Understanding the signs of alcohol abuse is the first step in possibly saving the life of someone you love, or maybe even your own. Many signs of alcohol abuse are similar to those of recreational drinkers. The biggest difference often lies in the severity of the effects excessive drinking has on the mind and body.
If you find yourself relating to these signs of alcohol abuse, take note of how many of them apply.
1. Memory Loss
Losing your memory, whether it’s a day’s worth of memories or a handful of hours, is a definite sign of alcohol abuse. Consuming large amounts of alcohol, even occasionally, can destroy the neurological connections which retain our memories. While a single night of heavy drinking can make you forget that day’s events, continuous alcohol abuse can cause permanent damage to long-term memory.
2. Legal Troubles
Alcohol abusers often become completely different individuals when under the influence. When drinking leads to illegal behaviors you normally wouldn’t do while sober, a drinking problem may very well be the culprit. Driving while intoxicated, assaulting another individual, and other illegal activities are telltale signs of alcohol abuse. Legal troubles in relation to alcohol abuse will cost you much more than just your money.
3. Drinking Alone
Heavy drinking while alone is a warning sign of alcohol abuse. It is not necessarily worrisome if a few drinks are consumed on a night after a breakup or loss of a loved one. There should be concern, however, if you find yourself drinking alone on a normal day. Sitting in front of the television, consuming large amounts of alcohol for no reason, is a sign of problem drinking.
4. Inability to Stop
Alcoholics do not have the ability to set a limit and adhere to it. If you find yourself consuming many more drinks than you intended, it may be a sign of alcohol abuse. Further, if you feel you need another drink after just finishing one, regardless of how intoxicated you have become, your mind and body may be addicted to alcohol. A telltale sign of alcohol abuse is not being able to know when you have had enough to drink.
5. Higher Tolerance
Tolerance levels vary from one individual to the next. Your height, weight, and gender all contribute to the amount of alcohol required to feel its effects. But if you are finding more and more drinks are needed to reach the same buzz as before, you may be moving toward an alcohol abuse disorder. In general, most individuals need the same number of drinks before feeling the effects of alcohol, usually between 2 to 4 drinks. Those needing entire bottles of alcohol or an entire 12-pack of beer have reached a tolerance level and should seek treatment.
6. Lying to Everyone
Hiding your drinking from others is a clue a problem may exist. If you’re telling friends and family that you are doing one thing, when you’re really drinking, it means that something has led you to believe that you need to hide your drinking habits. This is a huge issue, because it isn’t just lying to friends and family. Often, individuals with abusing alcohol lie to themselves. Alcohol abusers will tell themselves they can control their drinking, can stop anytime, or that no problem exists at all.
7. Change in Priorities
Leading a productive life requires keeping up with certain priorities. When drinking overtakes basic priorities, it is an indication of an alcohol problem becoming worse. Examples of prioritizing drinking include using monthly bill money to purchase alcohol, choosing to drink than participate in health events, and neglecting time with family and friends.
8. Drinking Dangerously
Drinking can lead to choices you would not make while sober. Getting behind the wheel while intoxicated or picking a fight with someone could happen to anyone that has been drinking and cannot control themselves. Decisions that fall outside the realm of recreational use can be dangerous and. For example, choosing to drink before work or drinking while on medication when specifically advised by a physician not to do so indicate alcohol has surpassed one’s ability to make the right choice.
9. Relationship Problems
Alcohol abuse will impact the relationships you have with friends and family. Unfortunately, it is only after weeks or months of alcohol abuse before someone notices deterioration in their relationships. For example, friends may begin to ignore you and avoid your phone calls. When drinking is causing problems with your family, your significant other, and the most important people in your life, it is time to seek out help.
10. Withdrawal Symptoms
Many individuals mistake hangovers as a sign of alcohol withdrawal. A hangover results from drinking too much, and is your body’s response to eliminating alcohol from its system. Those who abuse alcohol may suffer from withdrawal symptoms, and signs can include irritability, tiredness, nausea, anxiousness, and depression.
Recognizing Alcohol Abuse
Experiencing one of the above signs alone may not indicate a drinking problem. But if you or a loved one suffers from two or more signs, the probability of alcohol abuse is likely and this may be an indicator of a more serious issue.
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