There are many different signs and symptoms associated with alcoholism which involves alcohol abuse, physical dependence, tolerance and withdrawal according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD).
The following factors listed below can help to determine if a person's an alcoholic.
Tolerance takes place first, this occurs when a person's reaction to alcohol decreases, they need to drink larger amounts to achieve the same effects they use to. When a person consumes alcohol over a prolonged period of time, they become less sensitive to it and they have to drink larger amounts achieve the same results.
Withdrawal is another sign of alcoholism, there are a variety of symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal which occur after a person's use is reduced or stopped. The length of withdrawal and the symptoms that occur can vary for each person because it depends on the amount of alcohol the individual consumes and for how long.
There are many symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal, symptoms may include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Rapid heart rate
- Delirium tremens
- Black outs
The desire and inability to stop drinking is another very common sign associated with alcoholism. This means the individual wants to stop drinking or even cut down on their consumption of alcohol but they're unable to, their efforts are unsuccessful. Loss of control is much too common when a person drinks more than they wanted to or for a longer period of time than they intended or despite telling themselves they wouldn't do it this time.
Another sign of alcoholism is when drinking takes up greater time, energy and focus in a person's life above anything else. A leading sign of alcoholism is when a person spends much of their time drinking, thinking about drinking or recovering from the effects of alcohol.
The individual (alcoholic) doesn't have many other interests in life if any and their involvements socially or in the community only revolve around drinking. Activities that use to be important to them no longer are, they spend a lot less time on activities they once enjoyed, for example:
- Spending time and hanging out with family and friends
- Going to the gym
- Pursuing hobbies or other interests, this neglect directly related to drinking
The most damaging and final sign of alcoholism is drinking even though the individual realizes it's causing problems in their life but they continue to drink despite the consequences. Examples of this may be:
- Even though the individual realizes their drinking is interfering with their ability to do their job it doesn't matter, they continue to drink anyway.
- The individuals drinking is damaging their marriage or relationship and making problems worse but even though they recognize this, they continue to drink.
- The individual continues to drink in spite of the fact that their alcohol consumption is causing health problems.
The use and abuse of alcohol isn't just a problem among adults, according to the NCADD "More than 23 million people over the age of 12 are addicted to alcohol and other drugs". If you're still unsure if you have an addiction to alcohol, NCADD provides a Self-Test just for alcoholism to help a person determine the role alcohol plays in their life.
In small amounts alcohol leaves a person feeling relaxed and pleasantly cheerful but in higher doses, alcohol can cause decreased awareness, judgment, coordination and vision. Very high levels of alcohol can lead to loss of motor function, stupor, unconsciousness, depressed respiration and even death.
Side Effects Associated with Alcohol
- Weight gain
- High blood pressure
- Depressed immune system
- Liver disease
- Alcohol poisoning
- Respiratory or heart failure
Sadly the abuse of alcohol is much too common, the toxic substance has the capacity to produce physical and behavioral dependency and can cause extremely serious problems in a person's life but, the effects don't stop there. Everyone is affected by another person's abuse of alcohol in one way or another whether their consumption has led to addiction or not.
Seek help if you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol. There's effective help available in every community for people of all ages including their family members, loved ones and friends affected by their use.