Alcoholism is a chronic disease characterised by the emotional and physical obsession to drink alcohol, and the inability to stop despite the negative consequences. It’s also commonly described as an alcohol use disorder but should not be confused with binge drinking. If left untreated, alcoholism can cause irreversible physical and psychological damage; in many cases, the illness can be fatal. Read on to know how to spot the warning signs of alcoholism and how to get your loved one the support they need.
In this post we’ll discuss:
- The signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction
- Is alcoholism reversible?
- What you should do if you think someone is alcohol dependent
- How to treat alcohol dependence
- The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal
- Rehab options for alcoholism
What are the signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction?
Ideally, an alcohol use disorder should be treated as soon as possible, so early detection is important. Warning signs will depend on the severity of the addiction, and how advanced the alcoholism is. Some symptoms are harder to detect, so taking the time to familiarise yourself with the warning signs of alcoholism may just save someone’s life. Symptoms typically manifest physically, psychologically and behaviourally.
What are the behavioural symptoms of alcoholism?
When you’re in the throes of addiction, nothing matters more than getting your next fix, whether it’s drugs, alcohol or gambling. Therefore, you may begin to see changes in a person’s behaviour before you notice any other signs and symptoms of alcoholism. Some of these traits include:
- Lying about drinking
- Asking for money
- Losing interest in hobbies
- Poor work/school performance
- Aggressive/defensive behaviour
- Impulsive behaviour
If you suspect your loved one is suffering from alcohol addiction, or you’re concerned that your drinking is getting out of hand and you wish to avoid any permanent damage, call us today.
Psychological Symptoms of Alcoholism
Alcohol is a mind-altering substance. In addition to feeling intoxicated, over time it interferes with the brain’s communication pathways causing a range of mental issues.
Short-term effects of alcoholism
Some of the most common short-term symptoms of alcohol addiction include, but are not limited to:
- Short-term memory loss
- Lowered inhibitions
- Diminished stress
- Blurred vision
- Sleeping long hours
Long-term effects of alcoholism
Long-term alcohol abuse results in permanent changes to the brain. While some of these changes can be reversed following intensive addiction treatment, they are also signs to look out for if you’re concerned about yourself or your loved one. Common psychological effects include:
- Impaired memory and focus
- Antisocial behaviour both during intoxication and during withdrawal
Physical symptoms of alcoholism
The physical symptoms of an alcohol use disorder are often easier to recognise because the person is usually visibly intoxicated. Some other physical symptoms of alcoholism include:
- Unkempt appearance
- Lack of personal hygiene
- Excessive sweating
- Trouble with balance
- Cognitive impairment
- Bloodshot eyes
- Dry skin
- Yellow eyes as a result of liver damage
Long-term physical effects of alcoholism
In addition to the psychological damage caused by excessive drinking, alcohol is also responsible for many serious illnesses, such as:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Digestive issues
- Liver disease (Cirrhosis)
- Alcohol-induced brain damage
If you know someone who is exhibiting any of the symptoms discussed above, it’s likely they will need professional help to get on top of their addiction. Get in touch today to talk over your options for helping them, from staging a professional addiction intervention to getting them into the ideal rehab for their circumstance. CALL TODAY
Is alcoholism reversible?
With the correct addiction treatment, you can live an alcohol-free life, and some symptoms of alcoholism can even be reversed. However, someone suffering from a severe alcohol use disorder may have already caused irreversible damage to major organs such as the liver and brain. In addition to causing physiological and mental disorders, alcohol abuse can cause cell changes in the brain. On some occasions, these cell changes may indicate dead brain cells. Once brain cells die, the alcohol-induced brain damage is permanent.
What should I do if I think someone is dependent on alcohol?
Alcohol addiction is a lonely disease, it can isolate people and damage relationships, and because of this, it often prevents people from asking for help when they desperately need it. If you suspect your loved one is not being truthful about their alcohol use, it’s very possible they are hiding just how severe their alcohol consumption is. Denial is a common characteristic in people suffering from addiction, making it difficult to get through to them. Staging an intervention can be an effective way to encourage the person to agree to addiction treatment. If your loved one is not open to alcohol rehab just yet, 12-step fellowship meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) may be a good start. Here they will speak and listen to people who have had the same experiences with alcohol, and hearing about how others have overcome alcoholism may give them a nudge in the right direction.
Treating alcohol dependence
In most cases, alcohol abuse will lead to alcohol addiction. Once a physical dependence has been established and the body has built up a tolerance, stopping all alcohol use will result in alcohol withdrawal symptoms. A combination of detox, psychological therapy and addiction counselling is the best way to increase your chances of achieving and maintaining recovery.
What are the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal?
Withdrawal symptoms can be physical and psychological, and range in severity from mild to severe. Typical signs of alcohol withdrawal can include:
- Hand tremors (‘the shakes’)
- A pulse rate above 100 beats per minute
- Loss of appetite
- Insomnia (difficulty sleeping)
Rehab for alcoholism
Alcoholism is a serious illness that requires professional addiction treatment. If you’re seeking treatment for yourself or a loved one, Which Rehab can help. Inpatient rehab is typically recommended for someone suffering from alcoholism. An inpatient clinic can help you manage alcohol withdrawal by prescribing the appropriate medication and allowing you to recover in a safe and comfortable environment where you will receive medical supervision. If you’re unsure about where to start and need advice on which alcohol rehab is right for you, call us today. Our team is happy to talk you through your options and guide you through the next steps.