What Are the Warning Signs of Alcoholism? There exist various indicators to help pinpoint potential alcohol abuse. While many of these signs are noticeable, some may prove elusive. Furthermore, the gravity of alcohol abuse can influence the signs exhibited by an individual. For instance, some individuals endeavor to conceal their alcohol abuse by drinking in private and isolating themselves from others. This can make it difficult for family members or friends to intervene and assist their loved one.
Mild alcohol abuse can often go unnoticed. However, what might seem like a minor issue can become perilous over time. These initial warning signs should not be underestimated. Seeking treatment sooner rather than later can enable individuals to regain their ability to enjoy life to the fullest.
Physical Symptoms of Alcoholism
The outward indications of alcohol intoxication vary significantly depending on an individual’s blood alcohol level and their developed tolerance. Therefore, the signs of intoxication can range from reduced coordination to more severe and perilous symptoms, such as suppressed breathing, slowed heart rate, and lowered body temperature, which can be life-threatening.
While intoxication itself does not necessarily imply an alcohol problem, recurring intoxication could signal alcohol misuse or addiction. Alcohol misuse takes a toll on the brain and nearly every organ in the body, impairing the brain’s normal functioning, affecting bodily movements, and causing physical issues such as an inflamed stomach lining, leading to indigestion, nausea, and bloating.
Other physical signs of alcoholism may include:
- Unsteady gait
- Nystagmus (rapid, uncontrolled eye movements)
- Impaired attention or memory
- Memory blackouts
- Lack of coordination
- Tachycardia (rapid heart rate)
- Erectile dysfunction
- Slurred speech
- Excessive sleepiness
- Stupor or coma
Chronic alcohol use can lead to physical dependence on alcohol, where the brain and body become accustomed to having alcohol present and require it to function. If an individual suddenly stops drinking or significantly reduces their alcohol consumption, withdrawal symptoms may emerge. Signs of withdrawal can include anxiety, agitation, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, nightmares, tremors, hallucinations, and seizures. It is essential to note that an individual can be dependent on alcohol without having an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), but dependence can heighten the risk of developing an AUD.
Behavioral Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Misuse
As previously mentioned, alcohol affects how the brain functions, influencing an individual’s feelings and behaviors. This, in turn, can negatively impact relationships, work, and home life. Immediate behavioral effects can vary depending on the level of alcohol consumption, while other adverse effects can develop over time due to prolonged alcohol use.
Behavioral signs that may indicate alcohol misuse can include:
- Impaired judgment
- Inappropriate sexual behavior
- Mood changes
- Poor social functioning
- Problems with driving or operating machinery
- Suicidal behavior
- Use of other substances (such as cannabis, cocaine, heroin, or sedatives)
- Neglecting personal care
- Frequent falls or accidents
- Repeated absences from work
Several screening tools can assist in determining whether someone has alcoholism. One of these tools is the CAGE questionnaire, designed to gauge the severity of a drinking problem. If an individual answers “yes” to two or more CAGE questions, seeking professional medical assistance is recommended. The four CAGE screening questions are:
- Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?
- Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
- Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?
- Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get over a hangover?
Medical professionals may also use questions from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to diagnose alcohol abuse properly. These questions should be based on the past year of alcohol use and include inquiries about whether:
- You continued to drink despite it making you feel depressed or anxious or contributing to another health problem.
- You ended up drinking much more than you intended on several occasions.
- You lost interest in other activities and hobbies after starting to drink.
- You experienced symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal.
- You felt a strong urge or craving to consume alcohol.
- You engaged in situations while drinking that increased the risk of harming yourself or others (e.g., drinking and driving).
- You encountered legal issues due to alcohol-related problems.
The CAGE questionnaire is a brief assessment that can help determine if there’s a problem with alcohol. Experiencing negative consequences in just one area of your life, regardless of the frequency or quantity of your drinking, is cause for concern and suggests the need for professional help.
The Dangers of Alcoholism
Alcohol abuse can lead to a multitude of issues, affecting both personal and professional life. Many individuals in denial attempt to rationalize their drinking behaviors by blaming external factors or circumstances. They may become defensive when confronted with the negative consequences of their alcohol consumption. Recognizing these consequences is essential for embarking on a path to a healthier, sober life.
Treatment at Hathaway Recovery for Alcoholism
Overcoming alcoholism should be undertaken under the care of medical professionals in a specialized treatment facility. Attempting to self-treat can result in more harm than good, especially during the detox phase, which can entail highly uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms best managed in a rehabilitation program.
At Hathaway Recovery, our team is here to support you on your journey to recovery. We understand the challenges you’ve faced due to alcohol addiction and are committed to helping you heal. Please do not hesitate to contact Hathaway Recovery’s Admissions Department with any questions or if you are ready to take the first step toward recovery. We respect your privacy and maintain strict confidentiality for all the information you provide.
If you are struggling with alcohol addiction, consider reaching out to us today. Our admissions specialists are ready to answer your questions and connect you with the support you need to start your journey to recovery. Call us at (909) 971-3333 to take the first step toward a more fulfilling life.
Long-term recovery is a process that requires a commitment to sobriety and personal growth. It is about embracing new opportunities and discovering a different way of life. Do not miss the chance to change your life. Call today to begin your journey to recovery and growth. We will equip you with the tools and support needed to lead a fulfilling, substance-free lifestyle.