Signs You Might Have an Alcohol Addiction

Signs of Addiction

Although addiction is often riddled with shame, guilt and stigma, it is a lot more common than some may think. The 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 14.4 million American adults (18 years old or above) had an alcohol use disorder in 2018. The staggering fact isn’t the large number of people who struggled with alcohol use, but rather the small number of people who received treatment for it: only 7.9% of American adults with an alcohol use disorder sought treatment. Casa Palmera wants you to know that there is no shame in getting the help you need for your addiction. We hope to take away the shame, guilt and stigma that keeps people from getting the help they need and deserve. We can do this by providing key information about diagnostic criteria for alcohol addiction by asking questions that can help you think more critically about your drinking habits. Then we’ll provide the quality care that you deserve. 

11 Clinical Criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder

As more research is done on addictions, it’s becoming well-known in the clinical community that they are a disease and should be treated accordingly. In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association released the 5th Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) that finally deemed alcohol use disorder as a legitimate diagnosis. Produced by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, below are the diagnostic criteria that clinicians use to determine if someone has an alcohol use disorder: 

  1. Alcohol is taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
  2. There is a desire or effort to reduce or control alcohol use that is unsuccessful.
  3. A lot of time is spent obtaining, using or recovering from alcohol use.
  4. There is a craving to use alcohol.
  5. Alcohol use impacts obligations at work, school or home.
  6. Alcohol use continues despite social or interpersonal problem caused or exacerbated by alcohol use.
  7. Alcohol use gets in the way of usual social, occupational or recreational activities.
  8. Alcohol use continues in hazardous situations.
  9. Alcohol use cannot be stopped even though there is a knowledge of a problem that is caused or exacerbated by alcohol use.
  10. There is a tolerance of alcohol that occurs, such as having to drink more than before to reach the desired effect or noticing that the normal intake does not have the same effect as before.
  11. There are withdrawal symptoms that occur once the effects of the alcohol has worn off.

Alcohol use disorder can be diagnosed when at least two of the above symptoms are present. Depending on how many symptoms a person shows, a clinician can figure out if a case is mild, moderate or severe.

Thinking Critically About Your Drinking Habits

It’s not uncommon for there to be signs of a problem before you realize that there is a problem. Not only is it difficult to come to terms with a tough personal situation, it can also be hard to see that there is a problem when you are using. This is why it’s important to remain in contact with the people in your support system. They may notice subtle shifts in your behavior or mood before you do. If someone you love and trust brings up a concern, try to understand that they are coming from a place of love. Instead of getting defensive, listen to their concerns and work together to figure out a plan that puts your health and wellbeing first. It can also help to take a step back and acknowledge that you might have unhealthy drinking habits. Read the questions below and think about how they may apply to your life:

    1. Do you tend to isolate yourself so that you can drink larger amounts of alcohol than you normally would if you were around your loved ones?
    2. Do you often find excuses to drink or turn down other obligations so that you have an opportunity to drink?
    3. Do you drink excessive amounts, so much so that you have experienced memory loss or black out?
    4. Do you experience intense mood swings or irritability when you drink?
    5. Do you shift your behavior so that it revolves around your drinking habits?

Casa Palmera Can Help You Get Sober

Here at Casa Palmera, we understand that addictions are a disease. We offer treatment options that can help you get sober and live a long, healthy substance-free life. At Casa Palmera, there is no shame, guilt or stigma in getting help for alcohol use disorder. Help is within reach and asking for the support you deserve is one of the bravest things you can do.

 If you think you may be struggling with alcohol or substance use disorder and you think that you can benefit from sobriety, Casa Palmera is here for you. We offer residential and outpatient programs that can work for you. We provide a safe environment that includes 12-step programs and evidence-based treatment that integrate traditional and holistic treatment components. We also have co-occurring programs for people who experience symptoms of mood disorders or deal with the impacts of trauma. If you are ready to take this next step toward wellness, Casa Palmera is here for you. Call our friendly and knowledgeable staff at (855) 508-0473. We can’t wait to speak with you and get you the help you need today! Your life can begin again with help from Casa Palmera. Take this next step toward your successful future now.



This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.