Overcoming alcohol addiction is never an easy feat, especially if you have struggled with addiction for years or even decades of your life. Knowing how to spot the signs of alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction is essential to create a plan of action that provides long-term results. While living a life of sobriety does not often occur overnight, it is possible with the right treatment program, proper guidance, and adequate emotional support.
Causes of Addiction
Addictions do not instantaneously appear in individuals. Oftentimes, there are triggers involved that lead those who become addicted down the path of using and abusing alcohol as a method of escapism. Some of the most common reasons individuals become addicted to abusing alcohol include:
- Anxiety: Anxiety disorders infiltrate many aspects of everyday life. Feeling stressed and overwhelmed with anxiety can lead to using alcohol as a pacifier or temporary bandage. Alcohol reduces various inhibitors in the brain while providing stress relief and freedom from classic signs of anxiety.
- Depression: Depression is a disorder that impacts millions of individuals and families around the world each year. Severe depression can trigger an addiction as a form of escapism, allowing an individual to feel a mood boost when they are unable to do so otherwise.
- Traumatic Experiences: Experiencing trauma can be extremely painful and emotionally draining. When traumas are not properly and professionally addressed with a specialized therapist, you become more susceptible to using alcohol and other drugs to free yourself from negative thoughts and emotions that are associated with the traumatic incident you have experienced.
- Fitting In: Teenagers and young adults are more likely to become addicted to alcohol while attempting to fit in with social circles and friends. As the brain is still developing, alcoholism can quickly sneak up and trigger long-term addictions when not properly addressed.
Unfortunately, addiction is also largely attributed to genetics. If you have family members who have struggled with an addiction to alcohol, prescription medications, or even illegal drugs, you are much more likely to be predisposed to developing an addiction of your own if you are not conscious of your actions at all times.
Signs of Alcohol Addiction
Individuals who struggle with alcoholism do not always exhibit the same signs of alcohol addiction. Understanding the most commonly noted signs that are linked to an addiction to alcohol is essential whether you want to remain conscious of your own decisions or if you are looking out for a friend or loved one. There are both psychological and physical signs to monitor if you believe you have become addicted to drinking or abusing alcohol.
Some of the most prevalent psychological signs and symptoms that are associated with alcoholism and addiction include:
- Preoccupation: Feeling preoccupied with obtaining and consuming alcohol is often one of the first psychological signs of developing an addiction.
- Increased Anxiety: While alcohol has the ability to ward off common signs of anxiety during consumption, it leads to increased anxiety and unpredictable moods once alcohol is no longer available.
- Increased Irritability: Feeling increasingly irritable when you do not have access to alcohol is a major psychological symptom of developing an addiction. Feeling irritable is commonly associated with the development of physical addiction to alcohol.
- Depression: Depression develops in individuals who rely heavily on alcohol daily. When an individual no longer has access to alcohol, depression is more likely to arise.
- Social Isolation: When drinking alcohol becomes an addiction, individuals are likely to become more isolated socially. Avoiding friends and family members in exchange for alcohol is a common psychological symptom that appears with any addiction.
- Mood Swings: Alcohol causes mood shifts and swings in the brain, both while consuming it and afterward. Increased mood swings are not uncommon in those who have become dependent on using alcohol regularly.
In addition to psychological symptoms of addiction, there are also physical signs to watch for when you want to prevent the development of severe addiction to alcohol. Physical signs and symptoms are most notable in those who have a severe addiction to alcohol itself, causing the body to experience adverse effects. Common physical signs and symptoms associated with alcoholism and addiction include
- Tremors and Shakiness: Tremors and shakiness in the hands and extremities of the body appear after consuming a massive amount of alcohol. An individual who relies heavily on alcohol is more likely to exhibit shakiness and tremors (also known as “the shakes”). Tremors typically occur when an individual is not currently consuming alcohol as the body has adapted to receiving alcohol each day.
- Nausea/Vomiting: Overconsumption of alcohol can cause nausea, vomiting, and other adverse digestive effects on the body.
- Bowel Changes: Maintaining healthy bowel movements becomes increasingly difficult once you have become addicted to consuming alcohol.
- Kidney/Liver Damage: Prolonged exposure to alcohol can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and permanent kidney damage (along with kidney failure).
- Heart Attack: Drinking too much alcohol in one sitting leaves individuals at an increased risk of a heart attack, even if you are currently healthy otherwise.
- Seizures: Seizures often occur when an individual is experiencing alcohol poisoning or taking additional medications in combination with the alcohol they are consuming. Seizures can lead to death if the individual who is experiencing a seizure does not receive prompt emergency medical attention.
- Coma: Going into a coma is possible when consuming too much alcohol. Alcohol is slowly processed in the body, and overwhelming the body’s internal organs can cause them to shut down. In some cases, overconsumption and alcohol poisoning can ultimately lead to death.
Understanding the basics of alcohol abuse and addiction provides valuable insight into your own behavioral patterns when it comes to consuming alcohol. When you are familiar with the signs of addiction, break free from negative behavioral patterns and continue on with your journey to a life of sobriety.