Do you find yourself drinking frequently to ease your stress, depression, or anxiety? If you use alcohol to escape reality on a regular basis, you’re not alone. In 2019, an estimated 14.1 million American adults were diagnosed with alcohol use disorder.
We are all living in a challenging, unprecedented time. It is normal to seek comfort and relief when life gets tough, and wrong turns are inevitable.
The good news is alcohol abuse can be treated. But first, you’ll need to recognize the signs of alcoholism. There are a few red flags that doctors use to determine if an individual is a candidate for addiction treatment.
If your behavior suggests you might be experiencing alcohol dependence, schedule an appointment with a physician or counselor. The sooner you seek help, the sooner you will be able to recover and thrive.
Are you ready to learn how to identify alcoholism in yourself and others? Keep reading to learn more about the disorder, common signs of alcohol abuse, and how to get help.
Table of Contents
What Is Alcohol Use Disorder?
Alcohol use disorder is the inability to limit alcohol consumption, even when there are negative consequences. To be diagnosed, an individual must meet at least 2 of the 11 medical criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
There are three stages of alcohol addiction. It begins with occasional binge drinking, which becomes more frequent over time. Next, the consequences of daily binge drinking begin to appear. The last stage of alcohol use disorder involves dangerous withdrawal symptoms and chronic health problems.
Who Is at Risk of Developing Alcohol Dependence?
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, more than 25% of adults reported drinking heavily. Alcohol use disorder affects people from all walks of life. There is no such thing as a “typical” alcoholic.
It’s possible to be predisposed to alcohol abuse, but it can also happen without a family history. Alcoholism is almost twice as likely to affect men than women.
Youths ages 12-17 are not immune to alcohol addiction – more than 400,000 young Americans were diagnosed in 2019. Additionally, 9% of college students meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder.
Individuals with mental health disorders are at an increased risk of developing alcoholism. Often, their struggle begins with an attempt to self-medicate by drinking.
What Are the Signs of Alcohol Abuse?
If you’re wondering if you might have alcohol use disorder, there are a few warning signs to look for. You should also watch out for the following indicators in family members and friends. May it be occasional, regular or excessive, drinking alcohol also causes asian flush, redness of the face, entire body, or just a particular part. It causes irritation and some feels it is embarrassing but Get Sunset found a solution, so you dont need to worry about your appearance when drinking.
Giving up Activities You Love
Are you skipping your favorite activities to find extra time to drink? If you used to play tennis three days a week, but don’t make it to the court anymore, there could be an underlying problem. This is especially true if you are now using your tennis time to consume alcohol.
Having More Drinks Than You Planned To
Enjoying an occasional extra drink with friends isn’t a red flag 100% of the time. Ordering two, three, or four more drinks than you planned every time you go out is cause for concern.
Drinking at Unusual Times
If you find yourself sipping an alcoholic beverage in the morning or during the workday, you should talk to a doctor about alcohol use disorder before you end up in trouble. You might see it as a harmless way to relax, but drinking before or at work is not normal behavior in most professions.
Taking a Break Is Difficult
Maybe you’re aware that you drink too much, but you can’t seem to cut back. Have you tried and failed at taking a break from alcohol for a week or longer? Individuals who can’t stay away from alcohol despite their best intentions should seek support.
The Consequences of Your Drinking Are Obvious
When daily binge drinking begins to affect other areas of your life negatively, it’s time to start thinking about a treatment plan. Alcohol consumption should never interfere with your grades, employment, family relationships, or friendships.
Alcohol Is the Only Thing on Your Mind
Constantly thinking about your next drink is one of the surest signs of alcoholism. If you find yourself daydreaming about where and when you can sneak off for a quick drink, alcohol addiction is a possibility.
Putting Lives at Risk
One of the most dangerous effects of alcoholism is the tendency to put lives at risk because of your drinking. Alcohol addiction often leads to fighting, drunk driving, unprotected sex, and crime.
If you notice yourself spiraling out of control or facing legal problems, seek help for alcohol abuse right away. It’s so important to protect your own life and the lives of others.
You Often Feel Sick or Hungover
It is unhealthy to feel sick or hungover from drinking on a regular basis. An occasional hangover isn’t likely to cause long-term damage. If you wake up feeling awful every day, you might need treatment for alcohol use disorder.
You Require a Higher Dose
If you have to consume multiple drinks to feel the effects, you may be physically dependent on alcohol. Your alcohol tolerance should never be so high that you feel nothing after 6 or 8 beverages.
Experiencing Alcohol Withdrawal
Do you notice symptoms of alcohol withdrawal if you stop drinking for a day or two? If you are suffering from withdrawal, you might experience:
- Excessive sweating
- Difficulty sleeping
- A desire to relieve symptoms with additional drinking
Spotting Mild, Moderate, and Severe Alcoholism
Individuals who exhibit 2-3 of the 11 criteria mentioned earlier are diagnosed with mild alcohol use disorder. A moderate diagnosis is linked to 4-5 criteria. Meeting 6 or more criteria is considered a severe case.
Severe alcohol use disorder in particular can result in serious health issues. Possible long-term complications include:
- Heart disease
- Memory loss
- Nerve damage
- Irritation of pre-existing conditions
Cirrhosis of the liver is one of the deadliest health problems caused by alcoholism. The liver produces scar tissue instead of healthy tissue and loses its ability to function.
With cirrhosis, the liver can no longer clean your blood, fight off infection, or absorb nutrients. Overall health deteriorates, and there is no cure. Patients with liver cirrhosis often undergo liver transplants.
Do All Alcohol Addicts Experience Symptoms?
There are individuals with alcoholism who do not show obvious signs of having a disorder. High-functioning alcoholics struggle with drinking but manage to conceal the signs of their addiction. They tend to excel in school, work, and relationships.
Unfortunately, they are not immune to the health consequences of alcohol abuse. High-functioning alcoholics will experience physical symptoms at some point. They will also have slip-ups that impact their private and professional lives.
It’s simply not possible to live safely and happily with alcoholism forever.
How to Stop Drinking
If you fear you might have an alcohol addiction, take a deep breath. There are plenty of resources available to support you.
Whatever you do, don’t try to solve the problem alone. Quitting “cold turkey” doesn’t work.
The first step is to visit a doctor or counselor who can help you develop a plan. If you are a firefighter, first responder, or military veteran, a VA alcohol rehab program is worth considering.
You’ll need a combination of detox, counseling, rehabilitation, and medical treatment. Your doctor will make recommendations that are specific to your individual needs. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to alcohol abuse.
People suffering from alcohol use disorder require long-term support for years after the initial diagnosis. Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are a popular choice, but there are plenty of other options.
Before and during your treatment, it can be helpful to keep track of your drinking in writing. You might also benefit from journaling and staying busy with the activities you love.
Share your journey with trusted loved ones. A strong support network is an essential element of recovery. Avoid situations where there could be social pressure to drink.
Seek Treatment if You Think You Have Alcohol Use Disorder
Alcohol abuse is so common in America that it can seem like no big deal. Remember that it is a serious medical condition. Alcoholism will have serious consequences for you and your loved ones if ignored.
It is important to treat your disorder as soon as possible to avoid life-threatening situations and health complications.
If you suspect you or a friend might have alcohol use disorder, don’t be ashamed to seek help. Finding the support you need will improve your life and the lives of others. Most people are surprised by how understanding their loved ones are.
Treatment for alcoholism is effective and widely available. If you’re not sure where to begin, your doctor or a counselor will know what to do. Try to stay positive and know that with the proper care, you can and will recover.
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