Determining if you are struggling with alcoholism requires an in-depth examination of your priorities and habits. Is alcohol your top priority? Do you feel agitated or sick when not drinking? Do you often hide your drinking from others?
If you believe you may be struggling with an addiction to alcohol, you will need to be able to identify the common signs of this addiction, as well as understand the dangers of alcohol abuse if left untreated.
Signs of Alcoholism
Universal signs of addiction include isolation, secretive use, and personality changes, among others. Although alcoholics addicts display these signs, there are indicators specific to alcohol use that suggest addiction has developed. These indicators are listed below.
Experiencing headaches or withdrawal symptoms when not drinking
Once the brain becomes used to the constant presence of alcohol, the absence of it has adverse physical effects on the user. Headaches and nausea are the most common signs of withdrawal.
Short-term memory loss
Prolonged drinking leads to brain damage and shrinkage, impacting the memory and cognitive functioning. Because of this, those struggling with alcoholism typically struggle with memory.
Irritability and mood swings
Alcohol affects the brain’s dopamine regulation. Excessive or prolonged drinking consequently prevents the brain from functioning normally, resulting in extreme agitation, anger and dramatic mood swings.
Neglecting family, employment, finances, or other fundamental responsibilities is a strong indicator of alcoholism. Once addiction has developed, the only remaining responsibility in the mind of the user is obtaining more of their drug of choice.
Alcohol abuse causes the blood vessels within the eyes to swell and sometimes burst, resulting in a constant bloodshot appearance.
Alcohol dehydrates the body, causing it to store excess water. Because alcohol is high in calories, weight gain contributes to bloating as well. Bloating is a frequent sign that addiction has developed.
Dangers of Alcoholism
Due to its legality and accessibility, alcohol yields a very high rate of addiction. According to Harvard Medical School, Alcohol abuse is the second most common form of substance abuse in the United States, after tobacco addiction. An estimated 10% of adult men and 5% of adult women have an alcohol use disorder.
Alcohol severely impacts the heart and liver, leaving them vulnerable to disease and malfunction. Consistent drinking has a significant impact on cardiovascular health. Excessive drinking can raise blood pressure, cause arrhythmia, or cause or heart disease over a prolonged period of time. Drinking in excess also irreversibly harms the liver. Heavy drinking may result in hepatitis, fatty liver disease, portal vein hypertension, cirrhosis, or, ultimately, liver failure.
Although disorders can develop by means of heavy alcohol consumption, drunk driving remains the leading cause of alcohol-related fatalities. Because alcohol slows reaction time and impairs motor skills, car accidents are common among those who abuse alcohol. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 29 people in the United States die each day in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver, totaling one death every 50 minutes.
Treatment for Alcoholism
Addiction is a devastating disease and you do not have to fight it alone. The founders of Asheville Recovery Center, as well as many of our addiction therapists, have struggled with addiction and now enjoy life in recovery. They understand the struggles of addiction and how difficult it is to overcome on your own.
At Asheville Recovery Center, specialists have combined various therapies, treatments and 12-step approaches to develop an effective, hybrid model of treatment designed to fit every individual’s unique circumstances.
If you feel that you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, our specialists are on standby and ready to help. Call (828) 518-6996 and speak with an addiction expert today so you can take the first step towards a rewarding life of sobriety.