Signs Of Alcoholism: How To Tell If Someone Is Addicted
It seems like there is always an occasion to have a drink. A dinner party with friends, a stressful week at work, or a relaxing afternoon in the sun are all events we commonly associate with having a beer or glass of wine. But how much alcohol is too much? Could one of these scenarios be signs of alcoholism?
With how normalized regularly drinking alcohol is, it can be difficult to tell if someone has alcohol addiction, or simply indulges on occasion. Its important to remember that alcohol addiction is not always obvious. Even people who suffer from an addiction to alcohol can seem happy and can function normally while actually suffering from depression, health issues, and problems in their marriage. By recognizing the signs of alcoholism, and reaching out for treatment, you or a loved one can be successful in overcoming alcohol addiction.
What Are The Long
Alcohol abuse can cause serious, unintentional injuries due to car crashes, falls, or burns. Alcohol-related injury can also be a result of firearms, sexual assault, or domestic abuse. Alcohol abuse takes a toll on your body and can also lead to serious long-term health problems. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism , alcohol abuse affects the following organs and bodily functions:
- The brain Alcohol changes the way you think and behave by disrupting communication pathways in the brain.
- The liver Fibrosis and Cirrhosis can be caused by heavy drinking.
- The immune system Drinking weakens your immune system and inhibits your bodys ability to fight off infections, leaving you more susceptible to disease.
- The heart Alcohol abuse can result in an irregular heartbeat, stroke or high blood pressure.
- The pancreas Inflammation of the pancreas can also be caused by heavy alcohol use, resulting in severe abdominal pain.
Other physical long-term effects of alcohol abuse include:
- Permanent brain damage
- Losing important social or recreational activities
When Does Alcohol Use Become Alcoholism
People who drink heavily or binge drink may find that their alcohol use has come to cause problems in their lives. These problems are a warning sign of alcohol use disorder or alcoholism, which SAMHSA reports affects at least 14.8 million people over the age of 12 in the United States.
If someone you know meets at least two of the following criteria, they may have an alcohol use disorder and need help. Treating alcohol use disorder requires managing a few different things, including detox, treating the underlying addiction and also offering aftercare and support for continued sober living.
- Unexplained shifts in personality or priorities
- Spending more money on alcohol than can be easily spared
- Stealing money or asking for money without explanation
- Possession of a false identification card
What else to look for:
- Finding that alcohol has gone missing or is frequently being replaced
- Finding that water has been added to bottles to replace missing alcohol
- Finding that mouthwash, cough syrup, hand sanitizer or other alcohol-containing products have gone missing or are frequently being replaced
- Finding excessive alcohol bottles in the trash or recycling
The first stage of someone quitting alcohol is detox and its important to make sure that people who drink heavily dont detox alone. The seizures that can occur during withdrawal can be severe enough to be fatal without medical supervision.
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They Lie Deny And Conceal
Some high-functioning addicts are particularly good at deceiving others about their drinking habits. But occasionally from time to time, the people closest to them will catch them lying or hiding their drinking behavior. Its important to pay attention to these times instead of dismissing them as misunderstandings.
What Are The Signs Of Alcoholism
The common physical manifestations of alcoholism are:
- Flushed aspect characterized by the reddening of the face and other skin areas.
- Uncontrollable shaking movement of the hands or trembling of other body parts.
- Reddish rashes on the skin or red blotches on the skin that show up when drinking alcohol.
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Physical Signs Of Drug Addiction
If someone misuses drugs or alcohol, they may exhibit numerous physical signs of drug abuse. Some of these signs may be readily apparent, while others are easily hidden or occur as gradual changes.
Signs of benzodiazepine abuse may include:
- Similar symptoms as alcohol intoxication, without the smell of alcohol on the breath
- Missing prescription pills
How Drug Use Starts
For some individuals, substance abuse begins when they start socially experimenting with various substances. This can be the case with drugs such as amphetamines, alcohol, marijuana and prescription drugs.
Opioid abuse can begin differently. People who become addicted to opioids are often prescribed prescription drugs, such as painkillers, often following something like an accident or surgery. They can then start taking higher doses of those prescription drugs, which can lead to abuse. They may also seek cheaper forms of opioids, such as heroin. Overall, 75% of heroin users report that the first opioid they took was a prescription drug.
When someone begins using drugs of any kind, they may start feeling as if they need larger and more frequent doses to get the same effects, even with something that started as social experimentation. This is called tolerance.
Drug use can start at any age. However, starting during childhood or adolescence is linked to an increased risk of dependence on the substance, where they feel like they need the drug to function normally.
Their Lives Revolve Around Drinking
Those who suffer from alcohol addiction prefer to have friends who drink and attend activities and events where alcohol is easily accessible. They may avoid sober activities, and mistrust or dislike anyone who doesnt drink. They may take a flask to places that dont serve alcohol, drink early in the morning, or stay drunk all day.
