Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism
Alcoholism is an immensely diverse disease that covers a broad spectrum of symptoms and personality types.
Currently a legal substance, alcohol; with all of its vastly addictive qualities and traits, make it easily one of the most common reasons individuals often seek out treatment options to begin with.
In general, the term “alcoholism” encompasses all forms of habitual alcohol use, including: binge drinking, alcohol abuse, as well as alcohol addiction.
It is estimated that over 14.4 million Americans above the age of 18 easily meet criteria for an Alcohol Use Disorder.
Below, The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism offers a helpful list of questions to determine if you or a loved one may have an alcohol use disorder.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 85.6 % of Americans reported in 2019 that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime. Of that population, 69.5% reported drinking within the past year and 59.1% reported drinking within the past month. Additional alcoholism-related statistics are as follows:
- 25.8% of Americans in 2019 reported binge drinking within the past month
- 14.5 million Americans ages 18 and older had alcohol use disorder (AUD) in 2019
- Less than 8% of people with alcohol use disorder sought treatment in 2019
- Men experience alcoholism at higher rates than women
- Alcohol adds to roughly 19% of emergency room visits
- Alcohol contributes to 22% of all opioid overdose deaths
- In 2015, alcohol was responsible for 29% of all driving-related deaths
Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism
Because alcoholism can take on many forms, it can sometimes be difficult to recognize the signs and symptoms in ourselves or our loved ones. Obvious signs of alcoholism include frequent intoxication and hangovers. Other signs and symptoms may take behavioral, physical, and emotional form.
Behavioral Signs of Alcoholism
The abuse of any type of mind-altering substance is going to affect a person’s behaviors in one way or another. Unfortunately, the more that alcohol is abused, the more severe the behavioral consequences of that abuse can become. Some of the most common behavioral signs of alcoholism can include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Being secretive about whereabouts
- Isolating from others
- Continually engaging in risky behaviors despite the potential consequences
- Spending excessive amounts of money on alcohol
- Asking others for money frequently but never paying them back
- Having several legal problems as a result of drug or alcohol abuse
- Being unable to control how much alcohol is consumed
- Neglecting responsibilities at home in order to consume alcohol
- No longer participating in previously enjoyed activities or hobbies
Physical Signs of Alcoholism
The extent of the physical damage that alcohol addiction can do is typically directly related to a number of factors that include how often the abuse is occurring and how much is being used at a time. Similar to any other type of consequence of alcoholism, the more serious the alcoholism is, the faster physical symptoms can start to develop.
Someone who is addicted to alcohol can begin displaying any number of the following signs:
- Poor hygiene (e.g. not brushing teeth or hair, rewearing clothes several times without washing them, a general unkempt appearance)
- Changes in weight, which can include gaining or losing weight, as well as changes in appetite
- Problems with sleep patterns, such as sleeping too much or not enough
- Bloodshot eyes
- Development of withdrawal symptoms when not drinking (a sign of physical dependence)
- Increased tolerance for alcohol, meaning that more needs to be consumed at a time in order to develop a sense of being under the influence
- Flushed, swollen appearance in the face
- Yellowish tint to the skin (a sign of liver dysfunction)
- Skin appearing dull and grayish due to dehydration
Emotional Signs of Alcoholism
Emotions can be difficult to deal with even if you are not abusing alcohol. But if you are addicted to alcohol, you will face emotional challenges. Ranging from pervasive sadness and hopelessness to euphoria and excitability, the emotions that can be produced by alcohol use can fluctuate over and over again. And, of course, being under the influence of alcohol can impair and inhibit you from being able to manage your emotions appropriately.
Frequently experienced emotional signs of alcoholism include the following:
- Sudden, unexplained changes in mood
- Anxiety, panic, or fear
- Feeling unable to function without alcohol
- Turning to the use of alcohol in order to cope
- Suicidal thoughts, tendencies, or behaviors
Again, the signs and symptoms of alcoholism are typically related to the severity of the individual’s alcohol consumption. The more severe the drinking patterns, the more complex and apparent the signs and symptoms become.
