You wake up on the floor of your bathroom, after blacking out from the party the night before. The warning signs of alcoholism have made themselves known. Alcohol is one of the most popular substances out there, next to caffeine and tobacco. Whether to set the stage for a date or to escape from your intense feelings, alcohol can be a formidable agent.
Alcohol is a common substance in poly-drug use. Alcohol is recognized for its euphoric effect on the body. Users will experience poor coordination and perception, social confidence, and nausea. The global pandemic has increased alcohol sales, with a direct impact on alcohol use disorders. Alcohol use disorders could have been influenced by the isolation and economic instability spreading throughout society.
Most people know what it’s like to crack a few beers with friends, celebrate major life events, or unwind after a long day. But alcohol use can be so much more than just that for some people.
In 2019, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 10,142 deaths, which is 28.0% of overall driving fatalities. There are many warning signs of alcoholism that may come up that could signal this dangerous disorder.
An early sign of alcoholism is secret drinking. Secret drinking occurs when the user drinks in the early hours of the morning, outside the house, or alone. These early signs of alcoholism must be monitored. This is especially true since alcohol use is so common. In fact, according to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 85.6 percent of people ages 18 and older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime.
Early Signs of Alcoholism
The early warning signs of alcoholism may be different for teens than adults. Early detection of alcoholism is vital to addiction treatment success.
Common early signs of alcoholism include:
- Drinking before or during school hours
- Alcohol containers found in a room, backpack, or vehicle
- Changes in personality
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Wild mood swings and anger problems
- Spending more time and money on drinking alcohol
Other early signs of alcoholism include irritability and mood swings when there is no possible explanation for these feelings. Drinking more than usual or drinking early in the day can also be an early sign of alcoholism.
Binge drinking more than usual is another indication of an alcohol use disorder. Binge drinking and heavy drinking can boost the tolerance of the alcohol user if left unchecked.
Alcoholism may become apparent to others. In fact, alcoholism often becomes so apparent to others at some point that other people often start criticizing the person with the drinking problem. Such criticism can cause those individuals that are suffering from alcoholism to feel guilty and ashamed.
Individuals that suffer from alcoholism may also experience withdrawal symptoms whenever they minimize or stop their use of the substance. Examples of withdrawal symptoms that people that stop using alcohol abruptly after heavy consumption may start experiencing include sweating, splitting headaches, nausea, and seizures.
What Is An Alcohol Use Disorder?
An alcohol use disorder (AUD) refers to excessive drinking, despite the negative consequences and attempts to quit. It can affect your quality of life and relationships with family members and friends, which is why early detection is vital should there be any early warning signs of alcoholism.
An estimated 95,000 people (approximately 68,000 men and 27,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the third-leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
Alcoholism is a broad term to describe excessive alcohol use. There are a set of 11 factors clinicians use to determine that someone suffers from an alcohol use disorder. If a person exhibits at least 2 out of the 11 factors, then there’s a chance that he or she has an alcohol use disorder.
If you or someone you love displays early signs of alcoholism, finding help immediately will not only increase the likelihood of successful treatment but also reduce risks associated with developing an alcohol use disorder. It can affect your overall health, especially preventable diseases such as liver cancer.
How Do I Know If Someone Has Become an Alcoholic?
It is often difficult to immediately recognize if someone has developed an alcohol use disorder or not as early symptoms can simply appear as bad habits or even part of an individual’s personality traits. For example, early symptoms of alcoholism can simply be seen as risk-taking behaviors or signs of being overly active, impulsive, or disinhibited. As a result, alcohol contributes to about 18.5 percent of ED visits and 22.1 percent of overdose deaths related to prescription opioids.
Drinking at an early age can influence a person’s relationship with alcohol. If a parent or sibling abuses alcohol at home, the chances of that person’s child or younger sibling developing an alcohol use disorder increases. This doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically become addicted to drinking if you witness alcohol addiction at home. It does mean though, that witnessing alcohol abuse or addiction at home, especially at a young age, increases the odds of you developing a drinking problem yourself.
What Are The Stages of Alcoholism?
There are four stages of alcoholism, but not everyone will go through each stage. The warning signs of alcoholism get more intense as the disease progresses. Stage one of alcoholism includes drinking more than normal or missing school or work because of alcohol use.
Odd behaviors that may appear in stage one of alcoholism include:
- Spending a lot of time with friends who drink
- Planning activities around drinking
- Hiding alcohol in odd places so no one else finds it
Individuals with AUDs aren’t able to stop themselves from drinking, even when they try to. This is partly due to people with alcohol use disorders trying to avoid experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as feeling nauseated when not drinking.
If alcoholism progresses to stage two, the individual that suffers from alcoholism may experience the following:
- Blackouts or memory loss
- Continuing to drink early on even though it is interfering with family, job, and social activities
- The need for a drink early in the day, despite a hangover
Stage 3 and 4 of Alcoholism
Friends and family of alcoholics may notice these early signs of alcoholism. At this point, alcoholics may even have accidents due to being under the influence. People that suffer from alcoholism may also become withdrawn from friends and family at some point because of their drinking habits. Many people that suffer from alcoholism even struggle to get or maintain a job.
