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How to spot the signs of alcoholism

Alcohol is one of the most readily available and widely abused substances in the world. Though it is generally safe when consumed in moderate quantities, when alcohol is consumed excessively, this can result in the development of a harmful addiction and can seriously damage a person’s health and wellbeing. Due to the devastating impact that alcohol addiction can have on an individual’s life, it is important to be able to recognise the signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction in order to identify and address this condition.

There is a broad range of alcohol addiction symptoms, and without comprehensive professional treatment & alcohol detox, these symptoms have the potential to worsen over time and have a hugely detrimental impact on an individual’s quality of life, as well as their physical and psychological wellbeing. At Manor Clinic in Southampton, our intensive alcohol addiction treatment programmes empower our patients to address and overcome their addiction to alcohol, reduce their alcohol addiction symptoms, and resume a healthy, fulfilling, alcohol-free life.

What are the signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction?

The symptoms of alcohol addiction can vary from person to person and can be categorised according to their physical, psychological and behavioural/social consequences. Alcohol addiction symptoms may include:

Physical symptoms of alcohol addiction:

  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia
  • Increased or reduced appetite resulting in weight fluctuations
  • Injuries sustained whilst under the influence of alcohol
  • Developing a tolerance to alcohol – finding that you need to drink more and more alcohol in order to feel ‘drunk’
  • Experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms if you haven’t had a drink for a certain amount of time
  • Headaches caused by dehydration as a result of alcohol consumption
  • Lethargy
  • Sweating excessively in the absence of physical exertion
  • Losing interest in personal hygiene or grooming

Psychological symptoms of alcohol addiction:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Increased temper, irritability and agitation
  • Intense mood swings
  • Defensiveness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Paranoia
  • Poor memory and memory loss
  • Impaired judgement
  • Feeling tearful and emotionally tired
  • Feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness
  • Drinking for stress relief
  • Experiencing intense cravings for alcohol
  • Exacerbation of any existing mental health conditions

Behavioural/social symptoms of alcohol addiction:

  • Drinking heavily on your own, sometimes to the point of passing out
  • Drinking at inappropriate times of the day, such as first thing in the morning when you have just woken up
  • Drinking when it is dangerous to do so, such as drink driving, drinking before using heavy machinery and mixing alcohol with medication
  • Finding that you only tend to spend time with other people who drink heavily
  • Withdrawing from family and friends, leading to relationship problems
  • Loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed
  • Continuing to drink despite experiencing negative consequences related to drinking
  • Being in denial about your drinking habits – telling other people that they’re making too much fuss about your drinking, minimising or lying about the amount of alcohol that you drink, substantially underestimating the amount that you drink or placing the blame for your drinking on external factors such as saying “I drink because I’m stressed at work”
  • Being unable to meet personal responsibilities as a result of drinking
  • Being secretive or deceptive about your whereabouts or drinking habits
  • Poor performance and/or attendance at work
Contact The Manor Clinic Today

To discuss how the Manor Clinic team can help to support individuals and families dealing with an addiction issue or for further information on treatment and rehabilitation programmes, please call: 023 8046 4721 or click here to book a FREE ADDICTION ASSESSMENT. 

What are the long-term effects of alcohol addiction?

If it is left untreated, alcohol addiction can result in a range of profoundly negative, long-lasting effects on an individual’s life. The long term effects of alcohol addiction may include:

  • Legal problems including arrest and imprisonment
  • Job loss and unemployment
  • Financial strain
  • Development of another form of addiction such as drug addiction
  • Social isolation
  • Family and relationship breakdowns
  • Increased risk of accidents, violence, and suicide

Alcohol addiction can also lead to long-term physical health complications, including:

  • Liver damage
  • Kidney failure
  • Gout
  • Ulcers
  • Pancreatitis
  • Weakened immune system
  • Increased risk of different types of cancer
  • Heart problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Permanent cognitive impairment
  • Sexual dysfunction

In addition to the above, excessive alcohol consumption increases an individual’s risk of suffering from an alcohol overdose, also known as ‘alcohol poisoning’, which can be a potentially fatal experience. Signs that someone may have overdosed on alcohol include:

  • Slowed or irregular breathing
  • Bluish or pale skin
  • Reduced body temperature
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

This page was reviewed by Sarina Wheatman (FDAP) in October 2019 and is scheduled to be reviewed again in October 2021.

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