You didn’t take your first sip of alcohol with the intention of becoming an alcoholic or worrying about alcoholism. You may not even be sure you do have a drinking problem.
Besides, doesn’t alcoholism only affect those people that drink all the time?
If you’ve come to this page you’re probably aware that the old stereotypes no longer apply. Alcoholism does not discriminate. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, alcoholism can creep up on you without you even realizing it’s there.
But, how do you know if you’re suffering from alcoholism?
Is Alcoholism a Disease or a Behavior?
People have argued over this question for years but in 2018 we understand that alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder, is a disease. And it’s a disease that the World Health Organization believes results in 3.3 million deaths worldwide, every year. That’s a frightening figure.
Alcoholism is also known as alcohol dependence because the person needs to have alcohol every day. If they don’t drink, they experience physical and psychological symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
These symptoms can include:
- Irritability/mood swings
- Changes in sleeping habits
The difference between needing alcohol and choosing to drink excessively is huge and can be difficult to understand. But simply put, a person who chooses to drink excessively can participate in other activities. When they’re not drinking alcohol, they get on with their lives.
It’s vastly different for people who are suffering from alcoholism. When they’re not drinking alcohol, they’re thinking about drinking. They become anxious if they don’t know when they’ll get their next drink and they will stop engaging in other activities if it means they can’t drink.
Are Some People More Vulnerable to Alcoholism than Others?
Yes and no. Alcoholism develops quickly in some people but can take years to develop in others.
There are tests that can be performed that can show if you’ve recently consumed alcohol or if you have any liver or kidney damage to due to alcohol. However, an alcoholism diagnosis will only be given if certain criteria are met and if you’re honest about your drinking with your professional team.
Risk Factors Associated with Alcoholism
Researchers have identified some factors that make you more vulnerable to alcoholism however, having these factors does not necessarily mean you will develop the disease. These include:
- Family history – Genes may play a part in the development of alcoholism as well as growing up around alcohol abuse and dependence.
- Studies have suggested that – if you start drinking before you’re 15 years old, your chances of developing alcoholism increase.
- Social relationships and work culture – If you spend time with people who consume a lot of alcohol on a regular basis you may develop a problem.
- Depression and stress – Using alcohol to self-medicate for depression and stress is common. Although it may provide temporary relief of symptoms, alcohol is a depressant, and will in fact, cause depression to increase.
- Easy and affordable access to alcohol – Although there is disagreement among professionals there is research available that suggests increasing alcohol prices and limiting access will cause a drop in alcohol-related deaths. The presence of alcohol in advertising and media culture may also play a part in the development of alcoholism.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism?
Have any of your friends or family expressed concerns about your drinking? Has your boss talked to you about how may days you’ve had off lately? Have you ever put yourself, or others, at risk because you were driving a car while under the influence of alcohol?
Often, the people around us know we’re struggling before we do, and some signs are more obvious that others.
Not all the following may apply to you, but these are some of the more common signs and symptoms of alcoholism.
- Feeling astrong urge to drink and constantly thinking about drinking
- Drinking in secret, alone, or at strange times of the day
- Not beingable to stop drinking and needing more to feel the effects of alcohol
- Blackouts or not being able to remember large parts of your day
- Hiding alcohol from family members and having specific times of the day when you must have a drink (rituals)
- Drinking alcohol in gulps and feelings of irritation when you are not able to drink
- Losing interest in hobbies, work, family activities
- Having relationship problems, financial problems, or difficulty concentrating at work
- Nausea, shaking, sweating, headaches when you’re not drinking
At Revive, our team of licensed clinicians specialize in providing high-end treatment for people experiencing alcoholism.
Our services are client-centered, and we work closely with you and any others you want to include in your recovery process, to develop a personalized plan for you.
Our staff are on hand 24/7 to answer your calls or emails and we are happy to answer any questions you may have about symptoms, treatment, or how we can work with you to improve your life, health, and relationships.