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Am I drinking too much? Signs of alcohol abuse and addiction

It isn’t always easy to recognise when you’re drinking too much. Unhealthy habits can build up gradually, where you don’t recognise the impact they are having on your mind and body until later on down the line.

If someone has raised concerns over your drinking, or if you’ve started to worry that alcohol has become a problem for you, keep reading to find out the signs of addiction, the importance of seeking support as well as the help that is available here at Priory Group.

How much alcohol is too much?

It is recommended that both men and women do not regularly exceed more than 14 units of alcohol per week. One UK unit is equivalent to 10ml (8g) of pure alcohol, which is the amount that an average healthy adult can break down in around one hour.

These are examples of what one unit of alcohol looks like:

  • Half a pint of lager at 3.6% ABV
  • One single (25ml) measure of spirit at 40% ABV
  • One-half of a standard medium (175ml) glass of wine, at 12% ABV

For anyone consuming the maximum weekly amount, guidelines advise that these units are spread over three or more days. If you want to cut down on the amount that you’re drinking, it’s healthier to have several non-drinking days per week.

Recent studies have highlighted the fact that no amount of alcohol consumption can be deemed as entirely ‘safe’.

What are the typical signs of alcohol addiction?

These are some of the signs that could suggest that you are misusing alcohol.

Physical signs of alcohol addiction

  • Feeling constantly / excessively tired
  • Experiencing regular headaches due to dehydration
  • Sweating a lot, even without physical activity
  • Having an increased/decreased appetite, potentially accompanied by weight loss/gain
  • Insomnia
  • Withdrawal symptoms when stopping or reducing drinking

You can read more about the physical signs of alcoholism here.

Psychological signs of alcohol addiction

  • Anxiety (either new or exacerbating an existing condition)
  • Depression (either new or exacerbating an existing condition)
  • Mood swings
  • Memory issues
  • Paranoia
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Intensely craving alcohol

Behavioural signs of alcohol addiction

  • Often drinking heavily alone
  • Behaving secretively or dishonestly
  • Drinking until you pass out
  • Drinking at irregular times, such as when you wake up
  • Withdrawing from social contact and / or responsibilities

What are the risks of alcohol addiction?

If you continue to drink high levels of alcohol, there are various side effects and risks that can affect your physical health, mental health and lifestyle, both in the short-term and long-term.

Short-term risks of alcohol addiction

Alcohol affects us very quickly, however much we drink. When it comes to heavy drinking, you are exposing yourself to some or all of these short-term risks:

  • Vomiting
  • Impacted vision
  • Passing out
  • Alcohol poisoning

Long-term risks of alcohol addiction

There are also the longer-term risks, which can seriously threaten your health and life:

  • Liver damage
  • Cancer
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Nerve damage
  • Irreversible brain damage
  • Increased cardio-vascular risk

In addition to this, many people struggling with alcohol addiction find that their drinking damages their relationships with loved ones, friends and colleagues.

It is important to know that the longer you misuse alcohol, the more difficult it can become to regain control over your life, relationships and responsibilities.

How to get help for alcohol addiction

Acknowledging that you may have a problem with alcohol is a big step, so you should be proud of that. If you want to reduce the amount you drink, it is crucial that you talk to someone. Enlisting emotional support will help you recognise that you’re not alone, and will ensure that you have someone by your side as you take your first steps towards recovery.

Our experienced specialists at Priory Group have treated many people struggling with alcohol addiction, helping them to live a happier day-to-day life with significant relief from their former symptoms. We offer a range of treatment options, from alcohol detoxification to therapeutic support, which are provided through the following alcohol addiction treatment programmes:

Alcohol detoxification

Our alcohol detox programme may be recommended as part of residential alcohol addiction treatment. Our specialist addiction consultants are highly skilled at offering carefully tailored, medically assisted detoxifications from alcohol, where required. Our clinical practice is based on the newest clinical developments and informed by clinical research.

Residential alcohol addiction treatment

Our Addiction Treatment Programmes for alcoholism last for a recommended 28 days, although other lengths of stay are available. These programmes take place at our nationwide hospitals, with 24-hour support and structured daily therapy sessions, in both individual and group formats.

We base our treatment on the 12-Step model, which takes an abstinence-based approach and outlines guiding principles for recovery. We also offer family and couples therapy within our private rehab programme, as well as free aftercare and family support for 12 months (both of these are available for life at Priory Hospital Roehampton and Manor Clinic).

Outpatient / day care alcohol addiction treatment

Our outpatient therapy programmes are available at Priory Wellbeing Centres across the UK. We can also offer treatment in a day care format, where people work through a full programme of treatment across a series of days or half-days, having the opportunity return home in the evenings.

If you would like to find out more about the support we can provide for you here at Priory Group, get in touch today for a free no-obligation assessment. This will give you an opportunity to talk to our team and find out the treatment programme that will be most effective for you and your recovery.

Blog reviewed by Dr Radu Iosub (MBBS, MRCPsych, CCT in General Adult and Addiction Psychiatry), Visiting Consultant Psychiatrist at Priory Hospital Bristol

For details of how Priory can provide you with assistance regarding mental health and wellbeing, please call 0800 840 3219 or click here to submit an enquiry form. For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here

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