Signs & Symptoms
Alcohol addiction affects many aspects of a person’s life, from the financial to the physical, the emotional to the familial. An addiction will poison a patient’s life until a strong support system is needed to help the patient recover.
Sometimes, it can be up to this group to recognize the signs of addiction in a loved one. They may be obvious or subtle but they are often as such:
- Neglecting responsibility – School, work, relationships and more can be affected by the compulsion to drink and the consequences of excessive drinking. An alcoholic may get drunk at all times of the day, showing up to class or a shift while intoxicated. Sick days will also skyrocket. Grades can drop. Relationships can fall apart as the drinker would rather imbibe than socialize. Even if they do drink around others, company may feel uncomfortable and unwilling to spend more time with the addict
- Drinking when illegal and/or dangerous – The drinker could feel so attached to the habit they would continue even before or during driving, flying or operating other heavy machinery. This can endanger the lives of themselves or others. The legal and financial ramifications are also steep. DUIs are considered serious crimes and can result in steep fines, loss of licenses and even jail time
- Drinking as a consistent source of self-medication – It’s common for some people to drink sometimes to wind down. However, if it’s not possible to feel relaxed and happy without having some drinks first, there may be a problem. Reaching for the bottle after every stressful event isn’t healthy. There must be coping mechanisms for dealing with something while sober
- Tolerance – If it takes more and more consumption to achieve the same level of intoxication then it’s likely the patient is drinking more than they should. The body is adjusting to the substance it is taking in, heightening the individual’s tolerance for alcohol
- Inability or difficulty stopping – Without drinking, if the individual is experiencing nausea, shaky hands or irritability, then the body has built a dependence on the drug. At this point, rehabilitation may be necessary
- Denial – Especially true if the person lashes out defensively when confronted with his or her problem. It’s likely they feel shame and don’t want to admit to their problem
An important aspect of recognizing, preventing and treating alcohol addiction is knowing the myths. These falsehoods can be used to justify further drinking or make someone feel “invincible” to addiction, which is still believed to only happen to a select few. However, this is not the case. There are many signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse:
- “I can stop drinking whenever I want to” – While this can be true for some, addiction can create mental and physical burdens that can become too much for a person to handle on their own
- “No one has the right to tell me to stop” – It’s likely the addiction is hurting the drinker the most. However, most addicts have loved ones whom they are responsible for in some way. Jobs need to be done and children need to be looked after
- “I don’t drink every day. I only have wine” – It doesn’t matter if the drinking is every day or every weekend. Beer, wine, liquor and any other alcoholic beverage can lead to alcoholism. Even if an individual is only drinking every other day, it can still be an addiction if it is disrupting other areas of life in the ways described above
- “I’m not an alcoholic because I have work/school/relationships” – Just because the addict is holding down his or her job and engaging with others doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem. Alcoholism can easily catch up with a person. Even if it doesn’t in some catastrophic way, it’s likely the drinker could be doing better than they already are. Drinking costs money, time and health. No one is at their peak when intoxicated
- “This is not a ‘real’ addiction” – Heroin, cocaine and other affiliated drugs are notably addictive substances, but make no mistake, alcohol addiction is a proven problem both anecdotally and scientifically
Alcohol addiction has major effects difficult to ignore by the addict’s loved ones. This is why it’s important to reach out for help when an addict needs an intervention. The Texas Addiction Helpline is a valuable resource for the addict and their family trying to find a sober, well-adjusted life once again.