The Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism

Understanding the basics of Alcoholism is vital to being able to help those struggling with the disease. The first step is being able to recognize the signs.

Behavioral Signs of Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a complex and chronic disease, and one of the first things it does is create changes in the body and brain that have considerable effects on behavior. Many of the common warning signs of alcoholism are often behavioral signs, and they are some of the most easily noticed as well. Below are some of the most frequently seen behavioral signs of alcoholism.

Risky Behavior

Those who are struggling with alcohol abuse will often engage in risky behavior while drinking or while under the influence of alcohol. This risky-taking behavior can have incredibly severe consequences depending on the type of activity the user engages in and whether or not the risk inherent in that activity is realized. Some examples of risky behavior include having unprotected sex with strangers, as well as drunk driving.

Putting Drinking First

One solid indication that someone has developed a drinking problem and potentially an alcohol use disorder is when they begin to prioritize drinking over other things. This includes hobbies and activities, school, employment, and even family. When you see someone spending more and more time getting alcohol, drinking, and recovering from drinking, there is a good chance that they have developed dependence.

Reduction In Control

Someone going out for “just one or two drinks” that end up drinking far more than intended may have developed a drinking problem. Another related sign is if someone drinks often and has expressed a desire to cut down or quit but has been unable to do so alone.

Drinking Despite Negative Consequences

Another significant change in behavior is continuing to drink even in the face of negative consequences. This can mean being late to or missing work, developing alcohol-related problems at home, or missing school due to drinking but continuing to drink anyway.

Psychological Signs of Alcoholism

Many signs of alcohol addiction only manifest in the mind of the individual struggling with addiction. These signs can often be seen within minutes of the alcohol entering the user’s bloodstream. 

Some of these psychological signs of alcoholism include:

  • Mood swings or general emotional instability
  • Signs of panic or anxiety
  • Memory lapses
  • Repeating themselves often
  • Diminished critical thinking
  • Poor judgment
  • Sleep cycle disruption, including insomnia
  • Depression
  • Lower attention span
  • Cognitive problems

Physical Signs of Alcoholism

In many cases of alcohol use disorder that have been ongoing for some time, the user will begin to develop a tolerance and a physical dependence on alcohol. This leads to the inevitable onset of alcohol withdrawal symptoms when alcohol is not consumed or when the alcohol in the body has dropped below a particular threshold. 

Some of the signs of alcohol dependence that may indicate help is needed include:

  • Blacking out or losing memory of where you were and what happened while drinking
  • Headaches, particularly after not drinking for 12+ hours
  • Problems sleeping and general sleep cycle disruption
  • Erectile dysfunction and general loss of libido
  • Changes in appetite
  • GI issues, including diarrhea, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, bloating, bloody vomit
  • Numbness, tingling, or even burning sensations in the fingers, arms, toes, feet, or legs
  • Significant reduction in coordination
  • Shaking or tremors

Additionally, while many of the previous physical signs may be present, the user may not actually show signs. Many physical signs can be easily and readily seen. 

Here are some of the most visible signs that might be seen in someone suffering from alcoholism:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Broken capillaries on the face, particularly on the nose often result in large red patches with small red veins running through them
  • Yellowish appearance due to alcohol-induced liver damage and the resulting jaundice
  • Increased reddening of the hands and palms
  • Flushed appearance
  • Notable changes in weight, either gaining or losing
  • Unsteady gait, poor coordination
  • Consistently deteriorating physical appearance due to malnourishment and substandard personal hygiene

Early Signs of Alcoholism

The early signs of alcoholism can be relatively simple to spot since they are often relatively obvious compared to others. 

Here are some signs of alcoholism:

  • Growing legal problems, including crimes unrelated to drugs such as domestic charges or assault
  • Showing up drunk at work, school, meetings, and even family functions under the influence
  • Becoming highly defensive or even hostile when people bring up alcohol abuse around them
  • Experiencing growing financial problems
  • Drinking heavily then stopping for a period, also known as yo-yoing
  • Suddenly liquidating personal assets, taking out loans, and emptying cash or investment accounts
  • Asking friends and family for money, even resorting to stealing if money cannot be obtained for more alcohol

When to Get Help for Alcoholism

If you or someone close to you is having trouble controlling their drinking, they may be wondering when they are going to be a good fit for recovery. 

Here are some of the criteria for alcohol use disorder (AUD) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Fifth Edition, also known as the DSM-V:

  • Continuing to use alcohol even if there are definitive problems being caused by the use, reflected in family, home, educational, or professional life
  • Being in denial about the potential of alcohol misuse
  • Engaging in risky behavior while intoxicated
  • Becoming increasingly isolated from friends and family who don’t drink regularly
  • Becoming more secretive
  • Challenges creating, storing, or recalling memories

What to do if You Think You Have a Problem

If there comes a time when you or someone you love is wondering what to do about a drinking problem, the first step is to locate a treatment center. You can find a treatment center with specific options and methods that you feel may be a good fit for your needs. 

There are options for luxury rehabs that offer ultra-comfortable long-term residential programs, and there are facilities that offer outpatient treatment programs in varying levels of intensity and scheduling options. Contact us at 718-208-4202 to get your questions answered today!