Identifying the signs of alcohol abuse can be challenging in some cases. After all, the line between celebratory drinking and alcoholism can quickly become blurred. To further put this into context, those who are struggling with alcoholism may not even recognize that they have a problem. This is especially true of functional alcoholics, those who are capable of appearing normal and even sober under most circumstances. While an occasional drink can offer some health benefits, chronic drinking can lead to a variety of health problems. In addition, it may also impact your relationship with friends, families, and co-workers. In this article, we will detail the signs of alcohol abuse as well as common withdrawal symptoms.
Alcohol Addiction In Men And Women
Although men are more likely to abuse alcohol, there is a slightly smaller percentage of women who struggle with alcoholism as well. As such, they struggle with many of the same alcohol-related problems as men including binge drinking and, in some cases, an inability to function in normal day to day life. Generally speaking, alcohol abuse is characterized by the obsessive need to drink despite the risks to one’s health and the impact that it has on friends and family. In the context of binge drinking, women who consume more than four drinks in a span of two hours are said to be engaging in binge drinking. For men, the drink count is five or more. In both men and women, alcohol abuse can range from mild to moderate and may include the following signs and symptoms:
- An inability to limit the amount of alcohol consumed
- Multiple unsuccessful attempts to stop drinking
- Withdrawal symptoms that include nausea, vomiting, and tremors
- Drinking and driving
- Drinking in spite of physical and interpersonal problems
- Drinking that impacts work or school obligations
There are several more signs and symptoms associated with alcoholism. The information provided in this article only addresses the most common indicators of an alcohol problem.
Alcohol Intoxication Versus Alcohol Withdrawal
Although alcoholism is commonly associated with intoxication, some people consume alcohol merely for the sake of getting through daily life, hence the functional alcoholic. Nonetheless, let’s take a moment to address the physical changes that occur when someone is intoxicated versus going through alcohol withdrawal:
Intoxication is the byproduct of significant amounts of alcohol that has made it into the bloodstream. The more alcohol a person drinks, the more intoxicated they inevitably become. Some of the more common signs of intoxication entail sudden changes in mood, poor judgment, lack of coordination, and slurred speech. In some cases, drinking can lead to blackouts, which is characterized by the inability to recall certain events that may have transpired while they were drinking. It is also worth noting that extreme alcohol consumption may lead to coma or may be fatal.
Withdrawal is the end result of quitting alcohol after a period of extended use. Generally speaking, hallucinations, anxiety, irritability, and rapid heartbeat are some of the symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal. The longer someone goes without drinking, the more intense these symptoms become. Similar to being intoxicated, withdrawal symptoms can also impede one’s ability to function under certain conditions. It is also worth mentioning that the onset of withdrawal symptoms can occur within 2 hours of consuming your last alcoholic beverage and can last for 48 hours in most cases.
How Much Alcohol Is Too Much?
Having established the fact that 4 to 5 drinks within 2 hours is considered excessive, let’s take a moment to address what constitutes a drink. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a 12-ounce beer equals one alcoholic drink. As far as wine and hard liquor are concerned, 5 ounces of wine is considered one drink. The same can said for 1.5 ounces of hard liquor. Lastly, 8 to 9 ounces of malt liquor is considered one drink. That said, those who abuse alcohol will drink more than a couple of drink. In many cases, they will drink until they blackout/pass out. To say that alcoholism is a serious problem would be a gross understatement as it can completely alter the lives of the person doing the drinking and also those closest to them.
When Should You Seek Help For Alcohol Addiction?
Identifying alcohol addiction is not always easy; however, if you find that you’re consuming unhealthy amounts of alcohol or drinking is taking over your life, it may be a good idea to seek treatment. The same applies if you have a friend or family member who you believe has a problem with alcohol. Although most people with an alcohol problem are reluctant to speak with their physician regarding their problem, speaking to a physician can be a good way to start your journey towards overcoming a drinking problem. In some cases, a physician may be able to recommend a drug and alcohol program that can help you break free of your alcohol problem.
Even if you have been seen by a physician, it is still a good idea to seek treatment at an alcohol treatment center where you can begin detoxing, which aids in purging alcohol from the body in a safe and effective manner. During this process, you will experience many of the withdrawal symptoms detailed in this article; however, most facilities offer medically-assisted detox programs that can lessen the severity of your symptoms. In addition, you will have access to therapists who can help you adjust to a life free of alcohol. Needless to say, the process of overcoming the physical and psychological dependence on alcohol will be difficult; however, with the support of physicians, therapists, and friends and family, you will be able to overcome any obstacle that stands between you and sobriety.