Alcohol is a highly prevalent part of our society, with many of us enjoying it sensibly and in moderation. A glass of wine with dinner or a few quiet drinks on a Friday night may be sustainable but drinking habits can become problematic. As such a normalised part of our culture it can be difficult to know when our drinking has crossed the line and become a dangerous addiction. Despite its perceived harmlessness, alcohol ranks second only to tobacco as the most preventable cause of health-related harm or death. This makes recognising the signs and symptoms of alcoholism and alcohol abuse essential to helping your loved ones overcome their addiction.
Alcoholism or Alcohol Abuse
Though the two terms are often used interchangeably, it is important to understand the difference between alcoholism and alcohol abuse. Both occur due to a wide range of factors – from genetics to social circles to mental state – and both types of addiction have an increased risk with family history. Both are also self-destructive habits that impact the victim, their families and friends. Alcohol abuse, however, precedes alcoholism and describes an individual who still has some control over their drinking habit. Alcohol abuse is a major risk factor for becoming an alcoholic and enduring a stressful event can quickly trigger complete dependence.
Early Intervention is Essential – Common Signs of Alcohol Abuse
With many alcohol abusers later becoming dependant on the substance, it is important to understand when you or your loved one’s social drinking has escalated to dangerous levels. Here are some common symptoms.
- Using alcohol dangerously i.e. drink driving or drinking while on medication
- Continued drinking despite its negative affects both legally and in relationships
- Neglecting responsibilities, at work or school, at home and socially
- Using alcohol as a way to relieve stress
Our Most Severe Drinking Problem – What Are the Signs?
Alcoholism describes a crippling physical dependence on the substance and is ranked as the most severe alcohol problem. If you or someone you know is compelled to and relies on drinking alcohol they are an alcoholic. Here are some signs.
- Increased Tolerance – some people pride themselves on being able to “hold their drinks” more than others but if you or someone you know has increased their drinking to feel the same effects that they used to, this is an early sign of alcoholism
- An Inability to Quit – wanting to quit is an essential step but if someone is unable to beat your alcohol habit, they exhibit classic signs of alcoholism
- Withdrawal Symptoms – have you ever got a headache because you’ve missed your morning coffee? This is a sign of dependence and it’s the same with alcoholism. If you exhibit this sign or others when you go without alcohol, this is a major sign. Other symptoms include anxiety, depression and nausea
Denial is a classic sign of people who struggle with alcohol, but it’s important to see through this façade. Alcohol rehab centres can help your loved ones on the road to recovery.