Alcohol is the number one most-abused substance in the United States, according to recent national data. Over half of the people in the U.S. identify themselves as drinkers, and a significant percentage of those report engaging in binge drinking or regular heavy drinking. Since drinking alcohol is such a common practice, it can be difficult to distinguish when heavy drinking crosses the line and becomes alcohol abuse and addiction. The following are some of the signs and symptoms of alcoholism.
People who are addicted to alcohol feel more than a desire for it; they need it. They may feel that they need to drink in order to relax and have a good time, to fit in with others, or even to fall asleep at night. Getting and consuming alcohol take priority over everything else the person needs to do.
Alcoholics usually realize that their drinking has become a problem in the eyes of others. Consequently, they often take pains to conceal the extent of their alcohol consumption from friends, family, and coworkers.
When people have developed an addiction, there are often signs of it in their work performance and social relationships. Workers or students may stop meeting deadlines, or they may not be able to produce the quality of work they had done before they started drinking heavily. Alcohol also creates problems in social relationships, and alcoholics may distance themselves from friends or family members who oppose their drinking.
Alcoholism has physical symptoms as well as psychological and social ones. Alcoholics may experience the following physical symptoms:
- an increased tolerance for alcohol, needing more to get the same effect
- depression and anxiety
- increased risk of hypertension and heart disease
- increased risk of gastrointestinal problems, including ulcers or pancreatitis
- increased risk of injury due to impairment on the job or while driving
- increased risk of cancer of the liver and esophagus
- increased risk of cirrhosis and other diseases of the liver
If you see these signs or symptoms in yourself or a loved one, consider getting treatment at an alcohol treatment center. To read more articles about addiction symptoms and treatment, visit www.blogher.com.