Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction

Drinking is quite a popular activity in our modern society, and more often than not, most alcohol users don’t realise when they’ve developed a drinking problem. We’ve put together common warning signs and symptoms that reveal you’ve formed an addiction to this substance. We’ve also outlined the most effective treatment options to help you achieve full and lasting recovery from alcoholism.

Alcohol addiction, or alcoholism, is classified as a chronic, progressive illness characterised by a pattern of excessive drinking and compulsive alcohol-seeking behaviours. It’s also marked by an inability to control how much and how often you drink. For example, if, over time, two drinks per drinking session turn into five drinks (and more), and two days a week of drinking turns into five days of heavy drinking.

Recognising the Signs of Alcohol Addiction

You might feel the urge to continue drinking heavily even though it’s already affecting every area of your life. When these happen, it’s an indication your alcohol use has morphed into an addiction.


Psychological Symptoms of Alcoholism

When frequent harmful drinking becomes a norm, your brain’s chemistry adjusts to the pleasurable effects of alcohol. It eventually gets hooked to these effects and develops an intense desire for this substance.

Your brain will perceive drinking as a need that must be constantly fulfilled. If you (for various reasons) can’t drink as you often do or attempt to stop drinking abruptly, you’ll experience uncomfortable psychological symptoms.

These side effects, which are your brain’s way of demanding a supply of this substance, include:

  • Never-ending cravings for alcohol
  • Recurring thoughts about drinking again
  • Increased anxiety and depression because of not having your usual dose of alcohol
  • Mood swings, including irritability and anger
  • Poor concentration and insomnia
  • Loss of memory
  • Vivid dreams and hallucinations

Psychological dependence makes you view drinking as an integral part of your life. If confronted by a loved one about your uncontrolled consumption, you’re likely to brush off their concerns and act defensive by stating logical reasons why your drinking isn’t an issue.

This denial stems from a flawed belief that alcohol is a solution, not a problem, and that its absence in your life would make everything more chaotic, not better. Due to denial, you may hit rock bottom before you know it.

Physical Symptoms of Alcohol Dependence

Uncontrolled alcohol use for a prolonged period makes your body physically dependent on this substance. Simply put, alcohol dependency is what happens when your body gets used to this substance’s presence and thus can’t function properly without it.

When you develop dependence and try putting drinking on hold without professional assistance, you’ll experience uncomfortable and life-threatening physical withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Body chills and tremors
  • Persistent nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Body aches and abdominal cramps
  • Fever and excessive sweating
  • Increased heart rate
  • Headaches
  • Seizures

These symptoms can lead you back to heavy drinking in an effort to relieve the discomfort. Dependency will also change your overall physical appearance in several ways, among them:

  • A pale skin tone and a constant tired look
  • Redness in the face and eyes
  • Visible skin sores (your immune system will weaken, unable to fight off skin infections)
  • Your hair might thin out
  • You may lose a lot of or gain weight rapidly

Long-Term Implications of Alcohol Addiction and Dependence

If left untreated, dependence and alcoholism will, over time, destroy your relationships, career, and financial stability since you’ll fully neglect important matters and people in your life in favour of drinking.

Your health will deteriorate significantly as you may suffer organ failure from multiple organs, including the liver, brain, pancreas, and heart. You also risk developing severe mental illnesses like alcohol-induced psychosis, and chronic conditions such as cancer and diabetes.

As your immune system becomes weaker, this will make you an easy target for serious infections such as tuberculosis (TB) and pneumonia. Permanent sexual dysfunction is also a possibility with chronic alcohol use.

What Are the Next Steps for Tackling Alcoholism?

Alcoholism isn’t an illness you can overcome on your own. You need the right level of professional help and treatment program to make significant progress in your journey towards an alcohol-free life.

If you’re still unsure whether you have an unhealthy relationship with this substance, kindly consider completing the CAGE questionnaire. This reliable, self-screening tool will confirm if your drinking patterns are destructive. A score of two and above clinically shows you suffer from this addiction, and it’s important to seek help early enough before your illness worsens. Regardless of the outcome, it’s never too late to rebuild your life. Your recovery starts with detoxification treatment to clear all the traces of alcohol accumulated in your body and heal you from physical dependence. Our medically-assisted private home detox service will help you withdraw from alcohol safely and comfortably, and ensure your withdrawal symptoms are as painless as possible.

After detoxification, you’ll need to transition into rehabilitative therapy, where you’ll get to work through all the underlying issues that drive you to harmful alcohol use. Rehab will prepare you to lead a sober lifestyle and guarantees you life-changing inward and outward healing, which is what you need to reach your long-term sobriety goals.

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    Jason Shiers
    Author / Jason Shiers / Dip.Psych MBACP
    Jason Shiers is a Certified Transformative Coach & Certified Psychotherapist who is a specialist in addiction, trauma and eating disorders. He has been working in the field of addiction for 25 years now.

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