Alcoholics often start their habit with good intentions. Knowing when social drinking becomes problem drinking is not the easiest diagnosis and addicts likely resist the idea of being labelled an 'alcoholic'. The development of alcoholism often arrives largely unnoticed. It is thus vital friends and family recognise the early signs of alcoholism's development. The ability to recognise these signs give family and friends the power to seek professional help before health and relationship problems arise.
Signs of alcoholism tend to be psychological in nature. Symptoms of alcoholism tend to be physical in nature. Below we outline both.
Signs of Alcohol Dependency
#1. Consuming alcohol in order to avoid life's stresses
One sign of alcohol dependency is when a person consumes alcohol in order to avoid life's stresses. Rather than find alternative outlets for dealing with stress, alcoholics turn to drinking each time the going gets tough.
#2. Alcohol consumption is accompanied by feelings of guilt
Those with a dependency on alcohol often hide their drinking even when it is clear to all those concerned. However, it is rare for addicts to completely deny damage the addiction inflicts on relationships. Alcoholics thus feel guilty because of their drinking.
If the person you suspect to be an alcohol demonstrates guilt, this is a sure sign professional help should be sought.
#3. The drinker lies in order to conceal his or her drinking habits
In order to decrease feelings of guilt surrounding alcohol consumption, addicts often lie in order to conceal their drinking from family and friends. Lies are often easily detectable by those who must endear them.
#4. Addict neglects important responsibilities
Responsibilities neglected include neglecting children, work duties, academic tasks or personal hygiene. Each carries significant personal and professional tragedy. It is not uncommon for addicts to lose custody of children, become unemployed and suffer significant mental and physical problems as a result of their dependency.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, IV, describes alcoholism as ‘drinking despite alcohol-related physical, social, psychological, or occupational problems'. Neglecting key responsibilities in life would logically seem to fit in with this definition.
#5. The drinker insists on consuming alcohol even in situations where it is illegal or dangerous to do so
One sure sign of alcoholism is when drinkers insist on consuming alcohol even when it is plainly dangerous or illegal to do so. Alcoholics are more likely to engage in drink-driving or drinking whilst operating heavy machinery or when taking a cocktail of prescription drugs.
Symptoms of Alcoholism
Alcoholism causes several chemical changes in the brain. When alcohol consumption is ceased the brain restores chemical balances. The brain goes into 'hyperactivity' as chemical processes go into overdrive. A number of physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms arise.
Withdrawal symptoms include:
Symptoms are potentially life-threatening and addicts are urged to seek professional help.
Life-threatening symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal include:
- Delirium tremens
If the above symptoms are experienced during withdrawal addicts are advised to seek out support as soon as possible.
Long-term alcohol dependency gives rise to a number of life-threatening conditions such as heart disease, dementia, peptic ulcers and a number of alcohol-related liver diseases such as cirrhosis.
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