Once a person’s alcoholism progresses to stage 3, that person may start experiencing the following:
- Legal problems resulting from drunken behavior
- The inability to fulfill responsibilities at work
Stage four, or the end-stage of alcohol abuse, is considered the most severe. One warning sign of stage four of alcoholism can be when you feel as though you need to drink to live. At this stage, withdrawal symptoms can be unbearable, often driving individuals to relapse. Individuals that recovery from alcoholism after already reaching stage 4 of the disease are more likely to suffer from the long-term effects of the illness.
What Are the Symptoms of Alcoholism?
The symptoms of alcoholism include:
- Continued drinking despite physical or psychological problems
- Having a persistent desire to drink
- The inability to control the amount of alcohol that one consumes
- Drinking in larger amounts or over a longer time period than intended
- Drinking before or during school/work hours
If one or more of the following symptoms of alcoholism present themselves in a loved one, staging an intervention would be a suitable option. A professional interventionist can provide detailed steps to stage an intervention for an alcohol use disorder.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
The warning signs of alcoholism can often be associated with the effects of withdrawal symptoms. One alcohol withdrawal symptom and early sign of alcoholism is the development of tolerance. By tolerance, we mean that it will take more alcohol to feel the same effect as before.
Without enough alcohol in your system, individuals may also experience withdrawal symptoms such as:
- Increased blood pressure
- Stomach issues
- Uncontrollable shaking or tremors (in severe cases)
- Nausea and vomiting
What Are Some Alcohol Addiction Treatment Options?
If you’ve experienced the warning signs of alcoholism, present yourself with the opportunity to grow from here. Addiction is a chronic disease that robs the best moments of your life. However, addiction is a complex condition that is treatable.
The continuum of care for behavioral conditions is the best method to receive treatment. Evidence-based therapies are here to give you insight into alcoholism and how it could have formed from all angles.
Detox from drugs and alcohol is the preliminary step to addiction recovery. This is because, depending on the type of substance used and the frequency and amount used of that substance, withdrawal symptoms can be major addiction recovery obstacles.
Detoxification for substance abuse can last between 7-10 days. Medications can be provided to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol use disorders.
Inpatient treatment programs are structured to provide 24/7 care to patients with severe to moderate cases of addiction. A key benefit of inpatient treatment is the trigger-free environment.
The length of inpatient treatment programs varies by the severity of the patient’s condition. The average inpatient treatment stay lasts 30 days. 60-90 days of inpatient treatment are recommended for improved chances of recovery though.
Inpatient treatment programs offer psychotherapy. Some common forms of psychotherapy that inpatient addiction treatment offers include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, and group therapy.
Your addiction treatment counselor will run an evaluation of your history and medical background to determine what forms of addiction therapy are best suited for you. The cost of inpatient addiction treatment will be reflected in the location and amenities offered.
Outpatient treatment programs are less comprehensive than inpatient, but nonetheless impactful towards recovery. Treatment programs that are outpatient offer a discreet and flexible option for patients who may not have the chance to commit to an inpatient treatment program.
Outpatient treatment programs provide treatment on a weekly basis, for 4-6 hours sessions. The average length of time that a patient spends in outpatient treatment is 30 days but can be longer. Additionally, psychotherapy is offered to addiction therapy patients to uncover the triggers of their substance use disorders.
Outpatient treatment could be suited for those with moderate to mild cases of addiction. Outpatient treatment programs are generally more affordable than inpatient treatment programs.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Dual diagnosis treatment is employed to treat patients with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders. The practice of dual diagnosis treatment is promising, due to the growing numbers of recovering individuals with co-occurring disorders.
It’s important to treat both disorders in a dual diagnosis for the patient to maintain healthy living goals. The symptoms of mental health conditions often result in substance use and vice versa. Chronic relapse can be prevented through detailed and targeted treatment. 1 in 5 US adults suffer from mental health conditions.
If you’ve transitioned out of an inpatient treatment program, a sober living home could be the haven for your next steps. Sober living homes will provide you with support groups and treatment, in exchange for your ability to commit to steady work.
Sober living homes typically accept individuals at all stages of recovery. This is because entering the world after treatment can be challenging. Discovering a community to learn from in sober living can help guide you towards sobriety.
Support groups are cost-effective ways to share your experience with an alcohol use disorder. AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) is a support group for those who are in recovery. The meetings are held weekly through a moderator.
Online support groups are available for those who may not have the time to attend such support group meetings in person. Support groups often employ the 12-Step Program, which is a set of guidelines to practice towards recovery. The 12-Step Program is rooted in a faith-based approach.
Owls’ Nest is Here for Your Growth
Owl’s Nest understands the depths of struggles you’ve encountered throughout your addiction recovery process. Discovering the warning signs of alcoholism in a loved one can be heartbreaking. Thus, it’s vital to embrace healthy addiction treatment options.
Addiction recovery is not linear, but you do have an opportunity to change and overcome your addiction with plenty of support. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, contact us here at Owl’s Nest Recovery today.