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Signs of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse

Knowing how to identify a drinking problem is the first step toward recovery.

1 Your Role
I want to learn about treatment options for:

2 Basic Information
The Person is:
years old

graduated high school

3 Condition Information
Caron Treatment Centers accepts patients aged 13 years or older. For more information on services available to those 12 and under, please learn more about Caron's Student Assistance Program.

Alcohol abuse, or problem drinking, is characterized by the compulsive and uncontrolled consumption of alcohol, usually to the detriment of the drinker’s health, relationships and job. Alcohol abuse involves the development of tolerance, or the need to consume more and more alcohol to feel the same physical effects.

Alcoholism, the most severe form of problem drinking, occurs when the user, now considered an alcoholic, becomes physically dependent on alcohol. Signs of alcoholism include any and all symptoms of alcohol abuse plus withdrawal symptoms (the body’s reaction to not having alcohol in its system) when the alcoholic suddenly reduces or discontinues drinking.

Signs of alcohol abuse.

Symptoms and indications of alcohol abuse include:

  • Family history of alcohol abuse or alcoholism
  • Frequent intoxication
  • Drinking before noon
  • Underage drinking and/or binge drinking
  • A decline in self-care or hygiene
  • Physical harm as a result of drinking (accidents or fights)
  • Drinking alone
  • The ability to consume a good deal of alcohol without getting intoxicated
  • A preoccupation with drinking and alcohol
  • Suffering from blackouts or memory lapses while drinking
  • The use of alcohol to alter one’s mood
  • Binge drinking (periodic, extreme overindulgence - consuming five or more standard drinks (male), or four or more drinks (female) in one occasion.
  • Hiding alcohol or sneaking drinks
  • Drinking prior to events or social gatherings where alcohol will be served
  • Job loss or complaints by employers regarding one’s drinking
  • Relationship or marital problems as a result of too much drinking
  • Complaints from friends, relatives or co-workers about problem drinking incidents
  • Alcohol related arrests: public intoxication, DUI, lewd behavior, altercations
  • Behavioral changes while intoxicated: anger, sexual promiscuity, rash acts
  • Feeling remorseful or humiliated by drinking-related behavior
  • Social rejection or loss of friendship as a result of one’s drinking
  • Neglect of other activities
  • Drinking and driving or drinking in dangerous situations
  • Changes to personality

Identifying addiction: Know the signs of alcoholism

While the above indicators are signs of alcohol abuse, a diagnosis of alcoholism necessitates physical dependence on alcohol. The most common physical signs of an alcoholic are:

  • Increased alcohol tolerance: more and more alcohol is needed to feel its effects
  • Attempts at quitting are met with failure
  • Loss of control (one cannot control the amount of alcohol he consumes at any give time)
  • Alcohol consumption or other drugs are required to avoid withdrawal symptoms: nausea, shakiness, anxiety, sweating, and, with more severe cases, seizures, delirium (or hallucinations)
  • Craving for alcohol that can contribute to relapse if one attempts to abstain

If you or someone you love could be suffering from alcohol abuse or alcoholism, Caron is here for you. Our individualized treatment and proven approach can help lead to a life of recovery.