Alcohol Abuse Symptoms

Alcohol is legal but remains highly addictive and comes with many risks medically, psychologically, and generationally.
What constitutes and alcohol use disorder and what are the signs of alcoholism? Becoming well versed in addiction and mental health can provide you with the tools to help others who struggle personally with addiction. Alcohol use disorders are determined by many factors like how much the individual drinks, how often, and how much alcohol use gets in the way of the individual’s life and responsibilities or hobbies.

In many cases, signs of alcoholism may be hard to identify, but there are signs you can look out for if you know someone who is struggling with alcohol use.

Signs of alcoholism include:

  • Frequent blacking out from drinking
  • Experiencing short term memory loss after a day/night of drinking
  • Coming up with “good reasons” to drink
  • Drinking despite of ignoring job, home life, hobbies, etc.
  • Individual may become withdrawn from close friends or family
  • Individual may drink in secret or by themselves frequently
  • Sick when not drinking, flu like symptoms
  • Changes who they are and who they hangout with to keep up with drinking

When it comes to adolescent drinking, there are many reasons why young adults chose to drink or party. Young adults are often pressured into drinking by other young adults and may feel like saying no would make them seem uncool or not worthy of friendship. Another reason adolescents drink is to help them cope with possible mental health or trauma they may be dealing with untreated. It’s important to talk to your children about addiction and the damage that can be done to their brain body and future by underage drinking, especially binge drinking.

The Dangers of Alcohol Abuse

There are many risks to be aware of when drinking heavily, and these risks become heightened if you are pregnant, have a history of addiction, you have recently had a stroke, you have liver or pancreas damage, if you have a weak working heart or if you are on medications where you are supposed to avoid alcohol. 

Heavy drinking or constant binge drinking can be permanently damaging to your brain and body and may cause brain damage over time. 

This kind of drinking can bring on:

  • Cancer of the mouth, breast, throat, esophagus, or liver
  • Liver damage or pancreatitis
  • Possible sudden death
  • Heart failure or a bad heart
  • Possible stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Liver disease
  • Depression and suicide
  • Possible accidental death or injury
  • Brain damage
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome if drinking while pregnant
  • Withdrawal symptoms

It should be known that moderate drinking can be safe especially when doing good things for your mind and body. This includes eating a healthy diet, regular exercise, and drinking a good amount of water daily.

Identifying Alcoholism Symptoms

When identifying alcoholism in your family or as a friend, there are some methods you can use and certain behavioral and physical symptoms to look out for. The CAGE method is an assessment/ questionnaire you can use to determine if someone you care for is struggling with addiction.

CAGE Questions:

  1. Have you ever felt that you should cut down on drinking alcohol?
  2. Have you been criticized for your drinking problem?
  3. Have you ever felt guilty about your drinking?
  4. Have you ever started your day with a drink due to nerves or being hungover, thinking it will help?

If the individual answers yes to any of these questions, you should talk to them about going into treatment for their addiction.
Here are some common physical and behavioral symptoms to look out for when identifying alcohol abuse.

  • Slurred speech
  • Blacking out
  • Decreased coordination
  • Temporary memory loss
  • Hard time walking
  • Driving drunk
  • Mood swings
  • Hair loss
  • Dark circles under eyes
  • Sleep problems
  • Anxiety and depression

Individuals who struggle with alcohol abuse may become withdrawn from what they once loved, such as their job, their hobbies, children, spouse, etc. They may act out in rage or drink alone in secrecy. If you see these signs, seek help immediately, and talk to other friends and family who can help you gain support.

Alcohol Intervention

If you have already tried to help the individual seek treatment and get help but they have refused treatment, it may be time to discuss holding an intervention for this individual. When deciding to go this route, there are many things you should know before doing so. Here are the ins and outs of alcohol intervention. 

  • When staging an intervention, you want to first decide who will be apart of the intervention and who must not attend. Family with addiction problems themselves should not be apart of the intervention unless they are also going to get treatment. Those of whom are close to the individual but may be a negative influence on them should not attend. You want a group of loving supportive individuals around during this intervention. 
  • Those who are apart of the intervention should be aware to not place any place on the individual, and to try their best not to make it about themselves but to remind the individual that they are loved and will be supported through this entire process. Talk about the good, positive things that this individual has done or done for you. 
  • Come up with consequences. These should be life changing, such as the individual will not have contact with their children until they get help, or they will not be able to live with mom and dad unless they get help. 
  • Take the time to plan. An intervention should be planned out in full detail and all who attend should be confident and ready. Do not expect the individual to want to get help, this may take time and you will need to have the tools and the time to be patient. 

Interventions can be very effective when done the proper way and with lots of planning and dedication. You must be able to remain calm, loving, and supportive and put your anger or resentments aside. You want the individual to know that you love them regardless of their addiction and just want them to get healthy again. 

Alcohol Withdrawal, Treatment, and Next Steps

If the individual accepts treatment after and intervention, it will be time to get them into treatment as quickly as possible, preferably before alcohol withdrawal starts. When an individual is dependent on drinking alcohol, their body becomes used to that substance and when the individual tries to stop, they become sick from withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can range from mild to severe but should always be monitored by medical professionals.

Alcohol withdrawal looks like:

  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Tremors
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings 
  • Increased blood pressure 
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

When ready for treatment, your first step will be medical detox. Medical detox provides care to the individual during withdrawal and releases the toxins from your body under 24 hour care. Your next steps after detox will be going into rehabilitation programs and starting your road to recovery. The most important thing to remember during treatment is that you are not alone, your addiction is not your fault, and you can heal things and start new. Seek treatment today if you or someone you care for is struggling with alcohol dependence and addiction. 

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