According to the World Health Organization, alcohol abuse causes 3.3 million deaths around the world each year. In fact, research from 2018 that focused on the health and drinking habits of more than 600,000 people in 19 countries around the world found that drinking more than 5 drinks per week shortens your life—and those results were controlled for age, history of diabetes, smoking, occupation, and level of education.
Still, as scary as all of that is, how can you know if you have a real problem?
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It’s not easy to formally define alcoholism, but it has both a physical and a mental/emotional component. In other words, an alcoholic will have both a strong physical craving for alcohol, and what feels like an uncontrollable need to give in to that craving—often at very inopportune times. If you are an alcoholic, you may not know it. And even if you know you have a problem, it is very likely that you don’t know how to stop drinking.
Technically, an alcoholic is simply someone who is struggling with the chronic disease of alcoholism, or alcohol use disorder. Alcoholics feel obsessed with their need to use and abuse alcohol, and they cannot control how much they drink. This is true even when their drinking is causing them serious, life-altering problems at work, school, and home—and even when their health is deteriorating.
Sometimes people abuse alcohol without showing the telltale signs of alcoholism. In other words, their drinking is problematic, but they have not yet developed a chemical dependency on alcohol, and still maintain some semblance of control over their use of it—at least for now. However, many people who abuse alcohol become alcoholics, and the longer and more severely they abuse it, the more likely they are to end up an alcoholic.
Signs of alcohol abuse to watch out for can be physical:
- Alcohol smell on the breath
- Dilated pupils
- Inability to stand still or walk straight
- Fast heartbeat
- Poor balance
- Rapid eye movements
- Slurred or loud speech
- Slow breathing
There are behavioral signs of alcohol abuse you should be aware of, too:
- Acting out violently
- Lack of inhibitions
- Risky sexual behavior
- Rapid mood swings
Free, Confidential Alcohol Abuse Assessment
If you think you might have a problem with alcohol, take our free, confidential alcohol abuse assessment. If you delay taking this assessment and continue to drink, the alcohol you consume is affecting every organ in your body and possibly altering your decisions, because it is a central nervous system depressant.
It is possible that you may be changing your behavior to accommodate your drinking without even knowing it. Please think about the impact this could be having on your partner and/or your children. It’s easy to answer a few questions and arm yourself with more and better information, so do yourself and your family that favor today.