The Symptoms Of Alcoholism
Developing alcohol use disorder is something that can happen slowly over time. For this reason, it can sneak up on people, and their relatively healthy occasional drinking can all of a sudden become more frequent and more problematic.
If youre worried that you have developed a drinking problem, you might be Googling questions like If I blackout am I an alcoholic? and am I becoming an alcoholic?
Learning as much as you can about alcohol use disorder will help you to understand whether or not you are starting to develop a problem or not. Lets take a look at some of the symptoms of alcohol use disorder to give you a sense of what it consists of.
There are behavioral symptoms, mental health symptoms, and physical health symptoms that can result from alcohol use disorder.
Behavioral symptoms of alcohol use disorder include:
- Neglecting personal hygiene
- Becoming angry or violent when asked about their drinking habits
- Having a high tolerance
- Eating poorly or not eating at all
- Making excuses to drink
- Missing school or work due to drinking
- Giving up important recreational, occupational, or social activities because of their alcohol use
- Being unable to control how much alcohol they drink
- Continuing to drink even though economic, social, or legal problems start developing
Physical health symptoms that can result from alcohol use disorder include:
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not drinking, including nausea, vomiting, and shaking
- Having alcohol cravings
Tips To Reduce Your Alcohol Intake
If you find yourself drinking more than you feel you should, there are some simple techniques for reducing your alcohol intake whilst still enjoying a full social life this summer.
Hold your own BBQ that doesnt centre around alcohol.Arrange events where drinking alcohol isnt the norm.Keep your hands and your glass full. Always have a drink in your hand at events to prevent people offering to buy you drinks.Find a new favourite non-alcoholic drink. Virgin raspberry mojito, anyone?Make sure a few key people know you are trying to cut back on your drink.Offer to drive.
What Puts You At Risk Of Alcohol Addiction
Having a family history of alcoholism increases your risk ofdeveloping the disease. Children of alcoholics are about 4 times more likelythan the general population to develop an alcohol problem.3
But that being said, you still control your fate and if youchoose to abstain from alcohol, you are at no risk of becoming an alcoholic, nomatter how many close family members might be alcohol dependent.
Although genetics play a role, many close familymembers of alcoholics never develop a problem and many people without analcoholic family member become alcoholicsso clearly environmentalfactors play a significant role in determining your risk for this disease.
Besides your family history otherenvironmental and genetic factors which increase your risk of alcoholisminclude:
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Alcohol Overuse Vs Abuse
Theres a lot of mistaken all or nothing thinking about alcohol use. Many people assume there are two options: Either you dont have a drinking problem, or youre a total alcoholic whose life is falling apart. The reality is not simply black or white, but a spectrum with shades of gray. An alcohol use disorderthat is, alcohol abuse or alcoholismcan be mild, moderate or severe. People with an alcohol use disorder can be highly-functioning, highly compromised or somewhere in between.
Even a single bout of binge drinking can destroy the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, causing them to relay information too slowly and trigger mood changes. This can result in depression, agitation, memory loss and seizures. Sadly, many people die every year during bouts of binge drinking. For heavy, long-term drinkers, alcohol has been found to reduce the size of brain cells and overall brain mass. This can impact motor coordination, sleep, mood and an array of cognitive functions.
Take a self-test for drug or alcohol addiction
What Are The Signs Of Psychological Drug Addiction
Addiction is characterized by more than physical dependence, and it involves taking actions to pursue substance use even though it causes adverse consequences. Even if you recognize that continuing to use is harmful, you cant control the habit. The biological component, the change in brain chemistry, is the foundation for psychological drug addiction.
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Dangers Of Alcoholic Gastritis
Left untreated, gastritis can lead to serious problems. The erosion of the stomach lining can cause weakness, ulcers, dark stools, blood in stools, anemia, and shortness of breath. The worst complications could include stomach tumors or polyps. The good news is that alcoholic gastritis is treatable. However, one must stop drinking for best results.
Why Is It So Hard To Stop Drinking
- Why does that bottle of wine or beer call your name from the fridge after a long hard day?
- Why does the thought of a wedding without alcohol sound like a form of horrific torture?
- Why is it near impossible to put the bottle away when youd only planned to have two glasses?
- Why when you set the rule you wont drink on weekdays does Thursday night seem close enough to the weekend to give in?.
If physical cravings and the alcohol itself can be eliminated in just one short week, why is it so hard to stop drinking when we try to give up? Addressing the deeply rooted beliefs and comfort-seeking habits we have subconsciously developed around alcohol this is the life changing, missing link in the recovery process. This is the deep mental and emotional work needed to successfully overcome addiction to alcohol.
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Alcohol Use Disorder Statistics
In 2014, roughly 16.3 million adults in the U.S. had an alcohol use disorder . Of those with an AUD, only 8.9 percent received treatment. Teenage alcohol abuse rates are climbing in the U.S. An estimated 855,000 adolescents ages 12 to 17 had AUD in 2012. The number of adults seeking treatment from a specialized alcohol facility has remained consistent in recent years around 1.2 percent.