How is Alcoholism Treated
Alcoholism is a complex disease, as it impacts a person’s physical, psychological, and emotional wellbeing. In order to treat alcoholism effectively, several options for care are provided so that each individual alcoholic looking to recover can have their own unique needs met.
The type of treatment a person will receive for alcoholism can depend on a number of different factors, including but not limited to, the following:
- The severity of their alcoholism
- If they are abusing other mind-altering substances simultaneously
- If they are experiencing one or more mental health conditions
- How many times they have attended treatment before (if applicable)
When these factors are determined, the proper treatment plans can be developed for each individual. For many, the very first part of their treatment is detox. Detox is the process of clearing the body and mind of any and all mind-altering, addictive substances. Someone who is dependent on alcohol is going to develop withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking. Those symptoms can range in severity from headaches and nausea to seizures and high blood pressure. There is no real, effective way to know how intense one’s withdrawal from alcohol will be, which is why it is important to go through this process in a professional detox center. There, medical and mental health professionals can provide on-the-spot care if and when it is needed. As soon as the process of detox is completed, individuals can move into the therapeutic portion of their care, which may be provided through one of the following levels of treatment:
- Inpatient treatment, where the individual resides at the treatment facility and stays for 30-90 days depending on their needs. This form of treatment is the best choice for those with a severe case of alcoholism or who have made previous attempts to get sober before but have been unable to stop drinking.
- Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs), where the individual continues to live at home but spends the majority of their time at the facility. This is ideal for those who require medical assistance on a regular basis while they are in obtaining treatment.
- Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs), a program for those who can live on their own but who also need consistent treatment while they work on establishing themselves in recovery.
- Outpatient treatment, where the individual is spending the majority of their time on their own, but also engaging in treatment one to several times per week based on their treatment plan
Within each level of treatment, individuals participate in evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, individual therapy, group counseling, etc. They work to develop skills to address triggers, prevent relapse, and improve communication. When individuals complete their treatment, they can continue to work on their recovery through aftercare services provided by the facility, which oftentimes includes regular meetings and alumni events.
Alcohol rehab is a place to start healing from the trauma of alcoholism. Anyone who is active in their alcoholism knows that the very idea of getting sober can be frightening, especially if alcohol has been relied on as a close ally for a long time. But, getting sober and into recovery is absolutely vital in order to survive this disease.
When in rehab for alcoholism, individuals can expect to thrive in an environment free of drugs and alcohol and where medical and mental health professionals are on standby to help assist them through some of recovery’s challenges. The support to go from actively abusing alcohol to abstaining from use will remain from the very beginning of alcohol rehab straight through to the end. If you are about to begin alcohol rehab, or if you are curious about what goes on in this setting, here is what you can expect:
- Participation in detox services if you are dependent on alcohol
- Inclusion in several different types of therapies to help address the many different issues you may be experiencing as a result of your drinking
- Attending support groups and group counseling sessions, where you can not only grow individually but also develop a strong support system among other participants
- Identifying and addressing the underlying causes of your alcoholism so that they do not become problematic again in the future
- Learning more about the disease of alcoholism, including how it impacts the brain
- Focusing on how to restore and renew relationships with friends, family, and loved ones that may have been impacted by your alcoholism
When you enroll in alcohol rehab, know that you are taking the critical first step in reclaiming your life. You can expect to receive some of the utmost quality of care provided by experienced and compassionate professionals for the duration of your treatment.
Rehab for Alcoholism in Florida
At Genesis House, we understand the need for rehab for alcoholism in Florida, as we work with people every single day who can benefit from the services we provide. We know that making the choice to go to rehab is not easy, but we also know that it is worth it.
When you attend our rehab for alcoholism in Florida, you can rest assured that you will be getting the best treatment possible for your specific condition. You will have access to medical detox services if needed as well as therapies and educational classes that will give you all the tools you need to sustain your recovery for the long haul.
At our rehab for alcoholism in Florida, you can trust us to help you get back on your feet and then some. All you need to do is reach out and ask for help.
In the past year, have you or a loved one:
The struggle is really really real. How can we help?
One or more of the above mentioned symptoms can indicate serious problems with alcohol. The good news is that alcoholism is treatable! Contact us to determine the next steps for treating alcohol abuse.