Drinking alcohol is something many people are able to do without developing an addiction to it. However, you can easily develop an addiction to alcohol without realizing it. Alcoholism is a progressive chronic illness that affects millions of people. It not only affects the person with the problem but everyone around them. But how do you know if you have developed an addiction? While there is no cut and dry answer, there are certain things that signal an addiction to alcohol may be present.
Alcohol addiction can start out as a psychological dependence on alcohol. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. It induces a relaxed state and a loss of inhibitions. When you start to depend on alcohol in order to feel relaxed, it can gradually progress to a physical dependence.
Signs of an Alcohol Addiction
Physical dependence on alcohol occurs with chronic drinking. Neurotransmitters in the brain are affected by drinking alcohol. When alcohol use is chronic, these neurotransmitters no longer are produced on their own and the person needs to drink alcohol in order to function normally. This physical reliance on alcohol to feel normal happens over time. When your body has become physically dependent on alcohol, withdrawal happens and serious negative effects begin to occur in the absence of it.
Psychological Dependence Symptoms
If you continue to drink alcohol in spite of negative consequences associated with drinking, this is a sure sign of alcohol addiction. These consequences could be the loss of a job due to drinking, relationship and family fights, or legal issues that stem from drinking alcohol. People who have an addiction to alcohol tend to place drinking at a higher priority than all other things in their life. Being terminated from a job, having a significant other break up with you, or getting arrested for driving while intoxicated are all signals that drinking has gotten out of control. When drinking is continued despite these things happening, addiction has taken hold.
Lying about or hiding how much you are drinking is a warning sign of alcohol addiction. Usually, addicts begin to hide or lie about their alcohol consumption because they do not want to argue with their family or friends. Addicts also tend to be denial about their problem and rather than take steps to quit drinking, they may drink alone or in secret to avoid being confronted.
Alcohol addiction can have a severely negative effect on relationships. If you find that fights are more common when you have been drinking, an addiction may be in place. Significant others and close friends and family are often the first ones to notice a problem with drinking. Alcohol can make people say and do things that they normally would not do when they are sober. The people closest to you may notice a significant change in your behavior and react negatively. If you find that your close relationships are being affected by your alcohol consumption, you may need help to stop drinking.
If you find that even in social situations where everyone else is having one drink you are unable to stop after one drink, this is a warning signal. Normal drinkers can go out with friends and have one or two cocktails before calling it a night. For those with an alcohol addiction, there is a craving for more and more once drinking has commenced.
When alcohol addiction begins to take hold, it takes the top spot on the priority list. If you find that other responsibilities are being neglected like cleaning the house and taking care of the children, this signals an addiction. If you have been calling out of work more often because alcohol use has caused you to feel ill during the day, this can point towards an addiction. If you are a student and have skipped more classes than you usually do, this is a red flag as well.
Physical Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction
In addition to psychological signs of alcoholism, there are physical signals that point toward a major problem with alcohol. Blacking out on a regular basis is a red flag. Blacking out occurs when you drink so much that you lose the memory of what happened, yet you are able to talk and are conscious when this is occurring. When blackouts occur, it means you have had far too much alcohol to drink.
Tolerance to alcohol is another physical sign of the start of dependence. If you find that it takes more and more alcoholic drinks to achieve the same effect as it used to, this is tolerance. This means that your body is being exposed to alcohol on a regular basis and has adapted to it in order to tolerate it better.
If you have attempted to quit and experience withdrawal symptoms, this means you have developed an addiction to alcohol. Withdrawal symptoms occur because, over time, the body has grown so accustomed to a steady consumption of alcohol that it stops being able to function normally without it. Withdrawal is different than a hangover. Withdrawal symptoms occur due to the absence of alcohol, not because you have had too much to drink. Some symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Profuse sweating
- Tremors particularly in the hands
A sure sign of alcohol addiction is the desire to quit drinking, but not having the ability to do so on your own. Alcoholism is a treatable illness, but the vast majority of people with a problem need help to quit. There are many different forms of treatment available including 12 step support groups, individual therapy, group therapy, and intensive inpatient treatments. Alcohol addiction is a serious illness and should be treated as such. If dependence on alcohol is suspected, detoxing should never be attempted alone without consulting a trained addiction specialist. Alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous if you are not supervised and may need to occur in the safety of a detox facility.
If you or loved one needs help to quit drinking, call us today at 877 813-9235 to get started on the path to recovery.