isn't served or permitted
  • They may start drinking earlier in the day
  • They may drink before leaving the house
  • They become defensive when someone brings up the subject of alcoholism
  • They feel ashamed or guilty about how much or how often they drink

By now, you may have a pretty good idea of what alcoholism looks like. Have you noticed any of these qualities within yourself? If you have, you may have a serious drinking problem that needs to be treated professionally.

What Makes a Person an Alcoholic?

A person is an alcoholic when they place drinking in the place of most importance in their life. This person is defined as someone who suffers from the disease of alcoholism.

These individuals are obsessed with alcohol. They're not able to control how much they drink, or how often. They suffer from significant problems in their home life, personal life, and professional life.

If you can identify with any of the above, you may be an alcoholic. It's so important for you to find out for sure what your relationship with alcohol really is.

What's Your Relationship With Alcohol? This Quiz Can Help You Find Out

Maybe you've noticed some of the signs of alcoholism in your own life. However, you still have doubts about being an alcoholic. Taking a quiz might be a good step for you, if that's the case.

This quiz was designed for people who seriously question the role of alcohol in their lives. It will ask you a series of questions, and it's important to be honest. Once you answer all of the questions, you'll be redirected to your results.

If someone you love has a drinking problem, it's not always easy to point it out to them. In fact, you may not be aware of what to look for yourself. You need to know what the specific signs and symptoms of alcoholism are.

Does your loved one display any of the following?:

  • Lying about their drinking habits
  • Hiding alcohol all around your house, or in their vehicle
  • Extreme mood swings, based on how much they've been drinking
  • Health problems that are related to drinking
  • Recent job loss, or other work-related problems
  • Legal issues that involve drinking
  • Instances of driving under the influence
  • Problems managing responsibilities at home
  • Becoming isolated from family and friends
  • Promising to cut back, but then breaking that promise
  • Trying to stop drinking, but being unable to follow through

If you're like most concerned family members, you probably notice quite a few on this list. Many of these are signs of an alcoholic personality. If your loved one has only a few of these characteristics, he or she most likely has a drinking problem.

It's possible that you're not exactly an alcoholic yet, but it's only a matter of time. There are some warning signs you can look for to determine this. These include:

  • Having frequent blackouts after you've been drinking
  • Suffering from short-term memory loss
  • Frequently feeling irritable
  • Suffering from extreme mood swings
  • Telling others you need to drink because it relieves stress, or helps you relax
  • Choosing drinking over every other activity
  • Choosing to drink only in secret
  • Feeling hungover even when you haven't been consuming
  • Changing your physical appearance
  • Spending time with a different group of people than usual, who all drink

Could You be Struggling with Alcohol Abuse?

You may not be at the point right now where you're concerned about alcoholism. However, if you are concerned about your alcohol use at all, you could be abusing it.

Alcohol abuse always comes before the addiction. However, it's difficult to say how long you can abuse it before you become addicted to it. For some people, it may take years, and for others, it may take weeks.

If you're abusing alcohol, it's important for you to know. That way, you can take the necessary steps to stop before your abuse gets out of hand.

Signs of Alcohol Abuse

There are several signs of alcohol abuse you can look for in your own life. These include:

  • Becoming excessively depressed
  • Losing interest in your favorite hobbies or activities
  • Experiencing relationship problems
  • Behaving erratically
  • Exhibiting violent behavior
  • Feeling physically or mentally restless

Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse on the Body

For those who abuse alcohol, they often experience physical symptoms as well. You may notice any of the following:

  • Feeling sick to your stomach, or nauseous
  • Frequent episodes of vomiting
  • Problems with your judgment
  • Exhibiting slurred speech
  • Frequent headaches

Tricks Alcoholics Use to Stay in Denial of Their Conditions

Heavy drinkers are often prepared with an arsenal of tricks they use to remain in denial. They don't want to admit that they have a problem. Because of this, there are different things they might say and do.

For example, they may:

  • Only drink before and after special events, even if alcohol is being served there.
  • Promise their loved ones that they'll quit as soon as they get through a certain time.
  • Explain how beneficial alcohol has been for them, and say that it helps them cope.
  • Manipulate family members into sticking up for them.
  • Tell half-truths about their drinking.
  • Find ways to hide money to spend on alcohol.
  • Drinking vodka, which has less of an odor.
  • Keep "magic bottles" in the liquor cabinet, which never seem to get emptied out.

Whether someone is a high-functioning alcoholic, or their condition is obvious, most live lives of denial.

People who have recovered from alcohol addiction often wonder why life doesn't seem to improve. They may be suffering from a dry alcoholic personality. This is often referred to as dry drunk syndrome.

A dry drunk is someone who is no longer drinking, but they're still battling the problems that fueled the addiction. They may display an alcoholic personality, even years after they quit drinking. Dry drunks are often:

  • Dealing with resentment toward a family member who made them stop drinking.
  • Frustrated about the fact that they can't consume the same way others do.
  • Wondering if it's too late for them to achieve their goals or dreams.
  • Angry because they have to accept responsibility for poor decisions in their past.
  • Anxious about challenging themselves because they're afraid of failure.

The good news is that the right treatment can actually help with this condition. Not everyone ends up being a dry drunk, and getting the proper help can assist in avoiding it.

The Many Causes of Alcoholism

People often want to know, what causes a person to become an alcoholic?. Why is it that some people can drink excessively and never have a problem, while others can't? You may be wondering about the answers to these questions yourself.

There are actually many underlying causes of alcoholism. There are:

Social Causes

Social causes are often at the heart of many drinking problems. Peer pressure is very real, and not just for teens. Adults can be lured into drinking because of peer pressure as well.

Also, many people live in homes or communities where drinking is common. For some, it's even encouraged. This can have a strong influence on alcoholism as well.

Psychological Causes

So many people start drinking simply because they have a mental health issue. They may find that drinking helps them feel better, even if it's only for a little while. Some examples of common mental health conditions include:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Panic disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia

When these and other mental health conditions occur along with alcoholism, they're called co-occurring disorders. These problems must be treated at the same time as the addiction. If they are not, both conditions will only worsen in their severity.

Genetic Causes

Genetics have been shown to influence alcoholism. Genetics research has shown that the problem does run in families. Children of alcoholics are at a much higher risk of having alcohol problems themselves. However, less than half of them actually end up having drinking issues.

It's important to remember that while genes may be a factor, they're not the only factor. For most people, alcoholism is the result of continued alcohol abuse.

Getting Alcoholism Treatment for Your Recovery

If you're an alcoholic, stopping on your own carries so many risks. Everyone with a serious drinking problem needs professional support. Otherwise, they're usually not able to quit. Even if they are, they may go through DTs and need immediate medical treatment.

At Northpoint Evergreen Bellevue, we know what you're going through. This is a very challenging time that you're facing. We have the tools you need to overcome alcoholism successfully. There's no need for you to attempt it on your own. The right kind of support can change everything for you.

Have you noticed many of the signs of alcoholism in your own life? If you need to know more, or you'd just like to talk with someone about your alcohol use, contact us.