Physical Changes Indication Drug And Alcohol Abuse
If someone you live or work with no longer cares how they look or dress, it could indicate that they have an issue with drugs or alcohol. They may also have mental health issues that have spurred them to self-medicate. There are many reasons that someone could change their appearance but, taken into account with other signs of early drug addiction, its a common sign of substance use disorders.
Drugs and alcohol can replace other priorities quickly. Addiction comes before self-care and just about everything else. It may result in loss of appetite, weight loss or weight gain, and other signs that someone has stopped taking care of themselves.
Look for these physical signs that may indicate symptoms associated with drug and alcohol abuse:
- Dilated or pinpoint pupils
- Body odor and disheveled appearance
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Withdrawal: The 2nd Major Warning Sign
Do you need a drink to steady the shakes in the morning? Drinking to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms is a sign of alcoholism and a huge red flag. When you drink heavily, your body gets used to the alcohol and experiences withdrawal symptoms if its taken away.
Withdrawal symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
In severe cases, withdrawal from alcohol can also involve hallucinations, confusion, seizures, fever, and agitation. These symptoms can be dangerous, so talk to your doctor if you are a heavy drinker and want to quit.
The Most Common Characteristics Of Addiction
Some of the most common characteristics of addiction include:
1. The individual cannot stop taking the substanceOftentimes, such as with alcohol or drug dependence, a person has seriously attempted to give up their addiction at least once, though unsuccessfully.
2. Health problems do not stop their addictionThe person keeps taking the substance as usual, despite having developed illnesses connected to it. For example, an alcohol addict may keep drinking even after finding out they have a liver disease.
3. Giving up recreational and/or social activitiesAddiction can cause some people to give up or not become involved in activities. For example, an internet addict may choose not to go camping if they know they wont have internet access. Likewise, an alcoholic may avoid long trips where they know they will not have access to alcohol.
4. Keeping a steady supplyIndividuals who are addicted to a substance will always have enough of it around, regardless of the amount of money they have to ensure that they have a good supply readily available.
5. Saving stashesAddicted people tend to keep small stashes of their substance hidden away in various locations, such as throughout their house or in their car.
7. Excessive consumptionWith some addictions, like alcohol and certain drugs, an addict may consume it to excess. This can result in physical symptoms or blackouts, where they cannot remember anything for a certain amount of time.
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Experiencing Blackouts After Binge Drinking
This means that your loved one has had one too many. If there are several similar episodes, you can assume with certainty that he or she often engages in binge drinking. Binge drinking is a behavioral drinking problem, and its usually helpful when youre wondering how to spot a functioning addict. However, binge drinking can lead to alcohol poisoning. To be certain you know how to spot alcohol poisoning, you should look for symptoms like cold or clammy skin, hypothermia, vomiting, lack of physical coordination, and mental confusion or disorientation.
Previously And Continuously Trying And Failing To Quit Drinking
Whether its because they realize they have a drinking problem, or to prove a point to a worried loved one, some alcoholics attempt to quit drinking on their own. However, without professional help or treatment to counteract withdrawal symptoms, these individuals often relapse and start drinking again within a few months, weeks, or days of quitting.
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Find Out More About Alcohol Addiction And What You Can Do To Help Yourself Or Someone You Know
A 2021 poll by The Recovery Village found physical health , mental health , and relationships to be the most common negative impacts. Drinking also impacted peoples careers, parental abilities, finances, hygiene, and legal status.
It wont be an easy road ahead, but someday you will be very grateful for putting in the work.
At LifeWorks NW, we help people find the resources they need to learn more about their health concerns, and to get the help they need.
A note on language: while its still common to use the word alcoholic, at LifeWorks NW we shy away from it. Research shows that the term is associated with a strong negative bias, and our mission is to help people struggling with substance use with compassion and understanding. By using language that emphasizes a person is not their disease, we can help fight against the stigma that keeps so many people from seeking out treatment.
Connect with us today and talk to one of our supportive staff members. Were here to listen, and to help you get what you need.
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Elevated Mean Corpuscular Volume
MCV is the average concentration of hemoglobin in a red blood cell. After a month or two of excessive drinking, MCV levels rise. Elevated MCV is found in approximately 50 to 60 percent of chronic heavy drinkers. When people quit drinking, their MCV levels typically return to normal within two to four months. The combination of increased MCV levels and elevated GGT levels has a 90 percent sensitivity for detecting alcohol abuse, according to a study published in Current Psychiatry.
At the end of the day, the signs and symptoms of alcoholism may differ depending on thestage of alcoholism and thetype of alcoholic. But a good indicator of an alcohol addiction is when something is out of whack in your life, according to Dr. George Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Is your personal life deteriorating because of your drinking? Are people starting to shun you? If youre feeling generally miserable, thats a warning sign, Koob remarked in anarticle on the National Institutes of Healths website. You dont have to hit bottom. Youll save yourself a lot of damage socially, professionally and probably in your own body if you attend to an alcohol problem a lot earlier.
