If you know someone with a drinking problem, you’re likely familiar with all of the common symptoms associated with alcohol abuse — behavioral changes, a constant need to consume more and more alcohol, and a life slowly spiraling out of control.
Alcoholism or Alcohol Use Disorder occurs when an individual no longer has the ability to manage their drinking habits. Alcoholics tend to drink at all hours of the day and have arranged their lives to accommodate their out of control drinking habit.
Alcoholism is commonly organized into three categories — mild, moderate and severe. Each category has a number of symptoms associated with them that can cause the user extreme discomfort.
Signs of Alcoholism
Those who struggle with alcoholism often go to great lengths to hide their addiction. Therefore, it may be difficult to identify whether or not someone is struggling with a drinking problem. Despite this, there are almost always telling signs that make their way to the surface that you can spot if you know what to look for.
Here are some of the most common signs associated with alcoholism:
- Spending a significant amount of money on alcohol
- Behavioral changes while drinking
- An inability to control alcohol consumption
- Putting off personal responsibilities in favor of drinking
- Experiencing a craving to drink while not drinking
These signs are not to be taken lightly. If you or anyone you know is struggling with a drinking problem it’s imperative you get treatment as quickly as you can. It’s better to treat the problem while it’s still in its infancy rather than wait for it to progress to a point where it’s out of control.
Why do people drink?
There are a significant number of reasons why people decide to drink. Take, for example, someone turning to alcohol to help them cope with a death in the family. Another example could include someone struggling with financial problems. There are many reasons why someone may turn to drinking. Let’s look at the most common issues.
To feel good
Alcohol allows you to separate yourself from the realities of day to day life. Some people enjoy the feeling of a buzz to help them relax at the end of the day. Alcohol also loosens inhibitions which allow people to be more courageous or relaxed in social settings.
Take college parties for example, where students drink excessively to “loosen themselves up” so they can have fun. However, casual drinking to loosen yourself up can quickly turn to abuse if you’re not careful with the amount of alcohol you consume on a regular basis.
To cope with loss
As mentioned before, dealing with the loss of a loved one can cause just about anyone to turn to alcohol in an attempt to bury their feelings of sorrow. Alcohol makes it easier to deal with the grief that comes with loss. However, a person may let their strong feelings of grief push them to alcoholism.
Life can be hard. It doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with school, work or a hectic home environment everyone has to deal with some level of stress in their lives. Because alcohol is a sedative, it can help people to relax. This is especially the case for those who find it difficult to relax on their own. There’s nothing wrong with taking a drink to help settle your nerves, but doing so on a regular basis can lead to addiction.
Health problems associated with alcoholism
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been drinking for a single day or an entire year, excessive drinking can lead to a medley of health problems. These health issues can range from minor to excessive, and they typically correspond to the amount of alcohol you have consumed.
One misconception is that only long-term drinking can lead to serious health complications. While short-term drinking typically won’t cause you to experience an issue as serious as liver disease, it can still cause a number of potentially serious or even fatal complications. Take drinking and driving for example, which can be potentially fatal because a driver’s reflexes are typically slowed by alcohol consumption, thus hindering their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle which could lead to a car crash.
With that being said, here are a few complications you may experience with short-term alcohol abuse:
- Blurry vision
- A reduction in brain activity
- Poor reflexes
- Slow reaction time
On the other hand, long-term drinking is often synonymous with health complications. Even if you don’t notice any problems right away, there’s a good chance you may be dealing with deep-seated complications that are lying dormant. This is why you should seek medical assistance if you’ve been drinking for an extended period, such as 6 months or more.
Here are a few long-term complications you may deal with due to prolonged drinking:
- Bone loss
- Heart problems
- Bad vision
- Liver disease
- Brain defects
There are two ways you can battle alcoholism — you can either try to quit on your own (quitting cold turkey), or you can seek help from a professional rehabilitation center. Though quitting cold turkey is always an option it’s almost always advised that you seek the advice of trained professionals who can help you at every stage of your recovery.
It can be dangerous to stop drinking on your own because you may have to deal with potentially life-threatening and difficult to manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms that include anxiety attacks, extreme headaches and heavy bouts of nausea. Rehab centers allow you to recover in a safe environment where you can be treated for severe withdrawal symptoms.
Furthermore, most rehab centers will provide resources that will help achieve long-term sobriety such as access to support groups and counseling sessions with a psychologist.
Battling alcoholism starts with the choice that you’re ready to stop drinking and move forward with your life. Overcoming alcoholism can be very difficult to achieve on your own, but with the help of a rehabilitation center, strong network of friends and family, and other alcoholism resources it can be achieved.