The Warning Signs of Alcoholism to Look Out For

Data from the National Institutes on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimate over seventeen million adults in the United States struggle with an alcohol abuse disorder to varying degrees. Another nine million adolescents and teens between the ages of twelve and seventeen also meet the diagnostic criteria for alcohol abuse disorder. Unlike some addictions such as those related to opioids and some illicit drugs, an addiction to alcohol takes time to develop. Alcoholism develops out of long-term alcohol abuse. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) lists several diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorder. Even if you or a loved one only have a few symptoms, you could still benefit from alcohol addiction recovery. 

Classic Signs of Alcoholism

While no two people experience alcohol addiction in the same way, there are several common signs and symptoms that are seen in many who struggle with an adverse relationship with alcohol. In clinical and medical settings, alcohol use disorders are classified according to severity. The DSM-5 lists eleven criteria used by mental health providers to diagnose alcohol use disorder. When one exhibits two or three of these signs it classifies as a mild alcohol use disorder whereas six or more would be considered severe. 

When someone struggles with addiction, they often experience a varying range of physical and psychological symptoms. If left untreated, alcohol abuse can quickly evolve into something severe and life-threatening. Knowing the warning signs of alcoholism can help ensure you or loved one receive addiction treatment early on, increasing your chances for achieving sobriety and long-term recovery. Some of the most common symptoms of alcohol abuse include:

  • Sudden changes in mood or frequent mood swings; especially when not drinking. 
  • Cognitive changes including blackouts and short-term memory loss.
  • Choosing drinking over responsibilities to family, work, etc.
  • Worsening hygiene and changes to appearance.
  • Drinking alone and making excuses for needing or wanting to drink (finding reasons to drink).
  • Increasing isolation and changes to one’s usual social circle. 
  • Experiencing the onset of withdrawal symptoms when reducing or stopping drinking.
  • Trying to reduce or stop drinking and relapsing.
  • New or worsening financial difficulties due to needing to buy alcohol. 
  • New or worsening legal difficulties related to drinking.

What Is the Best Way to Treat Alcoholism?

When choosing to quit alcohol, it is important to do so safely and in a supportive environment. Quitting alcohol “cold turkey,” can be dangerous and in some cases, fatal due to the sudden onset of life-threatening withdrawal symptoms some may experience. To ensure detox is safe and successful, it is essential to receive comprehensive medical care and support throughout the detox process. As your body attempts to adjust to not having alcohol, various side effects will occur. Depending on the severity and duration of your addiction, these effects will vary in severity. In a medically supervised detox setting, a team of skilled medical professionals will monitor your vital signs throughout and provide emergency medical intervention should it be necessary. 

Once you have detoxed at an inpatient treatment center like Rise in Malibu, you will seamlessly transition into a comprehensive, individualized addiction treatment program. Our skilled treatment professionals will work with you and your family to develop a comprehensive, evidence-based addiction treatment plan that considers your unique treatment needs and goals. 

Each person struggles with addiction in their own way and therefore, addiction treatment programs must address the whole person as an individual, not as an addiction. At Rise, we ensure your physical, emotional and spiritual needs are met throughout the course of your stay in our luxury malibu location. Research has shown that early and comprehensive treatment are the keys to achieving sobriety. If you or a loved one struggle with alcohol addiction, reach out to Rise in Malibu today. Let our admissions team guide you on the first steps of your sobriety journey. 

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