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SIGNS OF ALCOHOLISM
There are many different warning signs of alcoholism. Although most of these signs are easy to recognize, others might be a bit more difficult to spot. In the same way, the severity of your drinking may play a significant role in the warning signs that you exhibit. For instance, you could find yourself trying to mask your alcohol abuse by isolating yourself from others or drinking in private. This might make it challenging for your loved ones to realize that you have a problem and intervention to try and help you.
As a direct result, most people tend to overlook mild alcohol abuse and the occasional binge drinking. However, what might initially seem like a small problem could potentially become dangerous in the long term. This is why it is inadvisable to ignore these signs of alcoholism.
To ensure that you recover from your problem and stop drinking indefinitely, you should understand the basic warning signs that your drinking has turned into an active alcohol use disorder. This could potentially lead you to deduce that you need treatment.
Most people battling alcoholism do not fit the typical stereotype labeled on those with an alcohol use disorder. Therefore, you might think that your drinking is not problematic because you have never found yourself stranded or homeless, gotten a driving under the influence charge, or stolen money to fund your drinking habit. You might even have a stable job, a loving family, and a productive lifestyle. Al these factors could lead you to think that you cannot be an alcoholic.
However, you might not realize that alcoholism comes in many forms and progresses through a variety of stages. To this end, the typical stereotype you have in your mind of an alcoholic might not always be true for you.
This is why you need to learn about the signs of alcoholism - if only so that you can seek help before it is too late and you lose everything you have worked so hard for due to alcohol.
Essentially, alcoholism is usually the last stage of problem drinking and the most severe form of alcohol consumption. By definition, it describes a strong and uncontrollable desire to consume alcohol.
When you develop this problem, you might start placing alcohol above all your other responsibilities - including but not limited to your family, work, and school. With time, you might also build up a physical tolerance to alcohol and start experiencing intense and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms every time you stay for a couple of hours without drinking.
Also known as alcohol dependence, alcohol addiction, and alcohol use disorder, alcoholism is difficult to spot. What you should know, however, is that it is somewhat different from harmful drinking - which describes a pattern of occasional drinking that could potentially damage your health and wellness.
A good example of harmful drinking involves consuming too much alcohol while partying or risking getting into arguments, fights, and slipping or falling as a direct result. Over time, this pattern might develop into severe alcoholism - particularly if you turn it into a habit that happens regularly.
ALCOHOLISM, ALCOHOL ABUSE, AND CASUAL DRINKING
Unless you have personal, health, or religious restrictions, you might not think that there is anything wrong with drinking a couple of bottles of alcohol with friends - such as during dinner or on the party scene. This is described as casual drinking. However, it might eventually turn into a problem when you start abusing alcohol by consuming too much of it or too often than is usual.
Today, alcoholism and alcohol abuse are widely used interchangeably even though the terms describe different conditions. In particular, alcoholism refers to the dependence on and addiction to alcohol. When you have this condition, you will have a psychological or physical compulsion to drink.
Alcohol abuse, on the other hand, is a pattern of behavior characterized by the excessive consumption of alcohol over and above the negative consequences that such drinking causes.
Consider the following descriptions of instances of excessive drinking:
a) Binge Drinking
Binge drinking refers to drinking copious amounts of alcohol in a single sitting. Experts describe it as having more than 5 drinks in 2 hours (for men) or more than 4 drinks within the same time frame (for women).
b) Heavy Drinking
On the other hand, heavy drinking for men below the age of 65 refers to consuming 4 drinks daily or over 14 drinks weekly. For women (and men above the age of 65), it means having over 3 days daily and more than 7 drinks weekly.
WARNING SIGNS OF ALCOHOLISM
Although binge drinking or heavy drinking every once in a while might not seem like a problem to you, some behaviors could indicate that things have been getting serious. These behaviors are some of the signs of alcoholism and should point to the fact that the time has for you to get help.
But at what point does problem drinking turn into alcoholism? Essentially, there are some signs and symptoms that could mark you out as an alcoholic. These signs include:
- Being unable to stop drinking once you start
- Continuing to consume alcohol in spite of the problems it is causing to your productivity, family, finances, and health
- Drinking alone
- Drinking every time you feel stressed
- Drinking in secret, or hiding your drinking
- Driving while intoxicated
- Encountering problems with the law
- Experiencing intense cravings for alcohol
- Experiencing mood swings
- Feeling extremely irritable
- Feeling guilty about how much you drink
- Fighting with anyone who tries to criticize your drinking
- Finding that you are unable to control how much alcohol you have consumed
- Having an alcoholic drink every time you wake up in the morning
- Lack of regard for safety, both of yourself and of others
- Lack of remorse
- Losing interest in the activities that you once used to enjoy
- Low performance in school and at work or in school
- Mixing medications and other drugs with alcohol
- Neglecting responsibilities
- Not paying enough attention to your family
- Putting your life and the lives of others in danger while intoxicated
- Recurring criminal activities
- Regular fights and assaults
- Skipping commitments when you are intoxicated or hung over.
