Alcoholism Signs
and Symptoms

Spot Alcohol Addiction

Table of Contents

Alcoholism or Alcohol Use Disorders

Alcoholism is a severe form of alcohol abuse. When you struggle to control drinking habits, feel your drinking has become habitual, or it feels difficult to function without being under the influence, you may have an alcohol use disorder, previously known as alcoholism. Alcohol abuse can impact someone’s life greatly and there are many different signs that the disorder is present.

Impacts of Alcohol Use

Immediate Impact of Alcohol Use on the Body

When alcohol is consumed there are many immediate effects it can have on the body. Alcohol can have different effects depending on how much is drank and the physical condition of the individual. When you drink alcohol, it disrupts the brain’s communication pathways which has numerous effects on the body such as:

Trouble thinking clearly

Decreased perception and coordination

Slurred speech

Distorted vision and hearing

Impaired judgment

Drowsiness

Unconsciousness

Blackouts (memory lapses or loss of memory)

Long Term Impact of Alcohol Use on the Body

Excessive drinking over a long time can lead to many negative health effects on the body. Heavy drinking after a while can damage the heart, causing problems like high blood pressure, stroke, or arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat).

Alcohol and The Liver

The liver works to remove toxins from the body. When you drink, the liver works to break down alcohol and remove it from your system. If you drink in excess over a long period of time it can be very damaging to the liver, causing issues such as fibrosis, cirrhosis, and alcoholic hepatitis.

Alcohol and the Pancreas

Alcohol will also cause the pancreas to produce toxic substances. Excessive drinking over an extended period of time can lead to pancreatitis, which is swelling and inflammation in the pancreas which prevents proper digestion.

Alcohol and Cancer

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “there is a strong scientific consensus of an association between alcohol drinking and several types of cancer.” Forms of cancer linked to alcohol use include esophageal cancer, liver cancer, and breast cancer.

Symptoms of Alcoholism

Alcoholism can be mild, moderate, or severe depending on the number of symptoms that are experienced. Common symptoms of alcoholism include:

Being unable to limit alcohol consumption

Unsuccessful attempts to stop or cut down on drinking

Having strong cravings or urges to drink

Unable to complete tasks at home, school, or work due to alcohol use

Losing motivation or reducing socialization, work activities, and hobbies

Using alcohol in situations that aren't safe, such as drunk driving

Developing a tolerance to alcohol (needing to consume more to feel an effect)

DSM-5 Criteria

The DSM-5 is a list of eleven criteria that can help with diagnosing an alcohol use disorder. An individual who meets any two of the eleven criteria may be struggling with an alcohol use disorder. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism provides questions you can ask to determine if you or someone you know is struggling with alcoholism. (2) If you feel like you may be experiencing symptoms of alcoholism, a medical professional can help determine if the presence of an alcohol use disorder through a formal assessment.

Dangers of Alcoholism

About 40 percent of fatal motor vehicle crashes are caused by drunk driving. Drunk driving is a dangerous crime and even a small amount of alcohol can affect driving ability. Before getting behind the wheel while impaired, think about not only your safety but the safety of others on the road. There are ways to prepare so you can get a safe ride home. Have a friend who will be a designated driver, call a taxi, or call a sober friend or family member to pick you up.
 
If you feel you’ve been struggling with alcohol use and it’s been causing you to make poor decisions, there are resources available to help. If you’re not sure where to start, you can call SAMHSA’s national helpline 1-800-662-4357 for resources that are available in your area.

Resources

If you or a loved one needs help, please call us at
(888) 744-9969 and our team at Blueprints For Recovery in Arizona will help.

Related Content