Alcoholism Symptoms: Warning Signs of Alcoholism
Because drinking alcohol is woven into so many aspects of society in the United States, alcoholism symptoms can sometimes be overlooked. It's easy to miss when a person goes from social drinking to heavy drinking and then into alcoholism, particularly when most people don't know what the warning signs of alcoholism are. It should be remembered that the absence of some alcoholism symptoms doesn't mean there isn't problem drinking; it may mean that the person abuses alcohol but is not yet fully an alcoholic.
This first of the warning signs of alcoholism that should be carefully noted is: Does drinking cause problems in your life? If the answer to this is yes, then you have a problem with alcohol and it may be an alcoholism symptom.
Alcoholism Symptoms - Tolerance as a Warning Sign of Alcoholism
Tolerance is one of the defining symptoms of alcoholism. Tolerance to alcohol is when more and more alcohol is needed to achieve the same effect. For example, if a person finds that alcohol relaxes them, one of the warning signs of alcoholism is that the person needs more and more alcohol to feel relaxed.
Alcoholism Symptoms - Withdrawal as a Warning Sign of Alcoholism
The second of the defining symptoms of alcoholism is the experience of alcohol withdrawal when not drinking. Withdrawal is negative physical symptoms that appear when not drinking alcohol. For example, one of the warning signs of alcoholism is when a person needs a drink first thing in the morning just to "get going". Alcoholism symptoms around withdrawl: may make a person extremely irritable, angry or depressed. Withdrawal is not the same thing as a hangover.
Other alcoholism signs and symptoms related to withdrawal include:iii
- Anxiety or jumpiness
- Shakiness or trembling
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
Alcoholism Symptoms - Compulsive Need to Drink One of Warning Signs of Alcoholism
Symptoms of alcoholism include behaviors around the compulsive need to drink. Alcohol addicts can't control their drinking and can't stop even if they want to. Compulsive drinking behaviors seen as one of the warning signs of alcoholism include:
- Being unable to control the amount of alcohol consumed (read: how much alcohol is too much?)
- Drinking in secret or alone
- Hiding alcohol
- Creating rituals around alcohol, always drinking at certain times and becoming irritated or angry if the ritual is disturbed
- Repeatedly drinking to the point of blacking out
- Drinking in spite of legal, financial, employment or personal problems caused by drinking
Other Alcoholism Signs and Symptoms
Alcoholism is a disease that consumes every part of a person's life. The alcoholism signs and symptoms can generally be seen at home, at work and in daily life. Alcoholism symptoms encompass any negative way in which drinking is impacting the alcoholic's life. Common warning signs of alcoholism include:
- Gulping drinks or ordering doubles to become intoxicated more quickly, to feel good or just to feel normal
- Giving up other activities such as sports or hobbies due to drinking
- Alcohol becoming the main focus of daily life and taking up a lot of time and attention
Last Updated: 20 June 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD