Alcohol Addiction Symptoms
What does it mean to be addicted to alcohol? One of the most common signs of addiction is that getting the drug or continuing the behavior (in the case of such things as a gambling or shopping addiction) becomes the most important thing in your life. Such things as employment, family, and health are neglected in order to continue drinking alcohol or participating in the behavior. These are some more common symptoms of alcohol abuse or addiction.
The current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM5) has abandoned the term alcohol addiction in place of the term Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). The DSM5 lists a number of symptoms which must be present for a diagnosis of AUD. A diagnosis of AUD requires that at least two of these symptoms are present within the previous year. Some of these alcohol addiction symptoms are:
- Poor coordination
- Slurred speech
- Impaired thinking
- Memory impairment
- Wanting to stop drinking but not managing to do so
- Diverting energy from work, family, and social life in order to drink
- Being secretive about the extent of the alcohol abuse in order to protect it
- Risky behavior like drunk driving
- Denial about how bad their drinking problem really is
What is it Like to Be Addicted to Alcohol?
The symptoms listed above are, clearly, external manifestations of alcohol abuse. What is the experience of the person who suffers from an AUD?
Depending upon how many of these alcohol addiction symptoms are present during the same year, the AUD may be described as mild, moderate or severe. Almost 30% of U.S. citizens will suffer from an AUD at some point during their life.
- Lying About or Hiding Your Drinking. If your alcohol use has become something that you hide from others, that’s a good sign that you have a problem.
- Drinking to Relax or Feel Better. If you feel unhappy or agitated when you stop drinking, then you are likely using alcohol to manage problems or disturbances in your life.
- “Blacking Out” Regularly. Drinking to the extent that you become unconscious should tell you that your drinking has become dangerous.
- Being Unable to Stop Once You Start. If you can’t stop drinking once you start, then your drinking is obviously out of control.
- Drinking in Dangerous Situations. Continuing to drink even when your health, employment or family are put at risk should tell you that your use of alcohol has become more important that other things in your life.
- Neglecting Your Responsibilities. Missing work, neglecting your children, or spending money needed to pay bills on alcohol is another clear sign that your drinking is out of your control.
- Having Trouble in Your Relationships. If your use of alcohol has a negative impact on your relationships with your family and friends, you are suffering from addiction.
- Being Able to Drink More Than You Used To. If the amount of alcohol you need to drink to get the desired effect
- Experiencing Withdrawal. Some common symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol are shaking, anxiety, the desire for a drink, delirium tremens (DTs), confusion, fever, and rapid heartbeat. If you begin to suffer from some of these symptoms within a few hours after your last drink, these are common symptoms of alcohol addiction.
- Trying to Quit but Being Unable To. Many people who suffer from AUD find that they cannot quit even when they try to do so. This is a warning sign of addiction to alcohol.
The reader may or may not be aware of some or all of the above alcohol addiction symptoms in their own lives. The official symptoms of an AUD listed in the DSM5 are useful to therapists in determining whether a diagnosis of AUD is present. The symptoms listed immediately above may help the reader determine whether they should be concerned about their drinking. Remember that just one of these symptoms is not a sign of AUD, but if you recognize several of them in yourself or in a loved one, then it is time to seek help from professionals. Keep in mind that rationalizations can make it difficult to admit that you have a problem with alcohol.
Alcohol, along with nicotine and caffeine, is one of the most widely used legal addictive substances. Caffeine is present in a variety of different beverages, and nicotine is found in cigarettes and chewing tobacco. Alcohol purchase is limited to adults, but it is still commonly used by U.S. citizens. Because it is legal, it is considered only minimally harmful. Nothing could be further from the truth. Alcohol has negative effects on both the body and the user’s relationships with others. If you are unsure whether your drinking is a problem, contact us today, and speak with trained professionals that are eager to help you.