Alcoholism: Signs of Addiction
Realizing you have a problem is the first step to conquering it. But with addiction often comes denial. No one wants to look in the mirror and see their flaws—but alcoholism is a disease that can be treated. If you or a loved one are worried that your drinking is out of control, ruling your life, or causing you to lose what is important to you, it’s time to seek help. Sometimes we miss the red flags when they go by in a blur, so take a minute, and with a bit of introspection, you may realize that youare battling addiction—and you are worth saving.
How to Spot an Alcohol Addiction
You may have started out as a social drinker, but you found that you enjoyed that feeling and wanted it back whenever you started to feel anxiety, fear, depression, or loneliness.
Some of the warning signs that your drinking is out of control:
- You are drinking more frequently, binge drinking, and drinking whatever you can get your hands on.
- Missing days at school or work because you have a hangover or are too drunk to do your job is a red flag.
- Just because you are still going to work during the day and keeping up with responsibilities doesn’t mean you aren’t an alcoholic. There are high-functioning alcoholics who manage to get through the day, but it can all too easily catch up with you unexpectedly.
- Your performance in things you used to excel in is starting to decline.
- Your passions in life—sports or hobbies or something that drives you—are taking a back seat to your drinking.
- You are drinking alone more often.
- Friends and family are pointing out that you are drinking too much, so you attempt to hide your drinking from them.
- You blame your drinking on events and other people—an argument with a spouse, a boss who is on your back.
- You’ve found a new group of people to hang out with who like to drink.
- Self-medicating with alcohol as a way to reduce stress or fight off other negative emotions or physical pain is also a sign you need help.
- You are getting behind the wheel when you shouldn’t—when you are impaired by alcohol.
Take this 10 question test to give yourself more insight into your drinking.
Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol takes hold like any other addictive substance, and like those other drugs, there are withdrawal symptoms when you stop. The emotional and physical symptoms of alcohol use and withdrawal are intense, just like those of illegal drug use. If you think you or a loved one has an addiction to alcohol, watch for these symptoms:
- Your body builds up a tolerance and you need more alcohol to get the same pleasurable feelings, but soon that pleasure just becomes a craving and a need.
- You regularly exhibit these typical signs of intoxication: slurred speech, incoordination, loquaciousness, erratic behavior, loss of inhibitions.
- When a person stops drinking, even for a short time, they will exhibit withdrawal symptoms. How soon a person goes into withdrawal depends on the extent of their drinking, but symptoms can exhibit within hours of going without a drink. If someone has the shakes or trembling in the morning, is jumpy and anxious, they probably need a drink. This is a major warning sign.
- Withdrawal from alcohol also causes nausea, vomiting, irritability, insomnia, depression, headaches, lack of appetite, and a general sick or flu-like feeling.
- Those going through detox can even experience hallucinations, seizures, confusion, and fever.
Recovery from Alcoholism
The first step to sobriety is realizing you have a problem and that it is hurting you and others. We accept drinking as a social lubricant, and it’s difficult to stay away from a substance that is legal and all around us. When you have a problem with addiction, it’s important to surround yourself with a group of people who are also committed to a sober life.
Start by getting the alcohol out of your system. A medically supervised detox is the safest way to do this, in a treatment program that also provides counseling for you and your family. You may want to stay in that place where you can feel safe and cared for while you work on uncovering the reasons behind your drinking. This will be a lifelong movement of change. Consider joining a 12-step peer support group after treatment. Whatever help you reach out for, realize that there are thousands ofpeople going through the same experience, and many of them are there for you. There is hope, and there will be a time you wake up in the morning and think about your new life and the possibilities of the day free of the blur of the bottle.