Signs Of Alcohol Dependence
Signs of alcohol dependence include:
- not being able to function without alcohol
- drinking has become an important, or most important, thing in life
- continuing to drink despite negative consequences for you or your loved ones
- finding it difficult to control the amount or the times when you drink
- finding it difficult to stop drinking when you want to
- not always being able to plan with certainty how much you are going to drink on an occasion
- drinking more alcohol
- craving alcohol or having withdrawal symptoms
- not seeming to be drunk after drinking large amounts
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What Does Alcohol Do To Us When We Drink It
Alcohol is a very simple chemical that can bring about big changes in the complex functions of the human brain. When we drink alcohol, it triggers the release of other chemicals in the body that make us feel more content and less sensitive to pain. So, it is no surprise that once we start drinking, we often want to carry on.
For some of us, alcohol becomes something we carry on consuming even though the negative consequences are plain to see.
Unable To Quit Or Cut Back
People who have become addicted may experience intense cravings for alcohol. These can be very overwhelming, and cravings can arise from a response to a variety of thoughts and feelings. The cravings for alcohol are the strongest when beginning recovery. Often, people experience a tug of war between the part of their brain that wishes to quit drinking and the part that wants to still feel the pleasures of alcohol. If you find yourself unable to quit or cut back your drinking, you might be becoming addicted to alcohol.
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Chronic And Acute Gastritis
Gastritis can either be chronic or acute. Chronic tends to be milder than acute, but both conditions damage the lining of the stomach. Chronic gastritis happens over time and is less symptomatic, while acute happens more suddenly and tends to be more painful. Both conditions may cause one to feel like their stomach is aching or burning, or they may describe it as a gnawing feeling in their upper abdominal area.
Do I Have A Family History Of Alcohol/substance Abuse
Alcoholism carries a genetic as well as an environmental component. This means that people brought up in families of heavy drinkers are at high risk of alcoholism not just because they are surrounded by substance abuse, but because the genetic makeup inherited from their parents makes them more vulnerable to developing a dependency. When asking am I an alcoholic? consider your familys substance abuse history, as well as your past and current environments. Alcoholic spouses, significant others and close friends can also steer a person towards heavy drinking behaviors over time.
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How Else Can I Tell If Im An Addict
Other signs that drugs and alcohol may be taking over your life include legal issues related to substance use, high-risk behaviors in pursuit of your next fix, making dangerous decisions in the interest of using, lying to people about your behavior and more. If you think that you or someone you care about may be struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, take our quiz.
Does Drinking Or The Aftereffects Of Drinking Keep Me From My Responsibilities
Because of the inordinate amount of time spent drinking and dealing with hangovers, a person who is struggling with alcoholism is often unable to keep up with responsibilities at home, work, or school. Perhaps the individual often calls in sick to work because of hangovers. Alternatively, the person may spend too much time drinking with friends and miss homework or work assignments. Drinking may take over time at home, resulting in housework left undone or bills left unpaid.
These responsibilities dont go away, and consequences can include disciplinary actions at school or work, a lost job, poor grades, or other external consequences. It also may result in financial difficulties or an unhealthy living environment, which can also contribute to relationship issues. If, in the face of all of this, the individual still cannot stop drinking, alcoholism is likely an issue.
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How Much Alcohol Is Too Much
It is recommended that both men and women do not regularly exceed more than 14 units of alcohol per week. One UK unit is equivalent to 10ml of pure alcohol, which is the amount that an average healthy adult can break down in around one hour.
These are examples of what one unit of alcohol looks like:
- Half a pint of lager at 3.6% ABV
- One single measure of spirit at 40% ABV
- One-half of a standard medium glass of wine, at 12% ABV
For anyone consuming the maximum weekly amount, guidelines advise that these units are spread over three or more days. If you want to cut down on the amount that youre drinking, its healthier to have several non-drinking days per week.
Recent studies have highlighted the fact that no amount of alcohol consumption can be deemed as entirely safe.
How Can A Psychologist Help
Psychologists who are trained and experienced in treating alcohol problems can be helpful in many ways. Before the drinker seeks assistance, a psychologist can guide the family or others in helping to increase the drinker’s motivation to change.
A psychologist can begin with the drinker by assessing the types and degrees of problems the drinker has experienced. The results of the assessment can offer initial guidance to the drinker about what treatment to seek and help motivate the problem drinker to get treatment. Individuals with drinking problems improve their chances of recovery by seeking help early.
Using one or more of several types of psychological therapies, psychologists can help people address psychological issues involved in their problem drinking. A number of these therapies, including cognitive-behavioral coping skills treatment and motivational enhancement therapy, were developed by psychologists. Additional therapies include 12-Step facilitation approaches that assist those with drinking problems in using self-help programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous .
