Drinking is a predominant aspect of many cultures all around the world. The earliest known alcohols were brewed around 7000 BCE and were used for rituals, medicine, pleasure, and funerary proceedings. The idea of reaching adulthood and being allowed to drink are closely connected, leading to the creation of alcohol-related rights of passage in many cultures. Drinking at sports games, parties, and other social events have not only been accepted in today’s society but are often encouraged and sometimes even expected.
Due to the large role that alcohol plays in our lives, it can be difficult to tell if you or a loved one has begun abusing the substance. Today, nearly 1 in 12 men and 1 in 25 women have an alcohol use disorder in the U.S. and roughly 88,000 Americans die from alcohol-related causes every year. When the use of alcohol is so common, it can be difficult to spot the signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction and abuse. Here we will discuss everything you need to know in order to recognize the signs of alcohol addiction.
What is Alcohol Addiction?
The term alcoholism and alcoholic are both used to describe someone that is suffering from an alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use disorders indicate a pattern of alcohol use that involves issues controlling drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, and continuing its use even after problems have begun to arise as a result. Once an alcohol use disorder develops, more alcohol will need to be consumed in order for the user to achieve the same effect.
Suffering withdrawal symptoms after ceasing consumption is another sign that someone is suffering from alcohol addiction. Though there are many people that have unhealthy habits regarding alcohol, such as binge drinking or reckless tendencies, alcohol addiction doesn’t begin until a dependency has been formed on the substance. If your pattern of drinking results in stressful situations and problems in your daily life, you are likely suffering from an addictive alcohol use disorder.
Physical Signs of Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol addiction and misuse can lead to severe and permanently debilitating health conditions that can require a lifetime of care to cope with. Here are a few of the physical signs that someone could be wrestling with an alcohol use disorder;
- Neglected Nutritional Health– One of the early signs of alcohol use disorder is the neglect of dieting habits. Once alcohol abuse takes a firmer grasp, people will often neglect their regular hygiene routines, including regular meals.
- Gaunt Appearance– people suffering from alcohol use disorder may also show signs of malnutrition. Hair loss, weight loss, and dark eye circles are all signs of a general condition, thiamine deficiency, that is closely linked to excessive alcohol consumption.
- Slurred Speech– alcohol addiction can lead to people drinking at inappropriate times, such as before family functions, in schools, or at religious functions. Slurred speech, one of the side effects of heavy drinking, can indicate whether or not someone is suffering from AUD.
- Poor Coordination- alcohol can interfere with the brain’s communication pathways. This can disrupt your ability to move with coordination.
Psychological Signs of Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol addiction greatly affects a person’s external behavior, but the root of the problem lies on the inside, in the brain. Addiction is primarily a mental health issue and can alter your brain chemistry. These alterations can interfere with your brain’s neural networks, causing resistance in your mind’s neural network. This can manifest in a variety of ways, such as;
- Trouble Remembering Things– alcohol disrupts the brain’s ability to form new long-term memories. The recall of previously established memories and short-term memories is less affected. If you begin to notice that a loved one is no longer retaining long-term memories, it could be an indication of alcohol abuse
- Depression and anxiety– Though it can be difficult to separate cause and effect, alcohol addiction highly correlates with anxiety and depression.
- Difficulty learning- Alcohol damages the areas of your brain that control memory. When this area is prevented from functioning to its full capacity, learning new things becomes much more difficult.
- Delayed Reaction Time- One of the main areas of the brain that is affected by alcohol is the hippocampus. This area of the brain is partially in control of your visual-spatial cognition. Once this is disrupted, reaction time becomes slower.
- Sleeping Difficulties- there is evidence that drinking alcohol can disrupt the release of melatonin in your brain. Melatonin is the hormone released when your brain wants to go to sleep.
Are the Symptoms Reversible?
Though some of the symptoms of alcohol addiction may subside eventually, there are other alcohol-related issues that will not go away with time. Chronic heavy drinking can lead to a variety of lasting health risks and conditions, such as
- Alcoholic cardiomyopathy- chronic heavy drinking can result in alcoholic cardiomyopathy. This can cause shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, and swelling of the lungs and feet. Getting help and reversing these symptoms is possible in some circumstances, but chronic cases may have more permanent effects.
- Cirrhosis- this condition occurs when the liver has become significantly scarred. At this stage, there may not be any obvious symptoms. While the cessation of alcohol consumption can prevent this condition from worsening, it is generally not reversible.
- Alcoholic hepatitis- unrelated to infectious hepatitis, this form of hepatitis is caused by alcohol consumption over time. Though the effects can be reversed with abstaining from drinks, this disease is serious and in some cases, life-threatening.
Find Addiction Treatment with American Treatment Network in Havertown, PA
The battle against addiction is a difficult one, but you don’t have to fight alone. At American Treatment Network, we specialize in helping those struggling with alcohol and opioid addiction. Our team of healthcare professionals utilizes evidence-based practices that have been proven to help patients improve their mental and physical health.
Seeking treatment for addiction is the first step toward a happy, healthy, and sober life. Our treatment centers in Havertown, and Chester, PA, Newark, and Dover, DE, are equipped and ready to help you on your journey to sobriety. Contact us today to learn more about how our treatment options for alcohol addiction can help you.