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The Climb

Alcohol Addiction Treatment: Alcoholism Signs

Jul 25, 2018 9:00:00 AM / by Ascension Recovery Services

Alcoholism is a serious matter. According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 15.1 million adults ages 18 and older had alcohol use disorder.

There are several warning signs that can indicate you or a loved one is suffering from alcoholism. Read on to learn more, as well as treatment options.


Alcoholism is the most severe form of alcohol abuse that involves the inability to control drinking due to physical and emotional dependence on alcohol. It can also be referred to as alcohol use disorder (AUD).

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition (DSM-5), alcoholism is organized in three categories: Mild, moderate and severe:

  • Mild: The presence of two or three symptoms
  • Moderate: The presence of four or five symptoms
  • Severe: The presence of six or more symptoms

These 11 signs of alcoholism listed in the DSM-5 are used to determine if someone has AUD.:

  1. Alcohol is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period of time than intended.
  2. Unsuccessful effort to cut down or control alcohol use.
  3. A lot of time spent doing activities to obtain alcohol or recover from its effects.
  4. Craving or strong desire to use alcohol.
  5. Recurrent alcohol use in situations that are physically harmful.
  6. Continuous alcohol use despite having recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused by effects of alcohol.
  7. Important occupational, social or recreational activities are given up because of alcohol use.
  8. Alcohol use is continued despite having knowledge of a recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely caused by alcohol.
  9. A need for increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication or desired effect.
  10. Alcohol is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.
  11. Recurrent alcohol use that results in failure to fulfill obligations at school, work or home.

When alcoholism is discovered in early stages, the chance for a successful recovery increases.

Warning signs of alcoholism can be categorized as social, physical and emotional:

Social signs:

alcoholism signs
  • Trouble with the law: Getting into legal trouble because of drinking, including public intoxication or criminal charges because of being drunk.
  • Affected relationships: It is not good when drinking starts to negatively affect yourpersonal relationships, whether this includes your significant other or children.
  • Poor performance: Performance at school or work is suffering due to alcohol. Replacing study time with drinking or coming hungover to work may indicate that an alcohol addiction is forming.
  • Making excuses: If you or someone you know are making excuses in order to drink more, there is a good chance that a drinking problem is developing.

Physical signs:

  • Appearance change: Your hygiene or appearance is changing because of drinking.
  • Drinking on the daily: If you or someone you know drinks alcohol everyday, there is a chance they are an alcoholic. Blacking out from excessive drinking can occur.
  • Withdrawal symptoms: If you wake up feeling hungover but did not drink the night before, you may be experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
  • Shaky Hands: Someone with AUD will often have shaky hands or tremors in the morning before they have their first drink of alcohol.
  • Insomnia: The inability to sleep because of alcohol, depression can also be a symptom.
  • No limit: Drinking more than you intended or drinking until you can’t drink anymore are signs of alcoholism. Those in control of their drinking are able to set limits and not exceed them.

Emotional signs:

  • Denial: If you deny that you have a problem, then there’s a good chance that you have a drinking problem.
  • Shame: Feeling ashamed is a warning sign of alcoholism. Being shameful because of consuming a substance is an indication of addiction.
  • Imbalance of emotions: Alcoholics tend to experience mood swings and are not able to maintain one emotion for very long. For example, acting irritable.
  • Defensiveness: If you have to defend your drinking to someone, then there is a good chance you are an alcoholic. No responsible drinker should have to defend how much he or she has consumed.


Many factors can increase the risk of alcohol abuse. People may turn to alcohol for one reason then gradually develop a drinking problem.

  • Relieve stress: Relying on alcohol to reduce daily life stressors can increase the likelihood of developing alcoholism. Frequent drinking builds tolerance, requiring you to consume more alcohol in order the achieve the same effects.
  • Feeling good: Alcohol can provide some people with a break from reality. It gives a sense of relief that your mind may be trying to escape from.
  • Coping with loss: Losing a family member or friend can take a toll on you emotionally, physically or mentally. Alcohol can ease the grief you are feeling.
  • Overcoming anxiety: Some people are naturally anxious, and this can cause constant worrying. Drinking can make them feel more comfortable in social situations.


Drinking can take a toll on your health. It can have minor and major effects on your health.

Short-term effects of alcohol can produce:

  • Poor reflexes, slow reaction time
  • Blurry vision
  • Restlessness
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Reduce brain activity
  • Difficulty breathing

Long-term health conditions caused by alcohol can include:

  • Brain defects
  • Liver disease
  • Heart problems
  • Bone loss
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Vision damage
  • Diabetes complications


There are several different forms of treatment based on the severity of alcoholism. Recovering from alcohol addiction is a process that still continues after rehab. It requires commitment to practice the techniques learned in rehab, counseling and support groups.

Each individual has their own recovery plan that is fit for their specific needs. Alcohol treatment consists of three phases:


Detoxification is the first stage to alcohol addiction recovery. This phase is completed with the help of medical professionals because of the withdrawal symptoms. Often times, individuals are given medication to help ease the painful side effects of withdrawal.

Rehabilitation (rehab)

The two types of rehab that treat alcoholism are inpatient and outpatient rehab. Inpatient rehab is intensive treatment programs that require you to check into a facility for a certain period of time. It could be for a duration of 30, 60 or 90 days.

Outpatient rehab allows individuals to participate in a recovery program while still continuing their daily life. Talk to your doctor about treatment options to determine which form of rehab will best fit you.


The recovery process doesn’t end with rehab. Long-term sobriety requires continuation of therapy, possible support groups and counseling. These recovery resources will help you to maintain sobriety and continue a healthy lifestyle.


Alcoholism is a serious condition that you or a loved one may be facing. These warning signs can indicate that this is a problem, and it is okay to ask for help.

Recovery isn’t easy, and at Ascension, we are here to help you through every step to recovery.

Ascension can help design a plan and facilitate the to alleviate the stress of organizing an intervention. This situation can be overwhelming, especially for those who are foreign to it.

We provide a variety of programs to provide guidance and accountability to keep you on track to a sober life.

Ascension Recovery Services has a team of experts and specialists with years of experience helping individuals reach sobriety. We offer counseling and addiction services to make sure you or a loved one gets the help you need.

addiction-intervention-arsClick to enlarge 

Think you or a loved one needs help with alcoholism recovery? Call us today at: 304-241-4585 or click below to learn more about our intervention services. 


Topics: Addiction Treatment Center

Ascension Recovery Services

Written by Ascension Recovery Services

Ascension Recovery Services is a team of experts and specialists with years of experience working with individuals and organizations aiming to open behavioral health organizations.

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