These therapies can help people boost their motivation to stop drinking, identify circumstances that trigger drinking, learn new methods to cope with high-risk drinking situations, and develop social support systems within their own communities.
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The Key To Recovery From Alcohol Addiction
Self-awareness is the key that opens the door to a successful recovery. If you have made it this far in the discussion, you most likely already had an inkling that alcohol had become a problem in your life. Many people push on regardless and deny there is a problem at all, so well done! Self-awareness is critical and you have it. What next? As we just discussed, stopping the physical consumption of alcohol is next, allowing the physical cravings to be experienced, to pass and to end. The cycle of physical addiction has now been disrupted.
Then the heavy lifting begins! We need to bring to light and acknowledge the core, underlying false beliefs you have around alcohol that have enabled its emotional, habitual hold over you. These beliefs are most often operating completely at the subconscious level. Some of these beliefs may include:
EXAMPLES OF SUBCONSCIOUS BELIEFS
- I need alcohol to calm my social anxiety
- People dont find me interesting/funny/intelligent without alcohol
- Im too self-conscious to enjoy sex without alcohol
- I hate this task / I need a drink to do this
- I cant handle this situation without drinking
- It wont be fun without alcohol
- Im missing out if I dont drink
- Drinking will make this feel better
- I deserve a drink
When Does Drinking Become A Problem
For most adults, moderate alcohol use no more than two drinks a day for men and one for women and older people is relatively harmless. (A “drink” means 1.5 ounces of spirits, 5 ounces of wine, or 12 ounces of beer, all of which contain 0.5 ounces of alcohol.
Moderate use, however, lies at one end of a range that moves through alcohol abuse to alcohol dependence:
Alcohol abuse is a drinking pattern that results in significant and recurrent adverse consequences. Alcohol abusers may fail to fulfill major school, work, or family obligations. They may have drinking-related legal problems, such as repeated arrests for driving while intoxicated. They may have relationship problems related to their drinking.
People with alcoholism technically known as alcohol dependence have lost reliable control of their alcohol use. It doesn’t matter what kind of alcohol someone drinks or even how much: Alcohol-dependent people are often unable to stop drinking once they start. Alcohol dependence is characterized by tolerance and withdrawal symptoms if drinking is suddenly stopped. Withdrawal symptoms may include nausea, sweating, restlessness, irritability, tremors, hallucinations and convulsions.
Although severe alcohol problems get the most public attention, even mild to moderate problems cause substantial damage to individuals, their families and the community.
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What Causes Addictions
There are lots of reasons why addictions begin. In the case of drugs, alcohol and nicotine, these substances affect the way you feel, both physically and mentally. These feelings can be enjoyable and create a powerful urge to use the substances again.
Gambling may result in a similar mental “high” after a win, followed by a strong urge to try again and recreate that feeling. This can develop into a habit that becomes very hard to stop.
Being addicted to something means that not having it causes withdrawal symptoms, or a “come down”. Because this can be unpleasant, it’s easier to carry on having or doing what you crave, and so the cycle continues.
Often, an addiction gets out of control because you need more and more to satisfy a craving and achieve the “high”.
Urine And Blood Tests
There are reliable tests for the actual use of alcohol, one common test being that of blood alcohol content . These tests do not differentiate people with alcohol use disorders from people without however, long-term heavy drinking does have a few recognizable effects on the body, including:
With regard to alcoholism, BAC is useful to judge alcohol tolerance, which in turn is a sign of alcoholism. Electrolyte and acid-base abnormalities including hypokalemia, hypomagnesemia, hyponatremia, hyperuricemia, metabolic acidosis, and respiratory alkalosis are common in people with alcohol use disorders.
However, none of these blood tests for biological markers is as sensitive as screening questionnaires.
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Looking After Yourself & Your Family
That being said, you should always make sure that you are looking after yourself first and foremost, as doing so is going to mean that you are focusing on the right people at the right time. Yes, your addicted family member needs compassion and help, but you should not allow them to walk all over you, and you need to make sure that you are taking care of yourself as best as you can first and foremost. If you do that, you are going to be doing the right thing, no matter what else you might decide to do.
What Are The Signs
What is heavy drinking? For women, its having more than three drinks a day or seven a week. For men, it’s four or more per day or 14 a week. If you drink more than the daily or weekly limit, youre at risk.
That’s not the only way to tell if you or someone you care about needs help. There are some other red flags. You might:
- Say you have a problem or joke about alcoholism
- Not keep up with major responsibilities at home, work, or school
- Lose friendships or have relationship problems due to drinking, but you dont quit alcohol
- Have legal problems related to drinking, such as a DUI arrest
- Need alcohol to relax or feel confident
- Drink in the morning or when youre alone
- Get drunk when you dont intend to
- Forget what you did while drinking
- Deny drinking, hide alcohol, or get angry when confronted about drinking
- Cause loved ones to worry about or make excuses for your drinking
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