We all know what alcoholism is, and how it ravages mind and body alike. Actually seeing the signs of alcoholism can be difficult, though. Some individuals have a hard time seeing the line between social drinking and true alcohol dependency. And as far as friends and loved ones are concerned, alcoholics can be so secretive and covert that identifying the warning signs is challenging.
What Causes Alcoholism?
To further confound matters, the true causes of alcoholism can be twisted and muddy. That is, there is seldom one single factor; usually, it is several different factors intertwined. Those factors may be genetic, social or emotional. Family history plays a role. Certain ethnic groups have a higher risk for alcoholism than others. And those who have co-occurring conditions, such as depression and bi-polar disorder, also have a higher tendency toward alcoholism.
Symptoms and Signs of Alcoholism
Even so, there are ways to assess your own drinking to determine whether you have a problem with alcohol abuse; likewise, there are ways to determine whether your friend or family member is abusing alcohol.
The simplest test is this: If your drinking is causing problems in your life, you have a drinking problem—plain and simple. That doesn’t necessarily mean you are an alcoholic, but it does mean you should seek help from an alcohol recovery center.
More specifically, some warning signs of alcohol abuse include:
Bad Decision Making
- Routinely shirking your personal, professional and family responsibilities because of your drinking.
- Using alcohol in situations where it is physically dangerous to do so—i.e., when driving or operating industrial machinery.
- Encountering legal problems because of drinking—driving under the influence, drunk and disorderly conduct, etc.
- Encountering relationship problems because of your alcohol use—but continuing to drink just as much.
- Drinking as a way to self-medicate or to alleviate your feelings of melancholy or depression.
Warning Signs of Alcoholism
These are all telltale signs of an alcohol problem—but how do you know when you have full-fledged alcoholism?
Again, there are some warning signs to watch out for. Some of these include:
- Tolerance: If you have to drink copious amounts of alcohol—a lot more than you used to—just to get a buzz, that suggests a potential problem with alcoholism, especially when married with any of the other symptoms that follow.
- Withdrawal: If your body requires you to drink throughout the day, to quell shivers and shakes. Some other signs of withdrawal include sweating, nausea, anxiety, depression, headaches and fatigue when you go very long without a drink.
- Lost control: If you routinely drink more than you want or plan to, and find yourself unable to scale back.
- Lost energy: If alcohol seems to consume a high percentage of your focus and your energy, then—again—you may have a real problem with alcoholism.
Recovery for Alcoholism
The good news for those struggling with alcoholism is that hope and healing are always possible. Nobody is so far gone that recovery is impossible. However, to get the help you need, you first have to admit that you have a problem. The biggest hindrance to recovery is denial—blaming your problems on someone else or dramatically underestimating the hold alcohol has on you.
Denial is a dead end, though. The only way to find hope is to check into a rehabilitation program. Generally, this starts with detox. Start down your own road to recovery by contacting the New Start Recovery team today.