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Causes & Risk Factors Of Alcohol Addiction
The causes of alcohol abuse are diverse and complex, though researchers and clinicians agree that both genetic and environmental factors affect a persons chances of developing an alcohol use disorder. Below is an explanation of some causes and risk factors:
Genetic: People whose parents or siblings abuse alcohol are more likely to abuse alcohol as well. According to the NIAAA, about 50 percent of a persons risk of alcoholism can be attributed to genes.
Environmental: Environmental factors also affect a persons risk of developing an alcohol use disorder. People exposed to frequent use of alcohol, especially when friends or family use alcohol to cope with stress, are more likely to abuse it. Exposure to severe chronic stressors, such as abuse, violence, poverty, or unemployment, also increases a persons chance of alcohol abuse, as does exposure to trauma.
- Personal history of chronic stress or trauma
- Family history of mental illness or substance abuse
- Personal history of mental illness or substance abuse
- Being male, as males are more likely to abuse and become addicted to alcohol than are females
- Having inadequate coping skills
What Are The Levels Of The Drug Or Alcohol Addiction Process
The process of getting addicted has four distinct levels.
The first, pre-addiction, is the stage at which someone can choose whether or not to engage in addictive behaviors.
At this level, they are often unaware of the consequences that their decisions might have in the future. For example, they may consume drugs or alcohol without considering how it could affect them long-term.
The second level is active addiction, during which a person has begun to display symptoms of addiction, including compulsive behavior and adverse effects on physical and mental health.
Once they have entered this phase, it is often difficult for them to get out on their own.
During acute withdrawal, the third level of addiction, individuals experience physical and psychological responses as their body adjusts to its original biochemical state. It can include shaking, sweating, depression, insomnia, and cravings for alcohol or drugs.
Finally, there is post-addiction recoverythe stage in which individual works toward understanding their still-existing triggers and coping mechanisms to help prevent relapse. Effective treatments such as therapy and 12-step programs are designed to address each stage of addiction to enable people to go through each step smoothly with maximum support from loved ones and professionals.
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The Dangers Of Alcoholism
Alcohol abuse can lead to an array of issues, affecting both your personal and professional life. Prolonged drinking puts you at risk for developing serious health complications and can cause other potentially life-threatening consequences.
Denial is one of the main reasons why millions of people do not receive treatment for alcoholism. Some individuals will try to rationalize their drinking behaviors. For instance, you may blame other people or certain circumstances for your drinking. Rather than acknowledge the problems youve experienced from alcohol, you become defensive when someone mentions your excessive drinking pattern. By refusing to recognize the negative consequences of alcohol, youre preventing yourself from living a healthy, sober life.
Look At Rehab Centers
Convincing a person to go into rehab is challenging. However, it would help if you did your research. Rehab centers have professional counselors who can guide you about the recovery process. They have both personal accounts and experiences that will give you an idea of what behavior to expect. So youre not only never caught off guard, but you know what withdrawals look like. Looking for rehab centers in your area also makes it easy to take the person for treatment right away. You dont want to give an addict reasons to back out. You can always Google rehab centers for addicts to get the best possible match in your area. You also want to ensure the rehab center knows how to work with patients of different ages. A recovering teenage addict has different needs than a recovering adult.
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Uncommon Mood Swings Manifestation
Unexpected and unaccounted mood swings in a normally tempered person, or someone who doesnt suffer from mood swings might signal the beginning of the withdrawal symptoms. If a person displays alcohol withdrawal symptoms, it is plausible that he or she has been indulging in alcohol consumption for quite some time. Alcoholic thinking forces the person to obsess over trying to get drunk, which can lead to mood swings.
Signs Youre Addicted To Alcohol
May 17, 2022
Before we go into the 10 signs youre addicted to alcohol, its important to first understand what alcohol addiction is, and what causes alcoholism.
A person experiencing alcoholism or substance abuse disorder doesnt have control over when and how much alcohol they drink. This is typically tied with being habitually intoxicated, drinking daily and drinking more alcohol than most.
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Signs Someone Is Addicted To Alcohol: Who Is Someone
So if Americans consume that much alcohol, and alcohol does those things to your brain, why isnt everyone who drinks showing signs someone is addicted to alcohol? Good question. Obviously, not everyone who drinks is an alcoholic. The simple answer is that some brains are biologically and genetically more predisposed to addiction than others. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse , the spikes in those feel-good chemicals result in reinforcement to repeat the consumption of drugs and alcohol that produce those spikes, and as a person continues to use drugs, the brain adapts by reducing the ability of cells in the reward circuit to respond to it. This reduces the high that the person feels compared to the high they felt when first taking the drug an effect known as tolerance. They might take more of the drug to try and achieve the same high. These brain adaptations often lead to the person becoming less and less able to derive pleasure from other things they once enjoyed, like food, sex, or social activities.
Why do some people become addicted and some dont? A number of reasons, the NIDA continues:
Any consumption above moderate drinking may be considered problematic. What are those?