Signs of Alcohol Addiction
Alcoholism can be overwhelming. This is why recovery takes such tremendous effort.
Signs of Alcohol Addiction, What Qualifies You as an Alcoholic?, What Happens if You Drink Every Day?, Is Someone Who Drinks Every Night an Alcoholic?, What are the First Signs of Liver Damage from Alcohol?, What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Drinking?, What Drink Can Replace Alcohol?, Rehab Is Your Best Chance
Alcoholism or alcohol addiction is a serious condition that affects a lot of people around the world, including the US. It is characterized by the compulsive need to drink alcoholic beverages to the point where it is already harming the individual. An addicted person will keep drinking even if it is already affecting their health, their personal life, their career, their finances, and their relationships. Addiction keeps them hooked even when they are already suffering from its adverse effects.
Alcoholism can be overwhelming. This is why recovery takes such tremendous effort. They say it’s a lifelong road to lasting sobriety. But even though there is no specific cure for this condition, it can be treated. Alcoholic individuals can still live a long, sober, and fulfilling life. It starts with accepting the problem.
Realizing that you have an alcohol use disorder (AUD) and acknowledging the fact that you need help is the first step towards recovery. For some people, this is a very difficult obstacle to overcome. Some people don’t even realize that they have a drinking problem. Others are in denial about their condition.
Recognizing the signs of alcoholism can go a long way in helping someone with this type of problem. Here we will be taking a look at alcoholism and its warning signs.
Signs of Alcohol Addiction
Even though alcoholism has a different effect on each individual, you can still watch out for physical, mental, and behavioral signs of addiction. There are signs and symptoms that are more difficult to spot. But usually, the more signs you notice on someone, the higher the likelihood that they are struggling with alcoholism.
It is also important to take note of things like mild alcohol abuse because even that can turn into a more serious problem over time.
If the person is exhibiting symptoms of alcohol abuse or withdrawal, also take note of its severity. Those with severe alcohol use disorder may suffer from more serious adverse effects. Their behavior may change drastically. They may lie or become secretive because they are covering up their drinking habits. Some alcoholics isolate themselves from their loved ones out of shame. These behavioral changes may vary from one person to another, so stay on the lookout for anything noticeably different.
The alcoholic individual may struggle with short-term memory loss and temporary blackouts. They may also exhibit noticeable behavioral changes like irritability or mood swings. An alcoholic will find any excuse to drink. Some may drink in the middle of the day or even when they are alone. They will do so to manage stress or just to feel “normal”.
For an alcoholic, the drink may become more important than everything else in their life. They will prioritize drinking and begin to neglect their relationships and responsibilities. They will also lose interest in hobbies and activities that they used to enjoy.
An alcoholic may engage in risky behavior and participate in dangerous activities, eventually finding themselves in trouble with the law.
You may notice that your loved one is becoming more and more distant, which may be another indicator of an alcohol abuse problem. Choosing new friends and preferring to hang out with those who tolerate their behavior is another common sign of an alcohol use disorder.
The more warning signs you encounter, the more likely it is that your loved one is struggling with alcoholism.
What Qualifies You as an Alcoholic?
Alcohol use disorder, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), is when problematic drinking “becomes severe”. An alcoholic drinks not just because they enjoy it, but because they can’t function normally when they don’t. Perhaps it has gotten to a point where they can’t quit because of withdrawal effects. A person who is addicted to alcohol may not even keep track of how much they have consumed.
Addiction can have physical and mental health effects. The person’s drinking habits can also begin to affect other aspects of their life, such as their career or their relationships. They will keep drinking excessive amounts of alcohol at a time, and will binge drink on a regular basis.
What Happens if You Drink Every Day?
Alcoholism is a dangerous medical condition that may cause serious health complications and put a person’s life in danger. Cirrhosis, fatty liver disease, stroke, arrhythmias, and fibrosis are some of the more serious effects of alcohol addiction. It may also weaken the alcoholic individual’s immune system.
In addition to these physical effects, alcoholism also affects the individual’s mental health. Depression, anxiety, irritability, sleeping disorders, cravings, and panic attacks are among the potential effects of alcoholism.
Long term alcohol abuse may lead to some serious diseases like damage to internal organs including the liver, heart, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, and the vascular system. These may lead to more serious complications and other chronic diseases.
Here is a list of diseases that are commonly associated with alcoholism: anemia, cardiovascular disease, cirrhosis, gout, cancer, dementia, high blood pressure, seizures, nerve damage, and pancreatitis.
Is Someone Who Drinks Every Night an Alcoholic?
Some people drink every night and start wondering if they are an alcoholic. The answer is not necessarily. Drinking each night does not automatically make you an alcoholic because it does not equate to alcohol use according to the experts.
However, this is something you need to pay attention to as it may lead to a more serious problem if you don’t have it under control. This may be an early sign of alcohol dependence or alcoholism. In fact, drinking every night increases your risk of developing alcohol-related health problems.
