Am I an Alcoholic?
If you are looking to determine whether you have a problem with alcohol, you might have just answered your own question. If you think you have a drinking problem, it is worth trusting your instinct.
Those who abuse alcohol are also known as people living with an alcohol use disorder (AUD). Experiences vary, but individuals with an AUD generally exhibit certain behaviors, which can be seen as red flags or warning signs.
People don’t often realize the true extent of their drinking. In some instances, this is because they don’t think they participate in alcohol abuse or fit the stereotype. However, if alcohol is consumed frequently or exceeds the government guidelines, an AUD may be present.
Unfortunately, excessive drinking can lead to alcohol dependence, otherwise known as an addiction. When an addiction arises, it impairs many aspects of life, such as physical health, psychological health, work, and finances.
Whether you have an addiction or not, if you find it difficult to control how much you drink and want to quit drinking, it is essential to seek help today. Across the country, various treatment centers, such as our own, can help you.
What Is Alcohol Abuse?
Alcohol is a powerful drug that can cause short and long-term health problems such as:
- High blood pressure
- Heart problems
- Liver problems
- Brain injury
Alcohol is socially accepted, and many people have tried it at least once. In 2019, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) conducted a survey on alcohol which found that 85.6% of people in the US over 18 have tried alcohol at least once. In addition, 25.8% of people had reported binge drinking.
Government guidelines state that men should not drink more than two drinks on any day. On the other hand, women are advised not to drink more than one drink containing alcohol a day. However, this is only general advice. If you are pregnant, on medication, or have a health issue that could worsen when alcohol is consumed, you should refrain from drinking. If you are unsure whether or not you should drink alcohol, seek medical advice.
Binge drinking refers to an event in which a significant amount of alcohol is consumed within a short period. Roughly, this is categorized by men drinking five or more drinks in two hours. Meanwhile, it is four or more drinks for women in about two hours.
Binge drinking comes with immediate side effects and risks, including:
- Injuries, such as falls or burns
- Heart attack
- Violent behavior or being the victim of a violent crime
- Unsafe sex and sexually transmitted infections
- Driving under the influence
- Alcohol poisoning
What Are the Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder?
A physical or psychological dependence on alcohol is known as an addiction or AUD, a type of substance use disorder (SUD) and illness that should be taken seriously.
AUDs usually develop gradually. Over time, your drinking habits may become your new normal, and as a result, you may be unable to spot any differences in your behavior. Like many other people who engage in problematic drinking, you may even be unaware of any adverse side effects of your alcohol use.
When questioning whether you have an alcohol dependence, being honest with yourself is key to realizing whether you need help with your drinking.
Although signs and symptoms of an alcohol use disorder vary, they often include:
- Drinking heavily
- Frequently consuming alcohol
- Becoming fixated on getting your next drink
- Drinking at inappropriate times of the day
- Losing interest in things you once enjoyed due to drinking
- Prioritizing drinking over everything else
- Being secretive or defensive about your drinking habits
- Denying the extent of your drinking
- Failing commitments or obligations
- Poor performance at school or work
- Risky behavior, such as driving under the influence
- Experiencing financial issues due to drinking
- Being unable to give up drinking
In addition to the above, if you engage in drinking alcohol or alcohol abuse, you may find that you experience withdrawal symptoms if you stop drinking. In turn, you will likely encounter alcohol cravings.
If you have a physical addiction to alcohol, professional medical advice should be sought as you will need to complete a detox program. It is important not to go cold turkey or attempt to detox without consulting a healthcare professional, as detoxing from alcohol can have dangerous and sometimes life-threatening consequences.
What Is Functioning Alcoholism?
Functioning alcoholism describes an alcohol use disorder (AUD) whereby an individual can still function adequately in society. They may not show the typical behavioral symptoms of someone with an AUD, but they still engage in frequent drinking or binge drinking.
In those with functioning alcoholism, the signs of an AUD may be bubbling just under the surface, ready to come out the moment they let their guard down or go too far with their drinking problem.
If you have functioning alcoholism, you may go to a lot of effort to hide the effects of your alcohol abuse. You may even joke about your heavy drinking or alcohol abuse and alcoholism, and you may even act self-deprecating about your drinking problem.
Furthermore, you may engage in risky behaviors without being caught. Your drinking might have also started to affect your relationships and job opportunities.
How Do I Get Help for Alcohol Addiction?
If you have an alcohol addiction, you will need to secure medical treatment for alcohol abuse and alcoholism. Across the country, many rehab centers and detox centers, such as our own, provide inpatient treatment programs and various treatment options.
Admitting you have a problem can be one of the most significant barriers to alcohol recovery. Confiding in a loved one, friend, or medical professional can be daunting, but it is an essential step. You will find that support, guidance, and addiction treatment are available by talking to someone. You will also realize that you are not alone.
When you take the first step in securing help for your substance abuse, you will undergo medical detox. This particular addiction treatment rids the body of alcohol and other substances, relieving the physical addiction. Detoxing can be uncomfortable due to experiencing withdrawal symptoms, but by detoxing in a rehab center with medical assistance, you will be made comfortable. Medications are also available at a detox center to alleviate withdrawal symptoms if necessary.
Though you may not want to go to a detox center as an inpatient, doing so is in your best interest. Unfortunately, detoxing at home is not always safe due to the side effects that may arise.
What Are Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?
Most people experience withdrawal symptoms during alcohol detox. The intensity of symptoms differs from person to person, with some people only experiencing mild and manageable symptoms.
Common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Fever and sweating
- Tremors or the shakes
- Nausea and vomiting
- Irritability and mood swings
Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can start within eight hours of your last drink. However, the length of detox depends on your medical profile and the extent of your alcohol use.
If you have a severe alcohol use disorder, you may experience intense withdrawal symptoms called delirium tremens (DTs). In this instance, medical supervision will be available. Symptoms of DTs include:
- Agitation and irritability
- Mental confusion
- High blood pressure
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of consciousness
What Does Recovery Look Like?
Once the detox process is over, your physical addiction to alcohol will subside. However, detox does not necessarily cater to psychological addiction. For this reason, your recovery will likely also include inpatient and outpatient therapy, such as psychotherapy, group therapy, and family therapy. You may also attend support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
Alcohol use disorders often co-occur with psychiatric disorders such as clinical depression, major depression, bipolar disorder, and antisocial personality disorder. Studies have found that alcohol abuse can cause signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety, psychosis, and antisocial behavior, both during intoxication and during withdrawal. If you have an underlying mental health problem, therapy will help you address it and learn how to cope with triggers that could otherwise lead to a relapse.
For many people, alcohol recovery is a lifelong journey that requires ongoing support. Luckily, help is available before, during, and after recovery if you have a problem with drinking.
Contact Us Today
If you worry that your relationship with alcohol has escalated beyond your control, please contact us today for support. We can inform you of the treatment options available at our center and help you take the first step in overcoming your drinking problem.