Clinically Reviewed by Sarah Hogan, MA LPC
Sarah is a Licensed Professional Counselor with 13 years of experience in the behavioral health field as well as a certified provider of Cognitive Processing Therapy for Trauma. She has extensive experience in counseling and case management with local mental health authorities, emergency homeless shelters, leading high acuity response teams, and serving first responders/veterans.
Alcohol is a near-ubiquitous part of modern society: from celebratory champagne to after-work beers, it’s hard to escape. But when does social drinking turn into something more dangerous?
Alcoholism is a serious condition that affects millions, yet many individuals struggle with recognizing the signs and symptoms. In today’s post, we’ll explore what alcoholism means, how it can manifest in different ways, and, most importantly, how you can identify if you or someone close to you may be suffering from this disease.
The Definition Of Alcoholism
Alcoholism, also called an Alcohol Use Disorder or alcohol addiction, is a chronic disease. It’s characterized by an uncontrollable desire to consume alcohol despite the negative consequences it may have on one’s life and health.
Unlike social drinking, where individuals enjoy moderate amounts of alcohol without experiencing any significant issues, alcoholism involves a compulsive need to drink even when it interferes with one’s work, relationships or daily responsibilities.
The condition can be mild or severe and often leads to physical dependence on alcohol. This means that individuals who suffer from alcoholism experience withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, headaches, and tremors when they try to quit drinking.
Alcoholism also has harmful effects on mental health and can lead to depression, anxiety and other psychological disorders. In some cases, it can lead to suicidal thoughts or attempts.
It’s important to note that anyone can develop alcoholism regardless of age, gender or background. However, certain factors increase the risk of developing this condition, including genetics, family history and environmental triggers like stress and trauma.
The Symptoms Of Alcoholism
The most common symptoms of alcoholism are a strong urge to drink, even if it causes problems in your personal and professional life, and wanting to quit drinking or cut down and being unable to. You may find yourself drinking more frequently and in larger amounts than intended.
Another symptom is withdrawal when you stop drinking. This can include:
- And insomnia
These symptoms can be severe enough to require medical attention.
As alcoholism progresses, you may start neglecting responsibilities at work or home because of your drinking habits. You might also experience relationship issues with friends and family due to your behavior while under the influence.
Physical health problems such as liver damage, high blood pressure, and pancreatitis are also common symptoms of long-term alcohol abuse.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms or know someone who is showing signs of alcoholism, it’s crucial to seek professional help immediately. Remember that recovery from addiction is possible with the right treatment plan and support system in place.
The Causes Of Alcohol Use Disorder
Alcoholism is a complex disease that can be caused by various factors. Some people may have a genetic predisposition to alcohol addiction, with studies showing that children of alcoholic parents are up to four times more likely to develop the condition themselves. However, genetics alone cannot explain why some individuals become addicted while others do not.
Environmental and social factors also play a role in the development of alcoholism. People who grow up in homes where heavy drinking is normalized or who experience high levels of stress or trauma may turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism. Social and cultural norms around drinking can also contribute to excessive consumption, particularly among young adults.
In addition, many people turn to alcohol to “self-medicate” from undiagnosed or untreated mental health issues and illnesses like depression and anxiety. If you have a mental health issue, whether diagnosed or not, there is a higher likelihood of becoming addicted to a substance like alcohol.
There is no single cause of alcoholism but rather a combination of genetic, environmental, social and biological factors that work together to increase one’s risk of developing this condition.
Diagnosing alcoholism is a process that involves understanding the signs and symptoms of addiction. However, there are several ways to diagnose if someone is struggling with alcoholism.
One way to diagnose alcoholism is through a physical examination conducted by a healthcare professional. This may include blood tests, liver function tests, and other medical assessments that can determine whether or not an individual’s body has been affected by excessive drinking.
Another way to diagnose alcoholism is through psychological evaluations. These evaluations may involve questionnaires or interviews with mental health professionals who specialize in addiction treatment.
Additionally, family members and loved ones can play an important role in diagnosing alcoholism. They may notice changes in behavior or mood swings that could indicate addiction issues.
It’s important to note that diagnosing alcoholism should always be done by trained professionals, as self-diagnosis can lead to inaccurate conclusions and improper treatment plans. Seeking help from healthcare providers or addiction specialists is crucial for anyone struggling with potential substance abuse issues.
Alcohol Addiction Is Treatable. We Can Help.
It’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of alcoholism in order to seek help as early as possible. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction, don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help.
There are various treatments available for alcoholism, and the most effective one depends on an individual’s specific situation. Most people benefit from a combination of treatments, but the most important thing to know is professional help is almost always necessary.
Remember that recovery from alcoholism is a journey that requires patience, determination, and a willingness to change. With the right support system and treatment plan, it is possible to overcome this disease and lead a fulfilling life in sobriety.
If you suspect that you may have an issue with alcohol abuse or addiction, take action today by calling us at (512) 764-1948. Remember that there is no shame in asking for help. Addiction is a disease, and taking the first step toward recovery can be one of the most empowering decisions you’ll ever make.