Symptoms of Alcoholism

Alcohol addiction starts to be become a problem when the user is reliant on a form of alcohol such as wine, spirits or beer on a regular basis in order for them to ‘get through the day.’ The physical implications of alcohol addiction vary widely and include weight loss or gain, poor skin and teeth, sweating and headaches, to name a few. However, more significantly, the effects that alcohol addiction can have on relationships can be devastating.

The difficulty in understanding whether a friend or relative is addicted to alcohol lies in the fact that many who regularly consume large amounts of alcohol, do so in the privacy of their own home rather than in public at a pub or bar. This means that initially, it can be difficult to spot when an addiction to alcohol is present as well as develop an understanding of just how many units the individual is consuming and how regularly they drink. 

But how much is too much? Regularly consuming over 2-3 units a day, approximately one large glass of wine or a pint of beer, can be dangerous to your health. However, those who are addicted to alcohol will consume considerably more than this.

What are the signs of alcoholism?

Common signs of alcoholism can include:

  • Inflexible pattern of alcohol use
  • Prioritising alcohol over other activities
  • Increased tolerance
  • Appearance of withdrawal symptoms
  • Reinstatement after abstinence

Alcohol dependence includes both physical symptoms and common psychological symptoms. These can indicate that a person is at risk of physical dependence.

What are the emotional symptoms of alcohol abuse?

  • Feeling irritable
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling tearful and emotionally tired
  • Depression
  • Clouded judgement

Signs that you may have an alcohol addiction

  • Drinking for stress relief on a regular basis is often the trigger for many of those who eventually become addicted
  • Deterioration of liver function - those who become addicted will soon stop feeling the effects of alcohol as their tolerance to the substance increases. The main reason for this will be due to the deterioration of liver function. Although it is still not completely understood how alcohol damages the liver, alcohol is the major cause of liver disease in Western countries
  • Increased tolerance towards alcohol - so the more units you drink and the more regularly you drink will eventually lead to an increased tolerance of alcohol. Therefore in order to feel the initial ‘high’ that alcohol brings, those who are addicted will need to drink even more to feel ‘drunk’
  • Anger - if the sufferer of alcohol addiction is already experiencing anxiety, stress or depression, it is often the case that the consumption of alcohol will exacerbate these pre-existing conditions, leading to anger and even physical violence
  • Appearance of withdrawal symptoms  fatigue, nausea, anxiety, feeling shaky or emotionally volatile, can occur if the sufferer hasn’t drank alcohol after a certain period of time
  • Feeling clammy and sweating without reason. For example, not having physically exerted yourself but sweating regardless
  • Weight loss or gain due to lack of/increase of appetite caused by consuming alcohol
  • Headaches caused by dehydration, a side effect of excessive alcohol consumption
  • Lack of sleep due to headaches, dehydration, nausea etc.

7 tips for dealing with the initial stages of alcohol addiction

  1. Admit that you have a problem
  2. Make a commitment to either reduce your drinking habits or stop completely
  3. Set daily goals for yourself, i.e. decide how many drinks you will limit yourself to and stick to it
  4. If your goal is to completely stop drinking alcohol,  set yourself a  realistic date when you will stop drinking alcohol completely
  5. Be honest with friends and family about your problem
  6. Avoid temptations and negative influences
  7. Accept that it will be difficult and prepare yourself for change

If you have concerns about your own levels of alcohol consumption or are worried about a family member or friend, then please seek treatment, by calling: 0800 144 8969.