What’s “too much” alcohol for one person may be tolerable for another. It depends on a number of factors. For some people, having one drink a day may be too much. For others it could be two to three drinks a day.
Adults of legal age who choose to drink should limit their intake to two drinks or fewer for men, and one drink or fewer per day for women. This is according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So if a person who drinks regularly at night drinks more frequently or fails to cut back on their drinking, this may be an early indicator of alcoholism. They may begin to rely on alcohol just to deal with stress or anxiety. This becomes an unhealthy habit and they eventually lose control over their alcohol consumption.
What are the First Signs of Liver Damage from Alcohol?
The potential dangers of alcoholism should be enough reason for you to convince your loved one to begin their journey to sobriety. Excessive alcohol intake can physically harm them. In fact, most people know that alcohol damages the liver. This vital organ takes much of the impact because it is in charge of breaking down alcohol.
When someone drinks, their liver breaks down alcohol along with other potentially toxic substances. It’s part of the body’s natural process of eliminating these unwanted substances. But because some people drink more alcohol than the liver can process effectively, it gets damaged. This eventually leads to inflammation or the accumulation of scar tissue.
Liver tissue is actually capable of regenerating. However, continued damage via excessive alcohol consumption can lead to a buildup of scar tissue. These scars take the place of healthy liver tissue. Eventually the liver’s ability to carry out its vital functions is impaired. When alcohol damages the liver, this is called alcohol-related liver disease.
Unfortunately, the early stages of liver damage caused by alcohol abuse often have no symptoms or warning signs. Chances are, you may not know that you’ve experienced liver damage before it gets worse.
In those cases where patients do get symptoms, they may experience nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, vomiting, and sudden weight loss unrelated to diet and physical activity. They may also feel discomfort in their abdomen, potentially caused by swelling of the liver.
What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Drinking?
If you are dependent on alcohol, and you quit drinking, you will go through alcohol withdrawal and experience withdrawal symptoms. This is the body’s reaction to the sudden absence of the substance. Symptoms are likely to begin within the first 24 hours of the last drink.
The withdrawal stage is uncomfortable—and in some cases—life-threatening. In rare cases, people in withdrawal develop delirium tremens. Other less common symptoms include seizures, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, and hallucinations.
This is why it is important to seek medical treatment. In rehab, the patient can go through withdrawal safely and while under the supervision of medical experts. As time goes on alcohol cravings will increase.
During the detox stage, the addicted person’s alcohol intake is gradually lowered while their withdrawal symptoms and cravings are managed. Medications are often used during this stage to make withdrawal more bearable.
Giving up alcohol has its benefits, and so this is worth pursuing. You can start feeling the benefits of being alcohol-free within a few weeks of quitting. That said, there is no specific “timeline” that dictates how an individual goes through dependence, withdrawal, and recovery. Again, addiction affects everyone differently.
The withdrawal symptoms may stop after three days to a week, although it is also possible for withdrawal to last for two or more weeks, particularly those who have been drinking excessively for a long time. Medical supervision is highly recommended for those with more severe cases of alcohol use disorder.
Eventually, the person begins to feel better. They will start to sleep better and feel more motivated. They will even become more energetic. They may notice that they are already sleeping a lot better even just a week after quitting alcohol. When you sleep properly, your brain function, memory, and mood regulation all improve.
As most people would know, alcohol also tends to dehydrate you. Quitting alcohol makes you more hydrated and less prone to headaches. It also has a positive effect on your skin: being hydrated gives you a more radiant and natural glow. This creates an overall positive impact on your health.
A lot of positive changes happen to the body, which makes the person feel good. This in turn leads to improved mental health. The extra motivation may push them to embrace healthy habits such as exercise, which will then replace drinking.
What Drink Can Replace Alcohol?
The journey to sobriety is a lifelong process. Aside from going through detox, the person needs to go through behavioral therapy and counseling to address the mental health effects of addiction as well as the underlying causes of their alcohol abuse.
In rehab, they will also learn health coping mechanisms that will help them maintain their sobriety even after they leave the rehab facility. The goal of rehab is not just to make the person sober again, but also to equip them with the knowledge and tools that they need to stay sober even while they are out in the real world.
When you are just getting started on your journey to sobriety, you may feel the need to replace alcohol with some other drink. This is perfectly normal.
Here are some common alternatives to help you with your cravings without exposing you to alcohol: soda and fresh lime, tea, kombucha, virgin Mojito, virgin bloody Mary, soda and fresh fruit, and berries in iced water. Pick your preference. You can also try various fruit shakes to keep you healthy. Or you could just stick with water.
Stay away from ‘diet’ sodas because they are full of sugar and may put you at risk of diabetes. But you may treat yourself to them every now and then.
Some people try non-alcoholic beer as an alternative. Just keep in mind that this may become a gateway to the alcoholic version, especially for non-beer drinkers.
If you or someone you love is struggling with an alcohol use disorder or alcoholism, look for an addiction treatment center near you and learn about the programs that they offer. Their journey to recovery starts today.
Rehab is Your Best Chance
Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take alcohol again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.