Am I An Alcoholic? The Warning Signs of Alcoholism

What Is An Alcoholic?

Alcohol addiction, also known as alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a condition in which a person has a strong urge or physical need to consume alcohol despite the fact that doing so has a detrimental effect on their lives.

Individuals with this condition are often referred to as “alcoholics.” However, many medical practitioners use the term AUD instead.

Alcoholism, Alcohol Abuse and Addiction

Although not all drinkers are addicted to alcohol, those who struggle to manage their drinking are most likely suffering from alcoholism. Treatment of alcoholism can reduce the likelihood of fatal results and significant dangers.

Data estimates that 24% of adults in England and Scotland regularly drink over the Chief Medical Officer’s low-risk guidelines. Also, according to Office for National Statistics, there were 8,974 alcohol-specific deaths in 2020 which is an 18.6% increase from 2019.

What Causes Alcoholism?

Although there isn’t a precise formula to describe a person’s drinking patterns, studies have revealed that several factors can lead to addiction. The most common causes of alcohol addiction include biological, environmental, social, and psychological factors.

As with all individuals who develop an addiction to alcohol, their brain starts to depend on it to create specific chemicals. Because of this, heavy drinkers find it challenging to stop, and quitting might result in unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

Signs & Symptoms of Alcoholism

All the signs of alcohol misuse are present in alcohol addiction, but a physiological reliance on alcohol represents the latter. In other words, if you need alcohol to function, you may suffer from alcohol use disorder.

Major warning signs and symptoms include:

Tolerance – Do you need to drink much more than you used to feel drunk? Can you drink more alcohol than other people without getting drunk? These are signs of tolerance, which could be the beginning of alcohol dependence.

Withdrawal symptoms – Drinking to lessen or prevent withdrawal symptoms is a significant warning sign and a marker of alcohol dependence. When you consume large amounts of alcohol, your body becomes accustomed to it and exhibits withdrawal symptoms if it is stopped. This includes anxiety, shakiness, insomnia, and headaches.

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The Difference Between Being a Binge or Heavy Drinker and An Alcoholic?

Binge drinking can be defined as drinking a lot of alcohol in a short space of time, usually to the point of being intoxicated. Some definitions put a more specific number on binge drinking. For males, drinking eight units of alcohol in one session constitutes binge drinking, while for females it is six units in the same time period.

Heavy drinking often refers to how much alcohol someone drinks in any given week. Anything over 14 units a week can be considered heavy drinking.

An alcoholic is someone whose dependence on alcohol becomes so intense that they cannot resist it. Even when it is seriously disrupting their lives at home, at work, and financially, alcoholics spend a lot of time thinking about alcohol and are unable to regulate how much they consume.

Although all have the potential to be harmful, experts in the field of substance abuse note that binge drinkers can somewhat limit their consumption, unlike alcoholics. Therefore, binge drinking may not always equate to alcohol addiction.

Negative Impacts of Alcoholism

All areas of your life might be impacted by alcohol addiction. Every organ in your body, including your brain, can be damaged by prolonged alcohol use, compromising your health. Your capacity to create and maintain happy relationships and your ability to manage your finances and job can also be negatively impacted. Alcohol consumption and addiction can also have an effect on your loved ones, friends, and coworkers.

Getting Help For Alcoholism

Taking on alcohol addiction requires a lot of strength and bravery, but admitting to having a drinking issue, is the first step towards recovery. The next step is to seek medical support.

Although they can’t perform the difficult work of helping you overcome your addiction, support from loved ones can play a vital role in your long-term recovery.

Treatment Options Available for Alcoholism

There are various treatment approaches you can take, but which one you choose might depend on the severity of your addiction. Although the recovery process may be long and hard, it begins with admitting you have a problem.

To ensure the process of quitting drinking is as safe as it can be, it is best to seek professional guidance before taking action.

NHS based services

If your drinking negatively affects your life or health, alcohol addiction treatments through the National Health Service (NHS) can help you become sober. NHS-based services include rehabilitation, counselling, cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and group therapy.

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    What Makes You an Alcoholic?

    A person who consumes alcohol beyond their capacity for self-control and is unable to give up alcohol without support can be said to have an alcohol addiction. This frequently occurs in conjunction with regular drinking, habitual intoxication, and higher-than-average alcohol consumption.

    Do Alcoholics Drink Every Day?

    Typically, drinking alcohol daily increases the chance of developing alcohol-related health problems but does not necessarily indicate alcohol use disorder.

    How to Spot Alcoholism?

    Symptoms Of Alcohol Abuse include:

          • Experiencing sudden memory loss or blackouts
          • Displaying signs of excessive mood swings and irritation
          • Justifying drinking as having to unwind, manage stress, or feel normal
          • Opting to drink alcohol over obligations and other commitments

    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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