What are the signs & symptoms of alcoholism?

The mere thought you could be suffering from alcoholism is likely one you will attempt to hide. The act of hiding your alcoholism is known as denial. You are perhaps the most ill-able to diagnose your own alcoholism precisely because you are so emotionally affected by such a diagnosis. Undoubtedly, it is difficult, and if not impossible for you to rationally assess whether or not you suffer from alcoholism.

In this article, we offer you information that will help to objectify your situation vis-à-vis your alcoholism. We specifically identify many of the tell-tail signs and symptoms of alcoholism that may help you to make a rough diagnosis. Without being accused of stating the obvious, you must not substitute this information for actual and tailored medical advice from a GP or physician.

What is alcoholism?

Many people reading this article will admit they suffer from problem drinking. Here, we try to differentiate between problem drinking and alcoholism. Perhaps the most pronounced difference between problem drinking and alcoholism is that the latter will mean you are physically dependant on alcohol. When you suffer from alcoholism, you must continue to drink alcohol in order to avoid painful and even deadly withdrawal symptoms.

In contrast, when you suffer from problem drinking, you cannot be said to be physically dependant on alcohol, although you will experience a psychological addiction to alcohol.  This means you will not suffer from alcohol withdrawal symptoms when you are merely suffering from problem drinking.

For this sole reason, problem drinking is not considered a form of physical alcohol addiction. Notwithstanding this fact, problem drinking’s impact must not be understated. Problem drinking negatively affects millions of people each day. Problem drinking affects individuals’ health, family life, and psychological well-being in ways akin to full-blown alcoholism.

Individuals who experience problem drinking are relatively likely to go on and develop alcoholism, so it is important to seek treatment for problem drinking before alcoholism is given enough time to develop.

There also exists a clear relationship between problem drinking and full-blown alcoholism. For this reason, there exist many overlapping symptoms that apply equally to problem drinking and to alcoholism.

The signs of alcoholism AND problem drinking

Below, we list signs indicating both alcoholism and problem drinking:

  1. You neglect your work, school or domestic responsibilities: alcoholism and problem drinking affect your career and education progression alike. The two also impact your relationships with loved ones
  2. You experience psychological withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking: these symptoms include mood swings, loss of appetite, insomnia, cravings for alcohol, tiredness, anxiety, depression and being preoccupied with drinking
  3. You experience blackouts on a regular basis: blackouts occur when you drink vast amounts of alcohol in one sitting. When you experience a blackout, you will be unable to recall what happened during and before the blackout occurred
  4. Your relationships suffer because of your drinking: if your drinking is testing your relationships with multiple friends, loved ones and colleagues, this may signify you are experiencing either alcoholism or problem drinking. Many people with an alcohol problem will ‘burn through’ relationships for reasons either directly or indirectly attributable to their drinking
  5. You hide alcohol and lie to loved ones about your drinking: lying about your drinking is a sign of denial. Lying about your drinking may help you to cover up the extent of your problem, at least temporarily. However, in time, your lies are likely to catch up with you. Put simply, signs you suffer from alcoholism or problem drinking are overtly obvious to those around you. The evidence of your drinking problem will continue to amass, meaning you simply will not be believed when you plead you have not been drinking when in fact you have
  6. You drink alcohol to improve your mood: one sign of alcoholism and problem drinking is that you turn to alcohol to solve your emotional problems. If you are drinking for these reasons, then you are, by definition, suffering from a psychological addiction to alcohol. Many people experiencing problem drinking or alcoholism drink in order to self-medicate negative emotional conditions such as depression and anxiety
  7. You are unable to stop drinking alcohol once you begin: this means you are unable to stop drinking until you have drunk all the alcohol stored in your home. Once you have finished drinking all the alcohol in your home, you are likely to go out and buy more alcohol. This indicates your drinking is out of control
  8. You wish to stop drinking but you can’t: many people suffering from alcoholism and problem drinking categorically state a conscious wish to stop drinking. However, they are unable to stop drinking for many complex social, biological and emotional reasons. If you wish to stop drinking and you can’t, you may need to undertake alcohol rehab treatment in order to fulfil your wish to stop drinking
  9. You drink alcohol when it is either inappropriate or unsafe to do so: if you drink and drive, drink when taking medication or drink whilst at work or in school, you are probably suffering from problem drinking or alcoholism. Another sign of these disorders is when you drink alcohol whilst looking after your young children

If you relate to one or two of the above symptoms of alcoholism and problem drinking, this may not indicate you suffer from either of these disorders. If you struggle with four or more of the above symptoms, then you could be experiencing problem drinking or alcoholism.

The signs and symptoms of alcoholism

To determine whether or not you are suffering from alcoholism, we shall need to examine a number of additional signs and symptoms. These symptoms typically go over and over mere ‘problem drinking’.

We list the signs and symptoms of alcoholism below:

  • You suffer from physical withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to stop drinking alcohol. These symptoms include: nausea, shaky hands, hallucinations, and dripping with sweat when alcohol is not consumed
  • You drink alcohol on a daily basis
  • You spend a lot of time recovering from drinking sessions
  • You give up activities and hobbies so you may spend more time drinking alcohol
  • You continue to drink alcohol, despite significant negative consequences that occur when you do so
  • You begin drinking early in the day, and you are drunk for most of the day
  • You drink in isolation away from friends and family members
  • You become forgetful. This is a sign you may be beginning to develop Wernicke- Korsakoff’s Syndrome (WKS)

Why you should not ignore the symptoms of alcoholism and problem drinking

Both alcoholism and problem drinking inflict a heavy toll on your mental and physical health, as well as damaging your career, education and loving relationships. Both disorders are known to significantly shorten your lifespan. Put simply, you are more likely to suffer a premature death when you drink significant amounts of alcohol. You are also more likely to harm your loved ones who must witness your descent into full-blown alcoholism.

For instance, in Russia, around 20% of male deaths are related to alcoholism. In China, Eastern Europe and in Central America, around 5-10% of all deaths are linked to alcohol abuse and alcoholism. The main cause of death due to alcohol abuse is cirrhosis. Cirrhosis involves scarring of the liver. When the liver becomes scarred, blood backs up into the oesophagus. If the narrow veins lining the oesophagus burst, the person will bleed to death.

Getting help for alcohol addiction

To learn about how to avoid this painful death, contact Rehab 4 Alcoholism today on 0800 111 4108.   The vast majority of people suffering from alcoholism will benefit from spending time in an alcohol rehab clinic. Contact us today for more information.