Alcoholism is a term used to describe the most serious form of problem drinking at a level that causes harm to your health. It describes a strong, often uncontrollable, desire to drink. Are you concerned that you or someone you know may be dependent on alcohol? Find out how to recognise the common signs, and where to go for help. Therapy is useful to help teach someone how to manage the stress of recovery and the skills needed to prevent a relapse.

how to recognize signs and symptoms of alcoholism and alcohol abuse

Drinking alcohol too much or too often, or being unable to control alcohol consumption, can be a sign of alcohol misuse and, in some cases, alcohol use disorder (AUD). While it’s a mental addiction, the body also becomes addicted to chemicals in the brain that become dependent on the dopamine that alcohol releases. This can lead to serious symptoms of withdrawal and strong urges to consume more. If your pattern of drinking results in repeated significant distress and problems functioning in your daily life, you likely have alcohol use disorder.

Next step: Finding help for a drinking problem

Alcoholism and alcohol abuse can affect all aspects of your life. Long-term alcohol use can cause serious health complications, affecting virtually every organ in your body, including your brain. Problem drinking can also how to recognize signs and symptoms of alcoholism and alcohol abuse damage your emotional stability, finances, career, and your ability to build and sustain satisfying relationships. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse can also have an impact on your family, friends and the people you work with.

Discovering your child is drinking can generate fear, confusion, and anger in parents. It’s important to remain calm when confronting your teen, and only do so when everyone is sober. Explain your concerns and make it clear that your concern comes from a place of love. You may also benefit from joining a group such as Al-Anon, a free peer support group for families coping with alcoholism.

Other signs and symptoms of alcoholism

Even if someone is not at risk for Delirium Tremens, supervised detoxification can help prevent relapse, which is common during withdrawal. Many over-the-counter and prescription medications can have adverse health consequences whenmixed with alcohol. These medications include many popular painkillers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol); sedative drugs such as diazepam (Valium); and cough, cold, and allergy remedies. People taking medications should read the label and package inserts for possible interactions with alcohol or other drugs, especially if they have multiple drinks on an occasion.

how to recognize signs and symptoms of alcoholism and alcohol abuse

In outpatient programs, those working toward recovery receive addiction treatment while living at home or outside of a facility. Take our free, 5-minute alcohol use self-assessment below if you think you or someone you love might be struggling with alcohol misuse. This evaluation consists of 11 yes or no questions that are designed to be used as an informational tool to assess the severity and probability of an alcohol use disorder. The test is free, confidential, and no personal information is needed to receive the result. Neglected tasks, dishonesty or secretive behavior, and financial distress take a toll on relationships.

Behavioral treatments

The psychological component of addiction does not refer to the effects alcohol has on one’s mental state, such as disordered thinking. Rather, it refers to how the person’s thoughts and actions become geared toward obtaining alcohol and consuming it, even to the exclusion of important responsibilities. If AUD is not treated, it can increase your risk for serious health problems.

AUD can capture symptoms of either or both alcohol abuse and dependence and is diagnosed by severity (mild, moderate, or severe). Severe AUD and alcoholism are considered interchangeable.19 For purposes of clarity, the terms alcoholism or alcohol addiction will be used for the remainder of this article. Once someone has decided to seek treatment, selecting the appropriate course will depend on the individual; both their preference for treatment and the severity of their drinking. Problematic alcohol use that hasn’t turned into an addiction, especially if withdrawal symptoms are not present, can be treated with behavioral therapy only. Individuals who regularly consume high quantities of alcohol, however, may require increased levels of care. Because these individuals are more likely to experience withdrawal symptoms, including the rare but potentially fatal symptoms of delirium tremens, they should receive medically supervised detox.

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