- Suffering intense withdrawal symptoms like anxiety and sweating when you stop drinking or reduce your normal dose of alcohol
- Taking risks
- Turning alcohol into a priority in your life, over and above all your other responsibilities at work, home, or school
Whether you have been struggling with an alcohol use disorder, it is essential that you inform yourself of the typical signs of alcoholism. You should also remember that you are not alone in your struggles.
Today, thousands of people from every walk of life fight alcoholism on a daily basis and some of them choose to get help before their problem turns severe and causes adverse consequences like injury, violence, incarceration, financial ruin, or even death.
To this end, if you realize that you are an alcoholic, the best thing you can do is check into an addiction treatment center. While there, you will receive the help you require to overcome your problem, withdraw from alcohol, and find full recovery. In the long run, it could potentially even allow you to lead a productive and satisfactory lifestyle.
SELF-ASSESSMENT FOR ALCOHOLISM
Apart from the signs of alcoholism we've listed above, you might get to a point where you feel that something is not right in your life. You may also start wondering whether you have a problem with alcohol.
The best way to tell that your excessive drinking has turned into an alcohol use disorder is by being completely honest and truthful with yourself. You should also consider using some screening tests to understand your drinking and find out if it has become a problem:
1. AUDIT Alcohol Assessment Quiz
WHO (or the World Health Organization) created the AUDIT alcohol assessment. It contains 10 multiple choice questions that you need to answer to find out if you are an alcoholic.
2. MAST Alcohol Assessment Quiz
Developed in the 1970s, the MAST alcohol assessment is designed to check if you have drinking problems, as well as determine just how serious and severe they are. Since it is among the oldest screening tests for alcoholism, you might find that there are many different variations of it.
3. CAGE Alcohol Assessment Quiz
Dr. John Ewing developed the CAGE alcohol test. Although it only has 4 questions, it has been found to be useful in helping 9 out of every 10 people discover if they are alcoholics.
As we mentioned above, alcoholism means that you have developed mental and/or physical dependence on alcoholic beverages. Therefore, if you regularly find yourself thinking about when you will drink next or if you have tried to reduce how much you drink to no avail, then it is highly likely that you might have developed this form of substance addiction.
In most cases, alcoholism might start once you build a tolerance to drinking. Since alcohol is classified as a mind-altering and intoxicating substances, the more you drink, the less susceptible your body will become to the effects of alcohol.
On the other hand, when you repeat this habit often enough, your body may get to a point where it expects you to drink so that it can function normally. Over time, this could lead you to experience AWS (or alcohol withdrawal syndrome) because your body will react when you stop your usual supply of alcohol.
Some of the symptoms of AWS are, therefore, classified as signs of alcoholism. The NLM (or the US National Library of Medicine) reports that these withdrawal symptoms include:
- Mood swings
- Not thinking clearly
It will typically take a couple of hours or days before these symptoms make themselves manifest. However, once they do, they will get worse over the next couple of days.
You should also know that withdrawal from alcohol might prove dangerous. The best way to move past these negative symptoms safely, therefore, is through a professional detoxification program.
In some situations, you might even experience severe alcohol withdrawal - a condition known as delirium tremens. When this happens, it is highly likely that you will suffer seizures, confusion, hallucinations, fever, and agitation. This is why it is highly recommended that you only try to treat your alcoholism with medical oversight, care, assistance, and monitoring.
TYPES OF ALCOHOLISM
When you imagine an alcoholic, you might picture any given stereotype that will not seem to resemble you. In reality, however, there are many different alcoholics out there. All these people display various signs of alcoholism and continue struggling with their addiction. What is more, they come from every background and age group.
- The Chronic Severe Subtype
- The Functional Subtype
- The Intermediate Familial Subtype
- The Young Adult Subtype
- The Young Antisocial Subtype
Alcoholism is now classified as a medical condition that affects both adults and children. However, it does not affect everyone in the same way. To this end, some people might only take a single drink and feel intoxicated. Others, however, may need to take more drinks to achieve the same presumably pleasurable effect.
Apart from the above signs of alcoholism, consuming alcohol excessively will come with various effects on your brain and body. These effects could potentially increase your risk of suffering a variety of health issues.
Luckily, there are many addiction treatment centers across the country where you can go for rehabilitation for your problem drinking. If you display any of the signs of alcoholism, therefore, you should consider checking into one of these facilities for an assessment before deciding on the right course of treatment you should follow.
Initially, you might be surprised to discover that you are more than a casual drinker and that you have a problem with alcohol. However, this should not worry you too much. With the right care and management, you should be able to overcome your condition and succeed in treatment.
Overall, it is crucial that you inform yourself of the typical signs of alcoholism. This way, you will have a reference point to check whenever you suspect that your drinking has become problematic, and seek treatment before it causes more trouble in your life.
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