Identifying warning signs of alcoholism in any person can look vastly different. There are various signs that you could look out for, but not all effects of alcohol use are noticeable. The impact of alcohol on a person’s behavior, emotional state, and bodily functioning will not always show itself physically.
Luckily, there are universal signs that can help you identify if someone you love is struggling.
Alcoholism has a specific impact on every person you encounter suffering from it. Some people work hard to hide it from friends, family, and coworkers, making it difficult to spot and seek help.
There are varying degrees of alcoholism, and not all people view the same actions as problematic. The sooner a person can seek treatment, the better it is for their health and well-being.
If you have recently started worrying about someone in your life’s (or maybe even your own) usage of alcohol, but aren’t sure what to look out for, you’ve come to the right place.
Understanding alcoholism and its effect on people can make it easier to identify warning signs in the future.
What Is Alcoholism?
Alcoholism, or alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a medical condition that occurs when someone is unable to control their usage of alcohol, even though it is negatively impacting their health, social, and work life.
There are different degrees of alcoholism, which explains why it can be difficult to notice the warning signs. Some people might only be suffering from mild alcohol abuse, where they are better at hiding it from friends and family, making it more challenging to identify.
When someone is suffering from alcoholism, they will place alcohol above everything else in their life. This can lead to poor decision making, financial troubles, and physical illness from withdrawals.
Professionally treating alcoholism is essential to ensure that you can safely go through the recovery process. Trying to stop on your own can be very dangerous, and it’s recommended that you enter a treatment facility that can supervise your recovery process.
What Are the Symptoms of Alcoholism?
The longer alcohol abuse goes untreated, the worse the symptoms might become. Being able to recognize some of the symptoms of alcoholism can help intervene early and get the person the help they deserve.
Proper treatment and help can make the recovery process a whole lot easier, so if you are fearful someone in your life is struggling, learning about the disorder can be useful.
Symptoms typically will co-occur with each other, and no two people will have the exact same reactions. Some common signs that a person is struggling with alcohol use disorder are:
- Drinking alone
- Hiding their drinking from others
- Hanging out with new people, often also misusing alcohol
- Feeling sick when not actively drinking
- Blacking out
- Experiencing short-term memory loss
- Becoming easily irritable
- Having intense mood swings
- Distancing themselves from friends and family
- Ignoring responsibilities at work or school
- Using anything as an excuse to drink
If your loved one begins behaving differently while increasing how much they drink in a week, it might be time to intervene. The longer they are suffering without proper treatment, the more negative the consequences will be.
What Are the Consequences of Alcohol Use Disorder?
When alcohol is abused, health and safety are at risk every day. There are both short-term and long-term consequences from alcohol use disorder, and it’s essential to know what you might encounter.
Being upfront and realistic about how alcohol can impact your life can help save lives.
Short-term consequences of alcohol use disorder can include:
- Injuries from impairment involving vehicles, falls, or drownings
- Alcohol poisoning from consuming too much in one sitting
- Risky sexual behaviors that could lead to sexually transmitted diseases or unwanted pregnancy
Long-term consequences of alcohol abuse can include:
- High blood pressure and heart disease.
- Liver disease and digestive issues.
- Learning and memory problems.
- Depression and anxiety.
- Social problems in work, social, and family life.
- Weakened immune system
How Does Alcoholism Develop?
There are several stages that a person may go through when they develop an addiction to alcohol.
You may start off occasionally abusing alcohol by binge drinking or drinking a few nights in a row, causing intense hangovers and some memory loss. This could then develop into nightly drinking and tolerance build-up, followed by full-blown dependency on alcohol to function.
Using alcohol does not become a problem overnight. Factors like stress, trauma, genetics, and environment might elevate the possibility of developing alcoholism, but not everyone will experience these to the same degree.
You never know what someone is going through, but if they turn to alcohol, they might be subconsciously looking for help.
During adolescence, kids often begin to experiment with drugs and alcohol. They might try to steal some alcohol from their parents’ liquor cabinet for a party or take a hit of marijuana with a group after school.
Drinking is so often portrayed positively in the media that it can seem acceptable or cool to use when you are young.
Experimenting doesn’t usually stop. It can often progress into trying different substances or using more of one substance to feel under the influence. This is just the beginning of alcohol abuse, where it might not yet be negatively impacting your social or family life because it’s easy to conceal and not so much a dependency as it is something fun to do now and then.
People, specifically younger people suffering from low self-esteem, might find that drinking helps them fit in with their peers.
When all your friends are drinking, you will be more inclined to want to. Many people would describe feeling more relaxed and comfortable after a few drinks, referring to how alcohol can lower your inhibitions.
While this might seem helpful in a social situation, it can make being sober around people much more difficult as you continue to use alcohol.
If someone is struggling with their mental health, home life, social life, or schooling, they might turn to alcohol as a way to escape from their own reality. Alcohol can bring you feelings of confidence, happiness, and relaxation.
This makes it an appealing substance to those who are struggling emotionally.
Rather than learning how to cope with stress properly, alcohol allows you to forget about your issues and enjoy your night. If you are dealing with many stressors, alcohol seems to be a quick fix, never allowing you to actually get to the root causes of your worries.
What Are the Benefits of Treatment for AUD?
You can recover from alcoholism! You don’t have to face this beast alone.
With help from professionals, you can safely undergo supervised and sometimes medicated withdrawals. The help of therapists and group therapy sessions can also allow you to better understand how alcohol has impacted you and how you can get yourself off the path it’s leading you down.
Some major benefits of getting treatment for your alcohol use disorder are:
- Group therapy sessions: Where you gain a sense of community and belonging with individuals who have been undergoing similar struggles.
- Individual therapy sessions: You can unpack your issues and emotions in a private session, where you are safe to speak truthfully.
- Detoxification: With professionals guiding you through it, you can detoxify safely with assistance from our staff.
- Inpatient: Where you stay at the facility 24/7 for however long your stay is, with trained staff who are there to support you through the recovery process.
- Outpatient: Without having to press pause on your life, you can still attend therapy sessions and treatments at our facility, but you can come and go as you please.
Getting help can be scary, so having someone to support and push for them to receive it really makes a difference.
If you are worried about your loved ones’ use of alcohol, especially after reading this, call one of our representatives at Soba Recovery and find out how we can help them get back to feeling like themself again.
Early Intervention Can Save Lives
It’s important that you look out for all of your loved ones and try to intervene if you see they are struggling with their use of alcohol.
You are not meant to fix their issues, but knowing someone is looking out for them and noticing that they are hurting, can be encouraging.
People who struggle with alcoholism often know they have an issue, but don’t see a way out. It can be helpful to have someone in your corner supporting you and pushing you to seek treatment.
Treatment centers are a significant first step for those suffering from alcohol use disorder. Many recovery centers offer both inpatient and outpatient services, based on what your specific needs are.
For those that are finding it very hard to cope with their alcoholism and require more support and supervision, we here at Soba Recovery Centers recommend staying with us at our residential inpatient facility, where you get around-the-clock supervision and assistance.
Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Alcohol Use and Your Health | CDC
Understanding Alcohol Use Disorders And Their Treatment | American Sociological Association