Alcoholism is a serious problem in the United States, affecting millions of Americans each year. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 29.5 million people aged 12 or older suffered from alcoholism in 2021.
While alcohol use disorder affects millions of people’s lives, sometimes it can be difficult to determine whether you have a problem with drinking. This is often due to the stereotype of alcoholism, as not everyone suffers from the condition in the same manner. For example, while alcoholism may cause one person to lose their job and deal with financial stress, it might present more internally for others.
Identifying alcoholism early can help you or a loved one seek treatment before your decision gets worse. Here are 8 common signs of alcoholism:
1. Isolating from Friends and Family
One of the first signs of alcoholism is isolating yourself from your loved ones. When you struggle with this condition, it is common to feel the need to protect yourself from judgment. This might cause you to stop interacting with your friends and family as often as you used to in an attempt to prevent them from noticing your drinking habits.
2. Using Alcohol to Cope
Another sign that you are suffering from a drinking problem is using alcohol to cope with uncomfortable emotions or stressful events. While having a glass of wine to unwind after work is not necessarily a problem, using alcohol to numb feelings instead of addressing them is. Additionally, if you find yourself saying that you need alcohol to socialize properly, you might be dealing with alcoholism.
3. Lying About Your Alcohol Consumption or Hiding it
A telltale sign of alcohol use disorder is lying about the amount of the substance you use. If your friends and family have made comments about you drinking too much, you might begin to attempt to conceal your alcohol use. If you begin only drinking in private or hiding bottles of alcohol around your home or work office, you are most likely struggling with alcoholism.
4. Alcohol-Related Mood Changes
If you begin to experience increased symptoms of anxiety, depression, or overall changes in your mood, you could be drinking too much. Alcohol abuse, especially over time, is linked to mood and mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, psychosis, and antisocial behavior, both during intoxication and during withdrawal.
5. Neglecting Responsibilities
Has alcohol begun to prevent you from completing your responsibilities? Are you showing up late or missing days of work? Have you felt like you were unable to complete daily tasks like personal grooming or tidying up the house?
If so, it could be linked to your alcohol intake. When you struggle with alcoholism, drinking begins to take priority in your life. You will focus solely on alcohol, forcing all of your important responsibilities to take the back burner.
6. Developing Tolerance
A clear sign that you are struggling with alcoholism is developing tolerance. When you regularly consume any drug, your body will begin to become tolerant of it, so you’ll need to drink more alcohol to feel the same effects. If you’ve found yourself having to increase the amount you drink over time to feel the effects you desire, you may have a drinking problem.
7. Alcohol Cravings
When you are not drinking alcohol, do you experience seemingly uncontrollable urges to drink? If so, that is known as experiencing a craving, which is a common sign of alcoholism.
Cravings are one of the biggest roadblocks to recovery, as they make it extremely difficult to quit drinking for good. An alcohol rehab center can teach you how to cope with cravings effectively.
8. Dealing With Withdrawal Symptoms When You Don’t Drink
Lastly, one of the most common signs of alcoholism is experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you are not drinking. Withdrawal symptoms occur when you remove a substance from your body that your brain has begun to rely on to function properly.
The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:
- Cravings for alcohol
- Excessive sweating
- Shaking or tremors
- Loss of appetite
- Irritability or agitation
- Nausea and vomiting
- Anxiety or nervousness
- Fast heart rate
Alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening without medical assistance, so you should always seek help from a medical detox program when quitting drinking.
Get Help for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
If you or a loved one suffer from alcoholism, it’s time to seek professional help. While the first step in recovery is always medical detox and inpatient treatment, your journey doesn’t stop there.
The transition from a treatment facility to independent living can be incredibly difficult, increasing your risk of relapsing. As a result, you should always consider entering a sober living program before you attempt to live on your own.
To learn more about our sober living program for recovering alcoholics, contact New You Sober Living today.
- The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA): Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) In the United States, Retrieved June 2023 From https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-health/alcohol-topics/alcohol-facts-and-statistics/alcohol-use-disorder-aud-united-states-age-groups-and-demographic-characteristics
- The National Institutes of Health (NIH): Alcoholism and Psychiatric Disorders, Retrieved June 2023 From https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh26-2/90-98.htm
- The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA): Alcohol and Tolerance, Retrieved June 2023 From https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa28.htm
- The National Library of Medicine: Alcohol Withdrawal, Retrieved June 2023 From https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441882/