What Is Alcohol Addiction?
Alcohol addiction or alcohol use disorder is a medical condition that occurs when a person cannot discontinue or control their drinking despite negative consequences.1
Many people enjoy a drink or two, but alcohol addiction becomes a severe problem for some. Alcoholism is a disease that affects the brain, and it can be challenging to overcome without help. If you or someone you know struggles with alcohol addiction, it’s essential to know the signs and symptoms. Early recognition and treatment can make all the difference.
How Common Is Alcohol Addiction?
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, approximately fourteen million adults had an alcohol use disorder in 2019.1
Symptoms Alcohol Addiction
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) states that addiction of alcohol can be mild, moderate, or severe.1 The following sections will explore the symptoms of alcohol dependence.
Drinking a Greater Amount of Alcohol Than Previously Consumed
Someone may be addicted to alcohol if they drink more than they used to. This could manifest in a person drinking alcohol more frequently than before or consuming larger amounts of alcohol when they drink. If you regularly drink more alcohol than you intended to, this could be a sign of developing alcoholism.1
Spending More Time Being Hungover and Recovering From Alcohol’s Effects
Do you spend more time recovering from alcohol’s effects than drinking? This is a common symptom of alcoholism. When you’re hungover, you may feel nauseated, have a headache, vomit, and be very tired. Hangover symptoms can last for several hours or days.1
Increased Injuries From Falling or Engaging In Risky Behaviors
Alcoholics may frequently suffer from injuries due to falls or risky behaviors while under the influence. These injuries may be minor, such as cuts and bruises, or more serious, such as broken bones or concussions.1
Decreased Self-Care and Poor Hygiene
One of the early signs of addiction is decreased self-care. People who are addicted to alcohol may let their appearance and hygiene suffer. They may neglect to bathe, wear dirty clothes, and have unkempt hair. This is often a sign that they use most of their time and energy to obtain and use alcohol.1
Smelling of Alcohol or Having Many Empty Bottles Around The House
A common sign that you or a loved one may have developed an alcohol addiction is the constant smell of alcohol. This is especially apparent if you find empty bottles lying around the house, in the car, or at work. If this is accompanied by slurred speech, alcohol addiction is likely present.1
Significant Weight Changes
People struggling with alcohol abuse often have a poor diet and may not be getting the nutrients they need. This can lead to alcohol abuse, weight loss, or weight gain. Alcohol also has a lot of empty calories, which can contribute to weight gain.1
Rapidly Changing Moods
An individual needing alcohol addiction help may be happy one minute and angry or irritable the next. This can cause issues in personal relationships and at work.1
Increased Irritability, Anger, and Aggression
Individuals with alcohol addiction are more likely to experience symptoms of anger, irritability, and aggression. This may occur because chronic alcohol abuse alters brain chemistry and function.1
Failing To Follow Throughout On Responsibilities
One of the first symptoms that may develop due to over alcohol consumption is an inability to follow through on responsibilities. This can manifest in several ways, such as missing work, neglecting personal commitments, or lacking participation in activities.1
Problems With Memory, Concentration, and Attention
Cognitive impairment, including memory, attention, and concentration issues, is associated with an alcohol disorder. Individuals with this disorder often experience blackouts or alcohol loss of consciousness where they cannot remember what happened during a drinking episode.1
How Can Drinking Too Much Affect Me?
Drinking alcohol can have several consequences, both short-term and long-term. Keep reading to learn about the effects of alcohol use.
Brain Damage, Including Dementia
Over alcohol consumption can lead to brain damage known as alcoholic dementia. This form of brain damage can result in memory loss, difficulty with motor skills, and problems with speech and vision.2
Despair, Depression, Suicide
People with alcohol addiction problems are more likely to suffer from clinical depression, despair, and suicidal ideation.
Cancers of The Breast, Liver, Colon, and Mouth
Alcohol addiction can increase a person’s risk of cancer, heart disease, and other serious alcohol health issues. Alcohol use disorder is associated with mouth, throat, voice box, esophagus, liver, colon, rectum, and breast cancer.3
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
What are the dangers of alcohol use during pregnancy? FAS is a condition that can occur in babies born to mothers who drink alcohol during pregnancy. FAS is characterized by physical and mental defects.4
Accidents and Injuries
Drinking addiction is a significant factor in fatal and non-fatal accidents. Car crashes, falls, burns and drowning are just a few ways alcohol can lead to severe accidents and injuries.
Blackouts, Assaults, DUIs, and Homicide
People with alcohol addiction problems are more likely to drive drunk, get into fights, be involved in accidents, and incur legal consequences due to alcohol use.
What Causes Alcohol Addiction?
A person’s risk of developing alcohol dependence or an alcohol disorder can be impacted by various factors. The following sections will explore three common causes of alcohol dependence.
Family history, parental drinking, and genetics can put individuals at an increased risk for alcohol addictiveness.
Early Childhood Events
Craving for alcohol can be increased by early childhood events, including drinking at a young age or childhood trauma.
Attempts to Relieve Emotional Pain
People with mental health conditions are more vulnerable to the short and long-term effects of alcohol addiction.
How Is Alcohol Addiction Diagnosed?
Behavioral health professionals use the DSM-5 to diagnose whether individuals meet the clinical criteria for alcohol misuse vs. alcohol use disorder.
How Can I Prevent Alcohol Addiction?
Prevention of alcohol abuse can occur through improved education about the dangers of alcohol, including the physical consequences of alcohol.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment
If you or someone you know needs addiction alcohol help, continue reading to learn about treatment options.
Talk therapy, behavioral interventions, coping skills, and relapse prevention are used in addiction alcohol help programs.
Medication management can be used to mitigate the short and-long term effects of alcohol. Common medications for alcohol use disorder include naltrexone, disulfiram, and acamprosate.
Mutual-support groups, including alcoholics anonymous (AA) meetings, are an excellent place to receive advice to stop drinking alcohol.
Find Help For Alcohol Addiction at Great Oaks Recovery
Great Oaks Recovery is a leading treatment center for alcohol addiction, withdrawal, and the short-term effects of alcohol. The knowledgeable and compassionate clinical team comes alongside each client to create person-centered treatment plans to overcome the burdens of addiction. Contact Great Oaks Recovery today to begin your journey towards healing!