The signs of alcoholism are both physical and psychological. Alcoholism is the most severe problem a person can have with alcohol when compared to alcohol misuse and abuse. The symptoms and signs of alcoholism include the same as those for alcohol abuse but include the physical nature of alcoholism. When a person is an alcoholic it goes beyond abusing alcohol, their body physically needs alcohol in order to function and not make them ill.
One of the first major signs of alcoholism is developing a tolerance to alcohol. Ask yourself a few questions: Does it take more alcohol than in the past to feel relaxed or “buzzed?” Do you find that you can drink more alcohol than those around you without becoming drunk? If you answered yes to any of these questions then you have developed a tolerance to alcohol’s effects. This is an initial sign of alcohol abuse and paves the way for the development of alcoholism.
The second of the major signs of alcoholism is suffering withdrawal effects. When a person is a heavy drinker their body begins to rely on the alcohol they supply it regularly. If the person does not provide alcohol to their body they will go into a state of withdrawal. Alcoholism withdrawal includes symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, shakiness, depression, fatigue, sweating, nausea, irritability, loss of appetite and headache. When a person is severely addicted to alcohol they may experience even more intense and sometimes life threating symptoms including: seizures, fever, confusion and agitation.
When a person is suffering from alcoholism they will display many physical signs on a regular basis. Hand tremors are common among alcoholics and may begin as early as a few hours after their last drink. Some alcoholics develop jaundice. This is a result of liver damage and turns the alcoholic’s skin yellow. The yellowing of the skin brought on by jaundice is caused by the pigment found in the bile (a digestive juice made by the liver) that begins to spread throughout the alcoholic’s bloodstream. People with alcohol addiction problems may also develop rosacea (red, dry itchy skin). This is due to nutritional deficiencies, particularly vitamin B.
Additional signs of alcoholism include:
Losing control over your drinking. Alcoholics drink more than they intended to and for longer periods than they anticipated despite telling themselves that it won’t happen “this time” and that they can control their drinking.
Alcohol addiction and alcoholism becomes obvious to the problem drinker when they become determined to stop drinking or cut down yet have multiple unsuccessful attempts.
A person who is an alcoholic or has severe problems with alcohol will often give up on other activities in their life if they conflict with their drinking. Things that were once important such as spending time with friends and family, going to the gym and pursuing hobbies take a back seat to getting drunk or recovering from drinking.
Getting alcohol, drinking alcohol and recovering from the effects of abusing alcohol is practically all an alcoholic can think about. It takes up the majority of their time and energy and they have few interests that do not involve alcohol in one way or another.
A person who has a problem with alcohol will continue to drink even though they know that it is causing problems in their life. One of the many signs of alcoholism is when the person is aware of the severe problems in their life caused by their drinking such as depression, relationship issues and health problems yet continues to keep drinking in spite of it.
On the other hand, many alcoholics suffer with denial because they do not what to change their ways and take ownership for their actions. It is easier to not admit that there is a problem than to face it head on and address it. Many times is takes the help of friends and family for the alcoholic to recognize their own personal signs of alcoholism. With the love and support of those who care about the problem drinker they will hopefully find the inner strength to face their alcoholism and make the necessary changes to get sober.
A person who is showing signs of alcoholism denial will:
Greatly underestimate the amount of alcohol they consume on a regular basis.
Choose to downplay the physical and psychological effects they experience due to their drinking.
Claim that their loved ones are being dramatic about their drinking habits.
Find any excuse to pin their problems with alcohol and the choices they make regarding their unhealthy drinking practices on someone or something else.
Are you a functional alcoholic?