Social drinking is a big part of our culture, which can lead many people to abuse alcohol without realizing that it’s become a problem. Alcohol abuse can damage your health, damage your relationships and create major problems in your life. But the biggest danger of alcohol abuse is developing a dependence on alcohol and becoming an alcoholic.
Alcoholism vs. Alcohol Abuse
People who abuse alcohol drink too much on a regular basis. Their abuse can be self-destructive or dangerous to others, but they are still able to demonstrate some control over their drinking and set limits. Alcohol abuse can become a long-term pattern that increases the risk for progressing into alcoholism.
Alcoholism, also called alcohol addiction or alcohol dependence, occurs when drinking alcohol becomes essential in order to function. Unlike alcohol abusers, alcoholics will experience uncontrollable drinking, craving, physical dependence and tolerance. An alcoholic will be unable to stop drinking despite severe physical and psychological consequences.
Physical and Mental Symptoms of Alcoholism
* Weight loss due to malnutrition
* Insomnia or oversleeping
* Unexplained nausea or sore stomach
* Redness of the face or cheeks
* Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
* Tremors or shaking
* Erectile dysfunction
* High blood pressure
* Increased irritability, agitation, anger and violence
* Excessive displays of emotion, such as uncontrolled crying
Alcoholism Signs: When Do You Know You’re an Alcoholic?
If you want to know if your alcohol abuse has crossed the line into alcoholism, ask yourself the following questions:
* Have you ever felt the need to cut back on your drinking?
* Do you get upset when people ask questions about your drinking?
* Do you feel guilty about your drinking?
* Do you hide your drinking from friends and family by hiding empty bottles or lying about consumption?
* Is it hard for you to stop drinking after one or two drinks?
* Do you often have to drink “the hair of the dog” in order to get over a hangover or steady the shakes in the morning?
* Do you consume more than seven alcoholic beverages a week?
* Do you keep alcohol in unusual places at home, work or in the car?
* Do you often drink to the point of blackout or passing out?
* When you’re sober do you regret what you’ve done while drinking?
* Have you promised a loved one to stop drinking or cut back on your drinking and failed?
* Has your drinking caused problems meeting responsibilities at home, work or school?
* Do you worry that a party or social function won’t have enough alcohol so you have a few drinks before you go or bring your own?
* Have you had legal problems because of your drinking, such as a DUI?
* Do you experience withdrawal symptoms if you don’t drink, such as nausea, sweating and shaking?
Seeking Treatment: Alcohol Rehab
If you answered yes to more than one question above, you are at risk for alcoholism. Unfortunately, denial is a common characteristic of alcoholism, so itís highly unlikely that a person who is dependent on alcohol will seek medical treatment on their own. It often takes loved ones such as friends, family and co-workers to intervene and persuade a person to go to rehab.
If you feel like your drinking has become a problem, or you know someone who ís drinking has become out of control, an alcohol rehab facility is an important first step in the recovery process. Alcohol rehab will provide a variety of treatment options, including detox, counseling, group and individual therapy, residential treatment programs, education and family involvement.