Because drinking is such an integral part of socializing, it is sometimes hard to distinguish between the fine line of moderate social drinking and problem drinking. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse can occur when consuming alcohol products to feel good or to avoid dealing with situations or emotions. It is often hard for an alcoholic to recognize a problem, but family and friends will notice many telltale signs.
What Is Alcohol Abuse?
Drinking problems arise from many causes, which include your genetics, family situation, social lifestyle, and your physical and emotional health. The amount you drink is not as critical to defining alcohol addiction as the reason for drinking and the effects of consuming alcohol. The step before becoming an alcoholic is defined as alcohol abuse or alcoholism. In this phase, signs include:
- Drinking instead of performing your regular responsibilities, such as work or caring for your family
- Poor judgment in drinking alcohol and creating danger, such as drinking and driving or taking prescription medications with alcohol
- Drinking just to relax or for stress relief
- Drinking even though it causes problems with your spouse or family
When Does Abuse Become an Addiction?
The major difference in alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction is when you develop a physical dependence on alcohol to function. The drive for another drink exceeds your ability to avoid having one more drink. More and more alcohol is required to give you the same satisfaction as tolerance sets in.
Another sign of addiction is what happens when you decrease or stop alcohol consumption. Since your body has adapted to the presence of alcohol as normal, withdrawal symptoms set in immediately once alcohol is withheld. Common symptoms of withdrawal include shakiness, headache, irritability, anxiety, depression, fatigue and nausea.
Other Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction
Just making up your mind to stop drinking will not work for most people who are addicted to alcohol. You may want to quit or cut down on the amount you drink but are unable to do so. You may recognize that you are losing your family and friends because of your habit but you’re unable to change. You may deny that you have a problem but your close associates keep reminding you that you do. Alcohol addiction causes many problems in addition to social and relational issues. Serious health issues include liver disease, kidney disease and cardiac problems.
If you, or someone you love, exhibits the signs and symptoms of an addiction to alcohol, call our toll free addiction hotline number and speak to one of our staff members. We will help you find a facility to treat your addiction from the initial detox all the way through to long-term supportive care.