Alcoholism Signs, alcoholism is the long-term and excessive use of alcohol that results in physical, emotional, and social consequences.
It is marked by heavy drinking, a lack of control over drinking, drinking more and more to achieve the same physical effects, and problems with work and other aspects of life due to drinking.
Alcohol use disorder, a medical diagnosis, is another name for alcoholism.
WHAT CAUSES ALCOHOLISM?
Alcohol is an addictive substance that changes brain chemistry in a way that can lead to misuse. Some people are more likely to abuse alcohol than others.
Genetics, environmental influences, and social factors can all play a part in causing the alcoholism.
People whose parents or other close family members abuse alcohol are more likely to do so themselves, in part because of genes passed down to them or behaviors they observed at home.
Having friends who regularly abuse alcohol can also lead to overuse. Some people drink large quantities of alcohol to numb painful or difficult emotions.
Regular or excessive use can acclimate your body and brain to the effects of alcohol, to the point where its use becomes habitual.
You are also more likely to abuse alcohol if you:
- started drinking at a young age
- have a mental health condition such as depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia
- lived through a trauma such as assault or sexual abuse
None of these factors destines you to become an alcoholic. They increase your risk.
WHAT ARE THE ALCOHOLISM SIGNS?
Alcoholism Signs are:
- difficulty handling the amount of alcohol you drink
- withdrawal symptoms like nausea, shaking or sweating when you stop drinking
- a strong urge to drink, or a craving for alcohol
- a desire to stop drinking, but an inability to make it so
- missing school, work, or time with family and friends because of drinking
- needing increasing amounts of alcohol to produce the same physical effects
When you consume large amounts of alcohol and then suddenly stop, you can go through withdrawal. Symptoms include:
- nausea and vomiting
- trouble sleeping
- rapid heartbeat
- hallucinations—seeing or hearing things that aren’t real
- agitation and anxiety
RISKS OF ALCOHOL ABUSE
Long-term heavy drinking can lead to several complications. In large quantities, alcohol damages organs and tissues like the liver, kidneys, and heart.
The liver can become progressively scarred to the point where it no longer functions effectively—a condition called cirrhosis.
Excessive alcohol use prevents your body from properly absorbing vitamins and minerals, leading to nutritional deficiencies.
Hard-drinking has been linked to an increased risk for several different types of cancer, including cancers of the colon, breast, esophagus, and liver.
And, it causes nervous system damage that can lead to both short-term and long-term memory loss.
The physical effects of alcoholism can be so severe that they can eventually lead to death if left untreated.
The repercussions of drinking can extend to your family members and friends, leading to strained relationships or divorce.
Drinking during pregnancy can cause a collection of physical and developmental problems in the unborn baby, called fetal alcohol syndrome. It can also lead to miscarriage.
Alcohol impairs functions like balance and judgment, increasing the risk of accidents behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.
Individuals who drink excessively are more prone to engage in risky activities like having unsafe sex or committing crimes.
They are also at greater risk for legal and financial problems.
WHEN TO GET HELP WHEN NOTICE ALCOHOLISM SIGNS
It can be difficult for people who struggle with alcoholism to realize they have a problem. Some people are unable to see how severely alcohol impacts their life.
If you think you might be drinking too much, or your friends and family have told you they are worried about your drinking, consider seeking help.
A visit with your primary care provider is a good place to start. The doctor will first ask questions about your drinking habits.
If you’ve had trouble coming to terms with your alcohol use, the doctor might call in your friends and family to answer questions on your behalf.
The exam can include a psychological evaluation and lab tests to look for signs of physical damage related to drinking.
Once the doctor has determined the extent of the problem, he or she will create a treatment plan to help control your alcohol use and manage any health problems related to your drinking.
TREATMENTS FOR ALCOHOLISM
Treatments can vary based on an individual’s patterns of alcohol use and the severity of the problem.
Alcohol abuse can be treated in many different settings, from a therapist’s office to an inpatient rehabilitation facility.
People who struggle to give up alcohol may need to be admitted to a rehabilitation center.
In rehab, doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel will help them detoxify or cleanse their bodies of alcohol over a duration of days or weeks.
This process involves careful supervision and treatments to prevent withdrawal symptoms.
Three prescription medications are available to help reduce the urge to drink:
- Acamprosate (Campral) helps you stay off alcohol long-term.
- Disulfiram (Antabuse) causes unpleasant symptoms like nausea to discourage you from drinking.
- Naltrexone (ReVia, Vivitrol) helps reduce the urge to drink.
Therapy is an important part of treatment for alcoholism. A mental health specialist like a psychologist or psychiatrist can help you change the behaviors that lead to drinking and teach you healthier ways to cope with your problems.
This type of treatment is called cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Also, getting therapy for underlying psychological issues such as depression or bipolar disorder can prevent you from relapsing and returning to alcohol in the future. I
f alcohol use has damaged relationships with your partner or other family members, marital and family counseling can help heal those bonds.
Some people will need to remain in therapy for several months or years to recover their alcohol dependence fully.
Having a solid support system may help you reduce or eliminate your reliance on alcohol. You can lean on friends or family members for help or join a support group for people who are dealing with alcoholism.
One of the most prevalent support groups includes a 12-step program like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
In AA, you are surrounded by a group of peers who support you through the multi-step process of reducing your alcohol dependence.
If you think you have an issue with alcoholism and show Alcoholism Signs, help is available from the (SAMHSA) U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline 1-800-662-4357.