What are the Symptoms of an Alcoholic?
An estimated 15 million people have an Alcohol Use Disorder, or AUD.
Alcohol Use Disorder is a brain disorder, where there is a diminished ability to control drinking habits despite adverse consequences.
There are several symptoms associated with alcoholics, including:
- Trying and repeatedly failing to reduce or stop drinking.
- Having alcohol cravings.
- Giving up normal activities to make time to drink.
- Putting yourself/others in danger while under the influence of alcohol.
- Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal between drinking sessions.
*This is not an exhaustive list of symptoms of alcoholics.
If you would like to read about all of the symptoms, visit the National Institutes of Health website.
If one or more of these symptoms apply to you, you may be suffering from AUD.
It would be wise to speak with an addiction professional to discuss the next steps.
Understand the Drinking Patterns that Signal AUD
Not only are the above symptoms associated with AUD, but there are specific drinking patterns that also signal alcoholism.
Let us begin by defining binge drinking. Binge drinking is defined based on the sex of an individual.
- Women - For women, binge drinking is considered drinking four or more alcoholic drinks at once or within hours of each other.
- Men - For men, binge drinking is drinking five or more alcoholic drinks at once or within hours of each other.
The more you binge drink, the higher your chances of developing an AUD.
Effects of Alcoholism
Alcoholism comes with many adverse health effects, from withdrawal symptoms to physical signs that develop over time.
In this section, we will talk about some of the effects of alcoholism.
Signs of Alcohol Withdrawal
Alcohol withdrawal is one of the most challenging experiences to go through, and this is because of the symptoms that come with withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe, and the following list will tell you the signs to expect at each level:
Mild Signs of Alcohol Withdrawal
There are several mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms that you should be aware of, and they include:
- Rapid heart rate
- Skin paleness
- Mood swings
- Loss of appetite
Severe Signs of Alcohol Withdrawal
While most alcohol withdrawal symptoms are mild, some signs are more severe. We will go over these in the list below:
- Profound confusion
- Elevated blood pressure
If you are experiencing any of the above signs of alcohol withdrawal and they become bothersome, take action immediately. Consult a medical professional either at a hospital or detox center. They will help alleviate the symptoms and help you get off alcohol if that is your desire.
Physical Signs of Alcoholism
Many know that excessive alcohol use can cause you to gain weight in your abdominal region, causing the infamous “beer belly.” But many are not aware of the other physical signs of alcoholism. AUD can affect almost every aspect of your physical appearance. We will get into the physical signs of alcoholism below:
- Hair - Alcohol in itself is a dehydrator, and this often shows in your hair. Dry hair is more likely to develop split ends and breakage.
- Eyes - Alcohol irritates the delicate blood vessels in your eyes. This can cause them to become bloodshot.
- Skin - Alcohol negatively affects your skin. It dries it out, causing premature wrinkles. In addition to that, your skin can begin to look grey and lifeless.
Mental Illness and Symptoms of an Alcoholic
Mental illness can increase your risk of developing AUD. Conversely, alcoholism can cause some mental illnesses. Several mental conditions commonly coexist with alcoholism, and they are:
- Bipolar disorder
If you are dealing with any of the above mental illnesses in conjunction with alcoholism, you may have trouble controlling your alcohol addiction alone. Consequently, it is wise to seek outside help. Addiction-certified therapists and medical professionals will be able to help with both your alcohol addiction and mental illnesses, which is known as a dual diagnosis.
Alcohol Abuse Dangers
Of the millions of people who have alcohol use disorder, only 10% of them seek treatment. This is saddening, considering the many risks and dangers that come along with alcohol abuse.
Health Risks Caused by Alcoholism
Alcoholism increases your risk of numerous health problems. In this section, we will go over some of the negative health consequences associated with alcoholism.
According to the CDC, there are many health risks associated with excessive drinking. Long-term health risks include heart problems, diabetes complications, bone damage, increased cancer risk, and more.
Injuries from car crashes, drownings, and burns are the most common short-term health risks. Other short-term risks include homicide, sexual assault, domestic violence, and alcohol poisoning.
Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning
Alcohol poisoning is perhaps the most emergent health risk of alcoholism. It arises when someone drinks copious amounts of alcohol on one occasion. The alcohol consumed raises the body’s blood alcohol level to such a high point that it affects your organs’ function. In this section, we will fill you in on the symptoms of alcohol poisoning:
- Confusion - The level of confusion may be severe as if you are in a trance.
- Vomiting - You may vomit profusely. Some choke on their vomit or aspirate it into their lung, causing lung disease.
- Unconsciousness - It may be difficult to stay conscious, and others may have trouble waking you up.
- Seizures - The severity of the seizures can vary, the most severe causing brain damage.
- Low body temperature - Your skin may turn blue, and you may also look pale.
You could experience one or more of the above symptoms of alcohol poisoning. Someone who has reached the level of alcohol poisoning may have diminished organ function, which increases the risk of death.
Seek Treatment for Alcoholism
Once you realize that you have a problem with alcohol, you should address it immediately. There is no need to feel down on yourself, as your addiction is a sickness that you may need professional help to overcome. In this section, we will let you know of the alcoholism treatment options you have.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a type of one-on-one therapy that is conducted by a licensed mental health professional. The goal of CBT is to uncover specific thought processes and circumstances that drive you to drink. Once these are discovered, the therapist works with you to rewire your thought process and teach coping skills to curb drinking.
Medication is commonly used to treat AUD. The following list will examine the most commonly used medications:
- Naltrexone - This is a medication that both blocks alcohol cravings and stops you from feeling good when you drink. It blocks the brain receptors that are responsible for that euphoric feeling. It is often used as part of a treatment plan as a way to reduce your drinking.
- Acamprosate - This medication is a drug that works in your brain to help reduce alcohol cravings.
- Disulfiram - This medication induces bothersome symptoms when you drink.
Counseling is a useful treatment option for those struggling with AUD. Counselors inform family members of in-depth information about AUD and facilitate relationship repair. Alcohol addiction professionals know that support from family members can be a helpful tool in your recovery.
Interventions are a type of counseling that may be done in either a one-on-one or group session. In interventions, the counselor will educate you on the health risks that may result from your drinking. They may also speak with you about your drinking habits and give you helpful tips and instructions to regain control of your life.
Treatment may be done in several settings, like outpatient and inpatient. Outpatient treatment is administered in a facility by appointment (you would not live in the facility). For inpatient treatment, you would leave your home and live at a treatment facility for 24/7 care. The treatment setting, therapies, and medication that you need will depend on your specific situation.
Paying for Alcoholism Treatment
If you have decided to seek treatment for your alcohol addiction, that is great.
Do not allow financial difficulties to prevent you from getting the treatment you need.
If you have health insurance, call them to verify your coverage for alcohol dependence and treatment, and to go over any symptoms of alcohol poisoning.
If they cover this type of treatment, use our free insurance verification to see if we accept your insurance.
We encourage you to reach out to a medical professional or recovery center as soon as possible if you believe that you may have AUD or have experienced symptoms of alcohol poisoning.
The sooner you do so, the sooner you can get your life back.