Identifying the Signs of Alcoholism

Understanding Symptoms & Treatment Options for Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a serious and often overlooked disease. It is a chronic and progressive illness that is characterized by the compulsive, uncontrolled consumption of alcohol despite negative consequences. Understanding the signs and symptoms is crucial in identifying and addressing the problem before it spirals out of control. Read on for a list of what to look for in those experiencing alcoholism, and how and where to seek help and treatment.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism

1. Amount

Drinking large amounts of alcohol makes a person more susceptible to developing alcoholism. Drinking entire cases of beer or bottles of liquor in a single day are indications there may be a problem.

2. Tolerance

If someone needs to drink larger and larger quantities of alcohol in order to achieve the desired effect, they may be developing an alcohol addiction.

3. Craving

Those who feel an intense urge to drink are experiencing cravings, which indicates that there is an addiction response occurring in the brain.

5. Lack of Impulse Control

Individuals with alcoholism are unable to cut down or stop drinking, despite a desire to do so. They also engage in risky behaviors, such as driving under the influence, and will continue to drink despite negative consequences. This leads to potential problems in relationships, with the legal system or with their own health. They may also become very angry or defensive when questioned about their drinking.

6. Time of Day

Those with alcoholism often drink during unusual times of the day, such as in the morning. This is due to the addictive nature of the disease. They will also spend a lot of their day drinking, recovering from the effects of drinking, or obtaining alcohol.

7. Neglect

People experiencing alcoholism often end up neglecting their responsibilities at work, school or home because of their drinking.

8. Withdrawal

Due to the addictive effect that alcohol can have on the brain, individuals with alcoholism will experience withdrawal symptoms when not drinking. These manifest as tremors, sweating, nausea or anxiety.

9. Coping Mechanism

Many people with alcoholism drink to cope with stress, anxiety or other emotions.

10. Avoidance

Some individuals with alcoholism prefer to drink alone or in secret. They may feel shame and guilt regarding their issue, and want to keep those around them unaware of the problem. They may also give up previously enjoyed activities in favor of drinking.

11. Health Issues

Consuming large quantities of alcohol can result in physical health problems, such as liver damage. Those with this kind of damage may appear jaundiced, which is a buildup of bilirubin in the body causing the skin and whites if eyes to appear yellowish in color. Some people with alcoholism can also have poor hygiene due to neglect.

Seeking Help

It can be difficult to recognize when someone is struggling with alcoholism, and it may be even harder if that someone is yourself. However, seeking help is important for preventing further harm and improving overall quality of life.

Talking to a medical or mental health professional is a good first step towards treatment. There are many different types of treatment, including medical detoxification, behavioral therapies, support groups, or a combination of approaches. There are also residential and outpatient treatment centers that offer comprehensive treatment and support for those struggling with alcoholism.

Residential Treatment Centers

These facilities, also known as inpatient treatment centers, offer a structured and intensive program that typically lasts anywhere from several weeks to months. During this time, individuals live at the center and receive continuous care from trained professionals, including medical staff, therapists and addiction specialists. Treatment may involve medical detoxification, individual and group therapy, and education on coping skills and relapse prevention. Some of these centers also offer alternative therapies, like yoga and mindfulness classes.

The goal of these centers is to provide a supportive and safe environment for those suffering from alcoholism to focus on their recovery, and build the skills and tools needed to maintain sobriety. While the cost of residential centers can be high, many accept insurance or offer financial assistance to help make treatment more accessible.

Outpatient Treatment Centers

Similar to residential centers, outpatient treatment centers provide treatment and support for individuals struggling with alcoholism, but allow them to continue living at home while receiving care. This type of treatment typically involves attending regular therapy sessions, support groups and other structured programming.

It can be a good option for those with less severe alcoholism, or for those who have completed a residential program and need ongoing support to maintain sobriety. It is also more flexible and affordable than inpatient treatment.

Outpatient treatment centers may offer a range of services like individual and group therapy, medication management, relapse prevention planning, and family therapy. They may also provide education on coping skills, and strategies for managing triggers and cravings.

While outpatient care can be effective for some, it may not be the best option for everyone. Those with severe alcoholism or co-occurring mental health conditions may require a higher level of care.

Final Notes

Alcoholism is a serious and complex disease that can have far-reaching consequences for individuals and families. It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of this disorder, and when to seek out professional help. It’s also worth noting that recovery is a lifelong process, and having the support of friends and family is crucial to maintaining sobriety.

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