Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism

 You have probably come across the term alcoholism or alcohol abuse. Or even what doctors call alcohol abuse disorder. Regardless of the term given, alcoholism is a social vice that has a far-reaching negative impact, both on the health and social life of the alcoholic.

However, you need to understand that there is a difference between the terms alcoholism and alcohol abuse. In most cases, the two terms are casually used interchangeably, but there is a huge difference between the two.

Either way, these two terms impact negatively on the life of the drinker.

Below, we shall explore the tell-tale signs that imply one is into alcoholism, and equally look at the difference between the terms alcoholism and alcohol abuse.

What is Alcohol Abuse?

According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, alcohol abuse is a pattern of drinking that results in harming in ones health, interpersonal skills, and ability to work. For someone abusing alcohol, they make drinking a central and core activity in their lives, displacing other healthy activities. 

Ultimately, alcohol abuse impacts negatively to the life of the drinker. However, unlike alcoholism, alcohol abusers often maintain some capacity to recognise situations that can result to over-binging, or blacking out. To an extent, they can regulate their alcohol intake.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse

Like alcoholism, alcohol abuse similarly has unique signs and symptoms, which include;

  • Loss of control over alcohol. Though alcohol abusers can set some limits to their drinking, most of them often lose control they have set once they start drinking.

  • Using alcohol in physically dangerous instances. In most cases, alcohol abusers find themselves drinking in dangerous activities that carry a risk of legal, health, or financial consequences. Often, alcohol abusers drink and drive, abscond from responsibilities, make irrational financial decisions or always on the wrong side of the law

  • Neglecting responsibilities. This includes not reporting to work, skipping on appointments/commitments, flunking classes, neglecting your kids, poor performance both at school and at work among other responsibilities.

  • Increased anger, or other emotions. It’s common for the alcohol abusers to either get defensive and enraged or submissive and apologetic when confronted with their alcohol abuse. The emotions may depend on the setting.

  • Insomnia, which is later followed by oversleeping

What is Alcoholism?

 Alcoholism is at the apex of the levels of alcohol consumption. It’s also the most serious and worst problem that any drinker can get into.

Interestingly, while other levels of alcohol consumption have a specified number of drink-count, alcoholism does not have the number of bottles that are considered as the go-zone for alcoholism.

Suffers of alcoholism will many at times place their drinking habits before anything else in their life. In a nutshell, they worship alcohol, and nothing, including family obligation, or work may keep them away from their drinking habit.

The transition from Alcohol Abuse to Alcoholism

 While not all alcohol abusers transition to full-blown alcoholics, it’s a big risk factor for alcoholism. In any case, alcohol abuse is considered the first stage of alcoholism.

However, alcoholism can as well develop suddenly due to a myriad of factors such as a sudden break-up, loss of a spouse or parent, retirement, firing or any other major change in one’s life.

In most cases however, alcoholism gradually creeps in after your body develops a tolerance of alcohol. This is to mean that if you are a binge drinker or a regular drinker, the risk of developing alcoholism is potentially higher.

How Does Alcoholism Develop?

The cause of alcoholism is still unknown. However, a generally-accepted theorem asserts that it’s caused by chemical changes in the brain. These chemical changes will at first result to a pleasurable feeling when you drink, thus causing you to want more, even if it causes harm. With time, however, your body builds up a physical tolerance for alcohol and the pleasurable feelings associated with alcohol wane and eventually go away.

However, their bodies are already hard-wired to the effects of alcohol, and they will engage in further drinking to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Typical withdrawal symptoms include concussion, blacking out, trembling, among other. These symptoms are not only harmful but lethal and can result in death.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism

If you are unsure of whether you’re into alcoholism or your friend/partner is, the below section shall elucidate. Journey with us as we explore the common signs and symptoms of alcoholism.

The below list is by no means exhaustive, and having one signs does not necessarily mean you are into alcoholism. However, if you have two or more, it’s more likely that you might be into alcoholism and you need immediate help.

For his section, we shall divide the signs and symptoms into two; Physical and Psychological Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse and Behavioural signs and symptoms.

Physical and Psychological Symptoms of Alcoholism

Blacking out. Drinking too much equates to giving yourself temporary amnesia. Blackout results to temporary memory loss to an extent you do not remember what happened.

Drinking too much. Drinkers in control of their habit can set a limit to what they consider is too much for them. Alcoholics, on the other hand, do not have control of their drinking and are incapable of sticking to their limits.

Alcohol tolerance. For the alcoholics, their brains have become tolerant to alcohol, meaning they need more of the alcohol to achieve the same “high” feeling.

Hangover without drinking. For the regular drinkers, hangover often comes after night-out drinking. Conversely, for alcoholics, the effects of a hangover are reversed. They tend to feel slummy, achy, and over-tired even without working. Interestingly, drinking does magic and helps in overcoming the feeling. 

Other physical signs include:

  • Weight loss due to the neglect of food over alcohol

  • A bloated and swollen face

  • Yellow skin and eyes due to liver damage

  • Broken capillaries on the face

  • Cuts, bruises, and dents on the face

  • General uncleanliness

  •  Dry and cracked skin due to the dehydrating effects of alcohol

  • Frequent and malodorous alcohol breath

Behavioural and Emotional Symptoms of Alcoholism

Lying or Hiding their Drinking. Denial is a common issue with alcoholics. Lying or secretly drinking becomes a norm, and they think their drinking might seem less of an issue.

Irritability and mood swings. If you are regularly experiencing emotional imbalance with bursts of temper, or anger, then you need immediate help.

Shame. Like all substance abuse, alcoholism comes with guilt and shame, in knowing that you`re addicted and do not have the power over alcohol.

Withdrawal symptoms. Long-term alcohol use can put you at risk of serious medical consequences. Typical withdrawal symptoms of alcoholism include;

  • Tremors

  • Shivering

  • Convulsions

  • Profuse sweating, even during the cold condition

  • Seizures

  • Insomnia

  •  Hallucination

  • Anxiety

  • Agitation

Other signs and symptoms include:

  • Anxiety, depression, and mental health issues

  • Isolation

  • Unpredictability

  • Unreliable and untrustworthy

  • Neglecting family and friends

  • Hysteria

  • Panic

Seeking A Solution

Unlike other drugs, alcohol detoxification is extremely hard to come by and often places your life in danger. Sudden discontinuation of alcohol can result in a condition known as delirium tremens, which is fatal. Therefore, for successful alcohol detoxification, you will need the help of experts.