Learn to Recognize the Signs of an Alcohol Problem
Withdrawal symptoms, relationship troubles may be red flags, expert says
TUESDAY, May 5, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- More than 17 million Americans suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence. But not everyone can tell when heavy drinking crosses the line to alcoholism.
To help people identify when drinking becomes a problem, Dr. William Jacobs, chief of addiction medicine at Georgia Regents University's Medical College of Georgia, outlined five major signs of alcohol abuse or dependence:
- One is a high tolerance for alcohol, which means a person drinks increasing amounts of alcohol. Someone with a high tolerance may drink more than others without showing obvious signs of intoxication.
- Another sign is having withdrawal symptoms when not drinking. These symptoms include anxiety, trembling, jumpiness, sweating, nausea and vomiting, insomnia, irritability, depression, fatigue, headaches and loss of appetite. Some people suffer potentially life-threatening withdrawal seizures, Jacobs said in a university news release.
- People with a drinking problem often spend less time on activities that used to be important to them because their drinking is consuming more of their time, energy and focus.
- Those who are addicted to alcohol may continue to drink despite negative consequences. Work troubles, damage to a marriage or other relationships or health problems are some possible consequences.
- The fifth sign is that someone can't quit or reduce their drinking even when they want to.
If you or someone you know has these signs of alcohol addiction, help is available. Talk to your doctor and/or seek professional counseling, Jacobs advised.
Long-term alcohol use can harm every organ in your body, including your brain, according to Jacobs. Alcohol abuse can also damage your career, finances, emotional stability, and adversely impact your family and friends, he noted.
"Alcohol use disorders are equal opportunity diseases. People from all walks of life are affected, but with the appropriate treatment and care, lifelong recovery is possible," he said.
The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has more about alcohol use disorders.