According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, nearly 15 million people ages 12 and older had an alcohol use disorder in 2019. AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by a decreased ability to control alcohol use despite social, occupational, or health consequences. Those who have alcohol addiction are often unaware of the adverse effect their drinking has on their friends, family, and loved ones, as well as their own physical and mental health.
It’s important to know the signs of alcohol dependence early on – after all, alcohol addiction is a dangerous and deadly disease. If you or a loved one experiences one or more of these signs, we recommend taking the first step in recovery with an addiction intervention.
1. DRINKING FOR RELIEF
If you can only find true relief when drinking enough to feel the effects of alcohol, you may have developed a maladaptive coping mechanism. This self-medicating with alcohol often leads to physical damage to your body and can develop into alcoholism that affects other aspects in your life.
2. "BLACKING OUT" FREQUENTLY
Drinking alcohol and experiencing frequent blackouts are signs of alcoholism. Blackouts are directly related to alcohol depressing the cells responsible for memory making and sound decision making. Bizarre behavior is common in this state of mind, and the effected person can experience serious social consequences.
3. HIDDEN DRINKING/DRINKING ALONE
Hidden drinking and drinking alone are common signs of alcoholism. Being honest with one’s self about the reasons they hide their alcohol use or drink alone is the first step to realizing there may be an issue.
4. HIGH TOLERANCE
Needing to drink more to feel the same effects that used to take less alcohol is a sign of building tolerance. Our culture often glorifies the amount of alcohol someone can consume, but being able to consume large quantities is a sign of more serious problems to come if behavior is not changed.
5. PERSONALITY CHANGES
Alcohol is a depressant, and a very strong one. Consuming too much alcohol causes an imbalance of chemicals in your brain. Each person’s brain is unique, and some people experience this chemical imbalance differently. Many people with alcohol dependence using alcohol become depressed, anxious, and violent.
6. RELATIONSHIP ISSUES
Social relationships provide boundaries of what is appropriate behavior in our lives. The effects of alcohol often blur the line of these boundaries and inebriated people will cross this line often. The tension that consistent drinking has on relationships is immense and can cause unwanted social consequences.
7. WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS
Early signs of alcohol dependence include the following signs of withdrawal: shaking (hand tremors), headache, sweating, anxiety (heart palpitations), nausea and/or vomiting. Experiencing these signs for prolonged periods of time can result in severe seizures and delirium tremens which includes hallucinations, irregular heart rate, shivering, and high temperature.