The start of a drinking problem can be hard to pinpoint. Warning signs can start gradually and seem benign but become problematic as time progresses. Environmental factors such as work, social gatherings, family pressures or an increase in responsibilities can affect how a person feels. Their mood or personality can change. Mental health issues such as depression or anxiety can increase, leaving a person feeling out of control, angry or helpless. For some, alcohol can help ease or mask these emotions, giving them a sense of control or emotional well-being.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also been identified as contributing to alcohol abuse. Extended quarantine restrictions and the need to self-isolate heighten depression and anxiety. Many support groups have suspended in-person meetings. Where meetings are available, those who might attend may feel unsafe in the company of others. As the infection rate rises in the United States, people can feel even more isolated from others. Traditional family holiday gatherings are limited or changed due to COVID-19. People reliant on the support or comfort of family and traditions might alleviate their sense of isolation with unhealthy habits.
Signs or Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse or Addiction
Signs of alcohol abuse or addiction can be wide-ranging. A person addicted to alcohol may exhibit a few or multiple symptoms:
- Impulsive Behavior
There are two types of impulse processes. One type relates to a person’s ability to inhibit their actions or thinking. A different kind of impulsive behavior is connected to the reward system where a person’s ability to control their immediate consequences (or reward) versus control over future rewards. Impulsive behaviors include:
- Becoming involved in situations that increase the risk of being injured—unsafe sex, driving while intoxicated, swimming, or any other dangerous action
- Agreeing to perform or engage in activities outside of normal behavior—sell belongings, take dares, take a trip while intoxicated, etc.
- Repeated Attempts to Cut Down or Stop Drinking
People often promise themselves they will either stop or cut down on their alcohol intake. They make this resolution after a party, social gathering or a night spent at home alone drinking. They wake up with a hangover or realize they blacked out and can’t remember events from the previous day or night. Their commitment to reduce or stop drinking can fade when they are in social, stressful or complicated situations. The temptation to have “just one more drink” can weaken their willpower. Signs of ineffective attempts to maintain their sobriety are:
- Drinking more or longer than intended
- Increased or continuous trouble with daily activities and friends
- Inability to avoid trigger situations or habits—certain sounds like ice clinking in a glass, after-work gatherings at a bar or activities linked with drinking
Some people push away others because they think they aren’t worthy of love, praise or acceptance. Instead, they isolate themselves or believe they deserve to feel depressed or anxious. Here are some things that a person with an alcohol problem may do to sabotage themselves:
- Continue drinking despite increased feelings of depression or anxiety
- Give up activities or plans with others so they can continue to drink, recover from too much drinking or lose interest in friends or family
Seeking Help through Comprehensive Care
When a person begins to question if they have a drinking problem, they can seek answers through group or individual therapy. Treatment centers that offer psychotherapy, group and holistic treatment (such as yoga, art or meditation) are comprehensive. These centers understand a person is more than an addiction. They aim to treat a person’s mind, body and spirit.
If a person understands why they are alcohol dependent, they can address mental health disorders as well. Participating in group therapy is essential because listening to and interacting with others helps them realize they are not alone. The support they find in group therapy during treatment can follow them into their aftercare program.
Researchers dedicated to investigating the link between re-connecting the body, mind and spirit have found comprehensive addiction therapy increases a person’s success at maintaining their sobriety. Enrolling in a treatment program that offers multiple treatment modalities allows a person to experiment with various therapies and create a plan that serves their individual needs.
Alcohol addiction can begin with small, unnoticeable habits. Over time, these habits increase or can contribute to other unhealthy practices. If you or a loved one realizes they can’t control their consumption of alcohol and feel out of control, Casa Palmera can help. We believe comprehensive treatment is vital for recovery. Our therapists work with individuals to identify the root of addiction and its triggers. We include group and holistic therapies to encompass each patient’s unique needs. For more information, call us at (877) 384-0432.