There is a fine line which makes distinguishing alcohol abuse from alcohol addiction. Due to the social acceptance and popularity of drinking alcohol, millions of individuals around the world suffer from the disease of alcoholism. Most people do not seek proper treatment for this dangerous addiction.
Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction
Recognizing the signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction may be the first step to overcoming it. The following questions may help those who may be questioning if they have an alcohol addiction.
- Does my drinking cause problems for myself or for others?
- Do I feel the need to lie about my drinking because I feel ashamed?
- Do I “black out” on a regular basis?
- Are people worried about my drinking?
- Do I drink to feel good, to relax, and/or to avoid feeling bad?
- Do I often drink more than I started the night off intending to?
If you answered yes to one of or more of these questions you may need to re-evaluate your alcohol consumption as it may be impacting your life in a negative way. Some other indicators of this disease may include but are certainly not limited to:
- I abandon responsibilities at home, work, and/or school for alcohol.
- I disregard the problems alcohol is causing in my personal and professional relationships and choose to drink anyways.
- After using alcohol, I put myself in physically hazardous situations, e.g., drinking and driving.
- I have to drink more and more alcohol to get that same “buzz”.
- When I try to stop drinking, I simply can’t and/or I experience one or more of these physical withdrawal symptoms: Anxiety, sweating, unsettled stomach, vomiting, headache, petulance, exhaustion, depression, loss of appetite.
Effects of Addiction
Short term effects include:
- Feeling “drunk” -Social audaciousness, dizziness, slurred speech, nausea, vomiting, impairment of judgment and dexterity, violent or aggressive behavior
- The “hangover” – headache, fatigue, thirst, dizziness, nausea, vomiting
Long term effects include:
- Drinking massive quantities of alcohol over a long period of time can lead to permanent damage and/or failure to the brain, liver, pancreas, heart and other central organs.
- Drinking during pregnancy can cause fetal alcohol syndrome following birth, which may include mental retardation and other irreparable physical abnormalities. Also, children of alcoholics are more susceptible to succumbing to this disease themselves.
- Withdrawal symptoms, as those listed above, will occur once the long term consumption of alcohol suddenly stops.
Treatment for Alcohol Addiction
Admitting you have a problem is the first step in treating your addiction. However, due to the nature and the danger of this disease, simply just stopping on your own is highly inadvisable. The sudden cessation of heavy alcohol use can be fatal, as asking for proper treatment help for a healthy detox is strongly urged. Getting sober, however, is just the beginning for a lifelong struggle down the road of recovery. Support for the handling of this addiction is essential and not to be mistaken for a sign of weakness, as it is nearly impossible to get sober much less stay sober alone. There are many treatment paths one can follow. Going to rehab has been a road more traveled in recent years, but is just one among many options alcoholics have such as therapy, self-help programs, and the world renowned 12 Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous.