Warning Signs of Alcoholism

Alcoholism is an insidious disease that can take you by surprise.

Alcohol rehab near me? For some people, the slide into alcoholism, or alcohol use disorder, is obvious. Maybe they took their first sip of wine as a young adult and never looked back. But, for others, becoming addicted to alcohol is more of a slippery slope. One night of binge drinking spawns another and then another, until, suddenly, life feels a little out of control.

It can feel uncomfortable to confront yourself and your behaviors regarding alcohol use and the effects of alcohol on your life. However, addressing a condition as devastating as alcoholism is one of the most important things that you can do to support your health and your future.

Read on to learn about the warning signs of alcoholism and what you can do if you’re worried about abusing alcohol.

Taking a Close Look at Heavy Drinking Behaviors

According to experts, alcohol is the most frequently misused substance in the United States. However, misusing alcohol by drinking excessively is not necessarily the same as abusing alcohol in an addictive way. In fact, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the majority of people who drink alcohol in excess are not addicted to alcohol or considered to have alcoholism or alcohol use disorder.

Alcohol use is heavily ingrained in American culture and other cultures throughout the globe. Popular media tends to elevate alcohol, and it’s easy to be influenced by the images you see on television and the internet. Because it’s so pervasive, it’s also hard to know what a “normal” relationship with alcohol looks like and what gets considered excessive.

According to the CDC, excessive alcohol drinking can get identified by the following:

  • Binge drinking – 5 or more drinks within a short period (about 2 hours) in men, or 4 or more drinks within a short period in women
  • Heavy drinking – 15 or more drinks per week in men, or 8 or more drinking per week in women
  • Using alcohol before you are the legal drinking age
  • Using alcohol while pregnant

Regardless of whether a person has true alcoholism, excessive drinking is not benign. The consequences of heavy drinking can be fatal. In fact, according to the CDC, more than 95,000 Americans die from excessive alcohol drinking each year.

While excessive drinking is not the same as alcohol addiction, alcoholism can increase a person’s participation in excessive drinking. That is why it’s important to understand the definition of alcoholism and spot its warning signs.

What Is the Definition of Alcoholism?

Alcoholism refers to the specific power that alcohol can have on a person’s life. It gets defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as “an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupation, or health consequences.” If you are worried that you have been drinking alcohol in an addictive way, you are not alone. 14 million Americans struggle with alcoholism each year.

Alcohol Rehab Near Me: How to Spot the Warning Signs of Alcoholism

It can be challenging to see the signs of alcoholism in your own life, particularly if you are unclear whether your heavy drinking gets classified as excessive drinking or an alcohol use disorder. However, doing some investigation in the short term to uncover an addiction can help you achieve better health in the long term. Here are the cardinal warning signs of alcoholism, as outlined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

You’re Drinking Alcohol in Larger Amounts Than You’d Originally Planned

If you accepted an invitation out last night with the contingency that it would be “just one drink,” or “just a couple hours,” but you ended up staying out past 1 a.m. binge drinking and woke up with a major hangover, it may be a sign of alcoholism. Continuously failing to stick to your predetermined guidelines with your alcohol intake and having a hard time stopping once you start drinking could mean that you’re venturing toward alcoholism.

You’re Feeling Like You Need to Cut Down on Your Drinking

If you sometimes feel like you need to reduce the amount of alcohol you drink but remain unable to do it on your own, it may be a sign of alcoholism. You may tell yourself you will stop for good once you finish off a bottle, but then you may find yourself going to the store to buy more when your supply runs out.

You Spend a Lot of Time Thinking About Drinking

Even if you aren’t drinking alcohol that frequently, you may find that you are always mentally preoccupied with the thought of alcohol. You may feel like you waste a lot of time each day thinking about alcohol, making plans to get alcohol, or recovering from the alcohol you did drink—let alone the time that you spend drinking it.

You’re Craving Alcohol?

This warning sign of alcoholism can be tricky—it’s easy to want a beer at a sunny baseball game or a glass of wine with a plate of spaghetti and meatballs—but craving alcohol regularly can be a sign that alcohol is taking more control of your life.

The Wheels Are Coming Off Other Aspects of Your Life

If you are developing alcoholism, you may find that your home life, professional life, or academic life is suffering. Perhaps you are forgetting deadlines, missing assignments, or simply forgetting to pick up milk at the grocery again. Each oversight might seem small on its own, but when a person is becoming addicted to alcohol, they can experience a cumulative unraveling of other areas of their life that don’t involve alcohol because alcohol is consuming so much of their time and attention.

You’ve Lost Interest In Your Old Hobbies

Alcohol is the universal placeholder. No matter what you might have found enjoyable previously if you are beginning to develop an alcohol use disorder, you might find yourself losing interest in it. Whether it’s an activity, a place you travel to, or even a person or relationship you once enjoyed, all are playing second fiddle to the alcohol.

You’ve Seen the Effects of Alcohol on Your Life – And Continued to Drink

When you’re developing an alcohol addiction, you’re not living under a rock. You can see and feel the consequences of your drinking, and they likely affect you greatly. Many people will feel guilty about their alcohol use and want to reduce their use because they can see the negative impact that it is having on their mental health, relationships, and life overall. Their alcohol use may be even causing other health problems, and yet they continue to drink.

You Keep Drinking Even When It Has Bad Side Effects

Another warning sign of alcoholism is if you have blacked out or had another dangerous close call while drinking, but you’ve continued to drink. If a person is addicted to alcohol, they can no longer control their use, and they may keep drinking even when they recognize that it makes them feel worse.

You’ve Had to Increase Your Use to Get the Same Effect

Alcohol abuse is similar to other forms of substance abuse in that a syndrome known as tolerance can develop with heavy use. Tolerance refers to the fact that your body adjusts to the presence of alcohol, and it requires a bigger dose or quantity each time to get the same effect. In alcoholism, these desired effects may be lessened anxiety, feelings of relaxation, or the sensation of being free of worry. Whatever it may be that draws you toward drinking alcohol, you may find that it is taking more and more booze to achieve that feeling.

You’ve Had Withdrawal Symptoms

If you’ve had symptoms of alcohol withdrawal—such as fatigue, loss of appetite, depression, anxiety, irritability, headaches, sleep disturbances, restlessness, or excessive sweating when you stopped drinking—you may have used alcohol to help these uncomfortable feelings go away. However, one of the signs of alcohol addiction is drinking just to stave off withdrawal.

What to Do if You’ve Had Warning Signs of Alcoholism: Alcohol Rehab Near Me

It can be concerning to recognize signs of alcoholism in yourself or someone you love. However, you can seek medical advice for your condition and pursue structured treatment in a rehabilitative facility. Rehab programs that specialize in alcohol addiction remain judgment-free zones where you can discuss your concerns and decide the type of treatment best suited for your lifestyle.

How to Find Help if You Are Struggling With Alcoholism

If you live in South Florida and struggle with alcoholism, the Recovery Team is here to help. At our state-of-the-art treatment facility, we use evidence-based treatment methods to help our patients safely and comfortably withdraw from alcohol and begin their recovery journey to sobriety.

We have a 25-year history of helping people who have recognized the warning signs of alcoholism in themselves and wanted to make a positive change in their life.

Contact us today for further information.