Signs of Alcoholism
Alcoholism is a disease that only survives by lying to its victims. It tells them that they’re okay, in control, and that the consequences they’re suffering aren’t from drinking. Meanwhile, heavy alcohol consumption actually reduces brain cell production in the hippocampus– the area of the brain that provides self-control.
The Difference Between Dependence and Abuse
Alcohol has a high potential for abuse, and can also cause people to become dependent on it. Alcohol abuse occurs when people continue to drink despite the fact that drinking has begun to negatively affect their jobs, families, or education. Alcohol dependence occurs when people develop an addiction to alcohol, and when going without a drink produces withdrawal symptoms.
Alcohol dependence is usually referenced to by the term alcoholism, but even people without actual dependence may require treatment to curtail their problem drinking.
The Symptoms of Alcoholism
These symptoms include:
- An inability to regulate the amount of alcohol that is consumed.
- Strong compulsions to drink.
- An increased alcohol tolerance.
- Physical withdrawal symptoms, like pain, nausea, tachycardia, or tremors.
- Memory lapses, leading to forgotten conversations and missed commitments.
- Hiding stashes of alcohol for easy access or to conceal drinking from others.
- Personal, educational, employment, or legal problems resulting from drunkenness or missed commitments. 22% of the police’s time is spent on cases involving alcohol, like domestic violence or driving under the influence.
- Health problems related to drinking. Alcohol doubles a person’s risk of developing high blood pressure. Alcoholics are also roughly ten times more likely to develop infections, cancer, and clotting disorders.
When to Seek Treatment
Alcoholism lies. It’s possible for someone with this disease to exhibit all of its symptoms, and still believe that it doesn’t have a hold on them. There are a few questions you can use to determine whether you may be alcoholic:
- Do you drink a lot in a day? A lot is typically defined as five or more drinks for a healthy adult male, and four for a female.
- Do you feel guilt when you drink, or a need to hide how much you drink? If friends or loved ones criticize your drinking habits, does it annoy you?
- Do you think it’s time for you to stop drinking?
How to Seek Treatment
Alcoholism is difficult to treat, and is never really cured. Alcohol consumption is so prevalent, some environments even stigmatize people who choose not to partake. This inducement to drink can make it hard for people to self-treat effectively. Self-treatment can also be life threatening. In people with severe dependence issues, withdrawal symptoms can produce delirium tremens. Delirium tremens causes sudden mental and neurological problems, and can be fatal. It is a medical emergency, and cannot be self-diagnosed or treated.
Inpatient alcohol treatment centers provide people recovering from alcohol dependence with the support that they need. It treats patients in an alcohol-free environment, and gives them tools to help cope with the issues that led to their problem drinking. Even though alcoholism can never really be cured, many alcoholics are able to go on to lead full, productive, happy lives once inpatient treatment helps them break the cycle of addiction.