Signs of Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol Addiction vs. Alcohol Abuse
Alcoholism and alcohol abuse are not synonymous terms. Although people frequently use them interchangeably, there are qualities that differentiate one condition from the other. Clinically speaking, Alcohol Abuse manifests as a cluster of maladaptive behaviors that in their own right are highly destructive to the life of the drinker, in addition to being detrimental to their mental and physical health. Alcohol Abuse, though clinically different from Alcohol Addiction, is nonetheless a progressive condition that over time tends to worsen and in its own right requires treatment.
Definition of Alcohol Addiction
Having stated thus, it is significant that Alcohol Addiction, on the other hand, or Alcoholism, is not just a cluster of behaviors that define Abusive behavior, but is an entrenched, pathologically deteriorating disease that is marked by specific psychological impairments, and frequently manifests in the presence of other mental health disorders – what are referred to as co-occurring disorders – the presence of which is regarded in the field of Addiction as what is known as a Dual Diagnosis (more below), a complex set of traits, tendencies, behaviors and characteristics that taken together present distinct challenges to even the most competent treatment teams.
Differences Between Abuse and Addiction
Alcohol Abuse differs from Alcoholic Addiction because it typically lacks the nuances that occur with other mental health disorders. Alcohol Addiction features a complex interplay between inherited, genetic traits, learned coping mechanisms, and psychological features. Another feature of Alcohol Addiction is the presence of traits and behaviors that often manifest and which have no bearing whatsoever on any drug, medication, or liquor.
Behavioral Signs of Alcohol Addiction
Today, current research suggests that there is a host of conditions that are defined by compulsive traits that often have little or nothing to do with Addiction or Abuse. Compulsively overeating, acting out sexually or gambling, are examples of compulsive disorders that fall into the category of Addiction rather than abuse. It is for this reason that Alcohol Addiction earns its own page and needs to be regarded differently from Abuse; and why experts in the treatment field of substance abuse make a distinction between Abuse and Alcoholism. Indeed, one of the chief differences between the two conditions is that, unlike Alcoholics, Alcohol Abusers frequently have some ability to set limits on their drinking; however destructive and dangerous to themselves or others their Abuse might be; for a genuine Alcoholic, this would be virtually impossible.
Some of the more common signs of alcohol addiction include:
- Chronically neglecting responsibilities with regards to hygiene, work, and parenting.
- Erosion of relationships with friends or significant others.
- Demonstrating difficulties in school.
- Difficulty maintaining employment
- There are virtually hundreds of scenarios in which Addiction will express itself in the course of an Alcoholic’s day. These range from dodging creditors to lying about liquor consumption to simply making them unavailable to their family, their friends, or their employers.
- Consuming liquor in manners and ways that puts themselves physically in harm’s way. Examples of this include driving intoxicated, reaching alcohol toxicity, sustaining health problems such as cirrhosis, or mixing liquor with other drugs to amplify the effects of the alcohol.
- Acquiring mounting legal troubles. This might include theft from an employer (embezzlement), to getting arrested for driving under the influence (DUI.); in addition to the myriad ways in which Alcoholic’s act-out with anti-social behaviors.
- Acquiring tolerance and dependence to liquor, a state which defines the Addictive process and virtually defines all Addictive conditions. What this means is that over time the individual requires increasingly larger and larger doses to function, as well as maintain the initial effects of the liquor.
- Continuing to drink despite increasingly catastrophic consequences, such as unemployment, abuse, or neglect of children, in addition to the deteriorating relationship of every kind. Included on this list can be drinking despite the feelings of self-loathing that tend to haunt the Addict or Alcoholic, and in turn, are used by the Alcoholic to rationalize future compulsive behaviors.
- Drinking with the specific goal of alleviating stress or to even out, or, even more sinister, drinking to stave off withdrawal symptoms.
Physical Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction
It is worth noting that although Alcohol Abuse is certainly worrisome and causes disastrous consequences in one’s life, Alcoholism is the most severe form of problem drinking a treatment team will have to deal with. Other signs and symptoms of Alcohol Addiction that commonly occur include:
- Experiencing Anxiety when not drinking.
- Demonstrating shakiness or tremors.
- Disruptions in sleep patterns; e.g. insomnia or an inability to remain asleep.
- Experiencing anhedonia or depression.
- Loss of appetite or fluctuation in weight; e.g. weight gain or weight loss.
Additional Signs of Alcohol Addiction
For loved ones dealing with an active Alcoholic, it is a fine line between setting boundaries that protect them from further damage and exposure to the loved one who is drinking, and trying to support that same loved one in a way that neither harms them or enables them. This is a difficult course to navigate and no one should attempt it without support. There are resources available to Alcoholics no matter how isolated they might feel; and isolation is a hallmark of both the condition of the Alcohol Addict as it is for their friends and loved ones – the condition literally takes innocent bystanders and hold them hostage, ransoming them off as necessary in a bid to continue drinking.
Still more signs to watch for that indicates the presence of Alcohol Addiction includes:
- An apparent loss of control over one’s liquor consumption.
- The drinker wants to stop but is unable on their own to achieve sobriety.
- Alcohol has steadily eroded interest in hobbies or other areas of interests that once occupied the drinker’s time.
- Hiding bottles.
- Lying about when and how much liquor one has consumed.
Signs of Denial
In tandem with these manifestations is the state of Denial that plagues every Addict or Alcoholic into treatment. This essentially refers to a person’s inability to honestly assess their condition or how it is impacting those around them. Denial, though not in itself necessarily crippling, is nonetheless a state of mind – an attitude, if you will, or an orientation – that will have to be addressed and dismantled at some point in the treatment process; preferably sooner, to facilitate the Alcoholic’s recovery and forward growth.
Noticing the signs of alcohol addiction in yourself or a loved one can be extremely upsetting. Of course, there are resources available to help. Contact Authentic Recovery Center at 866-256-0051 to learn more.