Signs of Alcohol Addiction: Symptoms & Things To Watch For


Alcohol use is dominant in the US, with 62.3% of people above 12 having enjoyed it in the last year. While booze is socially accepted, many people struggle with controlling their drinking.

If you’re living with alcoholism or notice that your loved one struggles with addiction, there’s no reason to live in denial. There are various signs of alcohol addiction to show that you can’t regulate drinking.

Read on to learn more about addiction and possible remedies.

Is Drinking Alcohol Addictive?

Despite social approval, alcohol is addictive and responsible for several deaths in the US. What is it about alcohol that causes users to crave more?

Alcohol consumption causes the brain to release more dopamine, a hormone and neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. This feeling intensifies the desire to keep drinking and can lead to alcohol addiction.

Various factors play a role in the development of alcoholism, including:

  • Environmental influences: The environment in which a person grows or lives contributes to alcoholism – the more prevalent alcohol is in an environment, the more potential a person is to develop alcohol addiction. Also, factors like peer pressure, family views on alcohol, and early exposure to booze can cause dependency.
  • Psychological factors: Alcoholism can be exacerbated by underlying psychological problems, including anxiety, depression, trauma, and stress. Some people can resort to alcohol as a form of self-medication to deal with psychological or emotional struggles.
  • Genetic factors: There’s evidence that genetics influence alcoholism. Certain people may have an inherited trait that renders them prone to develop alcoholism. Genetic differences can influence how your body metabolizes alcohol and how your brain reacts to its effects.

What Symptoms Does Drinking Alcohol Cause?

Alcohol addiction can be daunting to detect because it’s typically accepted in most countries, unlike drugs like cocaine and heroin. It’s a staple at the heart of social interactions and is associated with festivities and enjoyment.

So, it can be difficult to distinguish between someone who enjoys a few drinks now and again and someone who has an addiction problem. Here are common symptoms that drinking alcohol causes.

1. Slurred Speech

Alcohol serves as a depressant, lowering central nervous system activity. It interferes with the correct functioning of the muscles involved in word articulation, causing a significant shift in speech patterns. As a result, when you drink alcohol, you may have slurred speech, with words that seem muttered, indistinct, or distorted.

2. Impaired Coordination

When blood alcohol reaches the brain, it impacts the central nervous system, affecting various cognitive and motor functions. These effects can manifest as stumbling, unstable movements, or trouble executing tasks requiring fine motor skills.

3. Headaches and Dizziness

Alcohol is a diuretic, which causes increased production of urine and hence, dehydration. This dehydration and toxic by-products of alcohol metabolism can aggravate symptoms of headache and dizziness. Moreover, alcohol affects blood vessels, causing them to dilate or expand in the brain, which can cause headaches.

4. Impaired Judgment and Decision-Making

Alcohol impairs the brain’s capacity to comprehend information and make rational judgments. It inhibits cognitive abilities such as reasoning, critical thinking, and problem-solving.

Consequently, people under the influence of alcohol may demonstrate poor judgment, engage in dangerous actions, and make choices they wouldn’t normally make while sober.

5. Nausea and Vomiting

Alcohol can make you feel nauseated because it irritates the lining of your stomach and increases the production of stomach acid.

Additionally, it could mess with the function of the digestive system, creating an imbalance that results in nausea and vomiting symptoms. Sometimes, the body can try to eliminate the alcohol by inducing vomiting.

6. Sleep Disturbances

While alcohol might initially make you tired or sleepy, it can impair your normal sleep patterns. It can affect sleep quality and depth, resulting in interrupted or restless sleep. Therefore, following a night of drinking, you may feel tired in the morning.

3 Signs a Person Might Have an Alcohol Problem: Things to Watch For

People with an alcohol problem can exhibit various signs that indicate dependence. Although having any of these signs doesn’t always guarantee the presence of an addiction problem, they can act as a warning and grounds for further examination.

Here are three alcohol addiction signs to keep an eye out for.

1. Increased Tolerance

Increased tolerance might be an early indicator of alcoholism. It means that the body has gotten acclimated to the presence of alcohol and that higher amounts are necessary to obtain the intended effect.

If you consume alcohol frequently, your body and brain will adapt to its influence. With continued indulgence, your brain will adapt to offset the depressant effects of alcohol. As a result, you’ll get decreased effects on the same quantity of alcohol.

2. Lack of Control Over Drinking

Another defining sign of alcoholism is the lack of control over drinking, which is one of the diagnostic criteria for the problem. It signifies a lack of control over alcohol usage, and the individual becomes continually motivated by the urge to satisfy their alcohol cravings.

People struggling with alcoholism sometimes battle to set limits or stick to their drinking plans. Such people may experience failed attempts to moderate or cut down alcohol use, and despite the dire consequences, they find it difficult to stop or manage their consumption.

3. Neglecting Responsibilities and Activities

When a person prioritizes alcohol consumption over responsibilities and other life activities, it can indicate a problematic connection with the drink.

This negligence results in far-reaching negative effects in various aspects of life, including:

  • Loss of interest in hobbies and social activities.
  • Family and relationship issues
  • Work and school problems
  • Financial strain

At What Point Is Drinking Alcohol a Problem?

Moderate alcohol consumption isn’t a problem for most people, but if it gets out of control, it can be detrimental. Typically, you can deal with experimentation with alcohol, which is common among young adults.

As your body gets used to alcohol, you’ll move from the experimentation stage and increase the amount of alcohol you consume. This stage isn’t alarming as long as you can control your consumption. The increased drinking stage can lead to an addiction problem if not regulated.

Drinking alcohol becomes a problem when it negatively affects various aspects of a person’s life, including physical health, relationships, mental well-being, and overall functioning.

At this point, you don’t drink just for enjoyment but to meet your psychological and physical need to drink.

It’s vital to keep in mind that the threshold at which alcohol consumption becomes a problem may vary from person to person. However, the constant display of signs of alcoholism is a red flag that you should seek help.

How Do You Deal with Someone Who Has an Alcohol Problem?

Coping with alcohol addiction can be challenging. For effective outcomes, the person with an alcohol problem must be willing and ready to walk the recovery journey. Success is based on the person’s drive to get better.

Here are options to deal with someone living with alcoholism.

1. Rehab

The most common step to recovering from alcohol addiction is joining a rehabilitation program. You can opt for an inpatient or outpatient program, depending on your needs.

The initial runs for 30 days to a year and is effective in helping you cope with withdrawal symptoms and emotional challenges.

Conversely, the outpatient program offers the patient daily care and the freedom to stay home.

2. Alcoholics Support Groups

Joining support organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), SMART Recovery, or Sober Recovery can serve as a great source of continued support and guidance during the recovery process.

These groups provide a sense of community and a forum for sharing relatable experiences with people who have encountered similar alcohol problems.

Other treatment options for people with alcoholism include:

  • Psychological counseling
  • Drug therapy
  • Spiritual practice

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are FAQs to provide more insight into alcohol addiction.

How Much Alcohol is Too Much?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), binge drinking is four or more drinks for women or five or more for men on one occasion.

What Happens in the Body of an Alcoholic?

Chronic or excessive consumption of alcohol can cause detrimental effects on the body of an alcoholic, including:

Additional Addictions to Watch For

Besides alcohol addiction, various addictions negatively impact your life and well-being. Here are common addictions you should keep an eye on:

  • Signs of Drug Addiction: Drug addiction is a condition that impacts the brain and behavior of a person, resulting in the inability to effectively control the use of a legal or illegal drug, despite the harm it can cause.
  • Signs of Caffeine Addiction: Caffeine addiction is the dependence on caffeine – a naturally occurring stimulant in various beverages, such as energy drinks, coffee, and tea, and some caffeinated foods, like chocolate and medications.
  • Signs of Opioid Addiction: Opioid addiction is characterized by persistent and compulsive routine use of opioid drugs regardless of negative consequences.

Wrapping Up

Identifying the warning signs of alcohol addiction is vital for timely intervention and recovery.

However, it’s essential to approach people living with alcoholism with compassion and support, encouraging them to get professional help and offering insightful self-help resources. Battling alcoholism is a journey; with effective support and intervention, recovery is imminent.


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