Have you ever found yourself asking, am I an alcoholic? Alcohol use disorder is characterized by a person’s loss of control over alcohol intake, compulsive alcohol use, and a negative emotional state when not using. At a severe level, it’s more commonly referred to as alcoholism.
Do any of the traits sound applicable to you? Alcohol dependence can last a lifetime, if not treated. But there is hope to live a life free of alcohol and addiction so don’t feel discouraged if you find yourself continuously falling into old habits.
There are questions you can ask yourself as part of a self-assessment to help you identify if you are an alcoholic.
- When drinking, do you typically avoid friends or family?
- Have you ever been unable to remember part of an evening after drinking?
- If socializing, do you often drink more than others and/or finish other people’s drinks?
- Do you feel guilty about your drinking?
- Have close friends or family members expressed concern about your drinking habits?
- Have your work or interpersonal relationships been negatively affected by your drinking?
- Have you ever been pulled over and/or arrested due to drinking?
If you are starting to wonder, do I have a drinking problem, answering “yes” to the questions may be your answer. Fortunately, there are ways alcoholism can be treated so it no longer affects your physical health and mental state.
How to Spot the Most Common Signs of Alcoholism
So, how do you know if you’re an alcoholic? When your body becomes addicted to alcohol, it will start to change and you will be able to see and feel the signs of alcoholism. These may include:
- Self-destructive behavior
- Impulsive behavior
Depending on how your body processes alcohol, you may experience all of these symptoms or none of them. You may feel a great sense of euphoria when you drink, only to suffer from migraines or other negative physical symptoms afterwards. Another sign of alcohol addiction is if you shake or feel dizzy from lack of alcohol. This is your body going through withdrawal symptoms. Because of the differences in behaviors and reactions, there is no way to identify an alcoholic.
Although moderate drinking in some cases has been researched as being healthy, if you are exceeding more than 3-4 drinks per day or more than 14 per week for men and 7 per week per women, you are considered a heavy drinker and at-risk for alcohol use disorder, per the NIAAA.
Alcohol dependence can also hit you in college especially hard as binge drinking is a common problem on campuses across the country. Of the 60 percent of people ages 18-22 who reported drink, nearly 2 out of 3 students reported binge drinking. What counts as binge drinking? When you consume large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time, leaving your body unable to process it in a timely way.
Consider if you suffer from any of these signs or if alcohol has had a negative effect on your life. Don’t wait until the worst case scenario to happen before considering receiving help. Addiction is a journey and everyone takes their own unique path to sobriety.
Are You a Functional Alcoholic?
Maybe your drinking behavior doesn’t match the symptoms above at all. But do you always need a few drinks to get through the day? Even if you’re not drunk, does it feel better for you to consistently be buzzed? It is often harder to identify a functional alcoholic because of how “normal” everything seems to be. But your body is still being negatively affected by alcohol.
If you drink more than the 3-4 drinks per day, but don’t feel it’s affected you at work or in your relationships, you may be denying alcohol abuse. Regardless of how well you are able to function when you drink, in many instances, functional alcoholics have a co-existing condition, like anxiety or depression, that is leading to the excessive drinking.
Regardless of what your outwardly appearance might show, your alcohol intake is still doing damage to your liver and brain. It limits your motor functions and can result in memory loss. While these are scary thoughts it’s important to remember that there is still time to make a change. Alcoholism can stem from many different factors, such as family history, peer pressure, and using alcohol to deal with high stress situations. Don’t let your previous circumstances define you. Every day is a new chance at a life of sobriety.
Recognized that when you are using alcohol as an answer to other problems, those problems never go away fully. With alcohol treatment, you can learn how to start working your way through these different situations so you can feel healthier and happier.
What Alcohol Does to Your Body Over Time
Outward changes in appearance and behavior are only part of the signs of alcoholism. Alcohol consumption damages the body internally over time. In addition to the physical symptoms already mentioned, alcoholism can lead to:
- Heart damage
- Cirrhosis – damage to the liver
- Lung infections
- Birth defects or infertility
- Sexual dysfunction
Alcoholism can also affect your central nervous system, create low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia), as well as affect your immune system. In short, alcohol abuse damages your body in a way that is cumulative. It builds over time and works itself through your system, touching nearly every organ as it goes. Much of what is happening due to alcohol’s effects, you may not see until it’s too late and your body is not able to function in a healthy way.
Your primary care physician will notice the effects of alcohol and the damage it’s doing to your body. But it’s up to you to you whether you seek help or not. When you look at alcohol abuse from a healthcare perspective, wouldn’t you want to consider your treatment options just as you would any other disease? The right treatment program can help you regain control of your life. It’s important to never forget that addiction is a disease and needs to be treated as such.
How Long Does it Take to Detox From Alcohol?
An addiction to alcohol means your body craves it and “needs” it to function. When you are unable to abstain on your own, a detox program will help you rid alcohol from your system and start on a recovery path to sobriety. It’s highly recommended that you not go through detox on your own, as there could be intense side effects that could be a detriment to your mental health and well-being. We have qualified staff who want to help alcohol abusers through the process and can provide the medical and emotional support you may need.
Typically, the detoxification treatment of a rehab program takes 3-14 days with the first couple of days being the most severe symptoms-wise. As your brain and body is reacting to not having alcohol, you may suffer from tremors, mood swings, hallucinations, increased blood pressure, and seizures. It’s best to be in a safe, secure place where your health can be monitored and attended to during detox and as you transition into the next phase of the program.
Each detox period will be dependent on factors including:
- How much alcohol you consume daily
- How long you’ve struggled with alcohol use disorder
- Your weight, age, and overall health
- The last time you drank alcohol
- If you have any co-existing addictions or conditions
Another reason why it’s best to seek treatment help is so you can avoid relapse. Addiction means your body has control over your actions rather than vice-versa. Even if you want to abstain from drinking, physical symptoms will occur that will lead you to drink and continue the cycle of alcohol abuse.
Alcoholism is not something anyone should have to face alone. Get the help and support you need so you no longer have to live a life dependent on alcohol.Speak with an alcohol treatment specialist today to get the help you need.
Alcoholism Treatment Options
Once you’ve come to terms with your alcoholism and have decided to seek treatment you have options for where you go through alcohol rehab. You may choose to receive outpatient treatment following your detoxification. This includes time spent in support group meetings and one-on-one therapy to work through your alcoholism on a part-time basis so you can continue your family and work obligations. This provides a flexibility that you may be concerned about when considering treatment. Discuss any questions with us and we can help you choose a treatment plan that works best for you.
Many people suffering from alcoholism opt for inpatient treatment. At Above It All, you can go first go through detoxification and then, begin your inpatient program all at our facility. The benefit here is that you are able to fully concentrate on your sobriety in a calm, serene atmosphere with plenty of support to guide you on your recovery path. This includes group therapy, individual counseling sessions, alcoholism education, and learning how to cope with it when you transition back to your day-to-day life. The change in environment can have a positive impact if you want to work on your healing away from possible temptation and daily stresses of life.
No matter which form of treatment you choose, the dedication you give it will speak to its success. We also provide guidance and tools to help prevent relapse as that’s one of the biggest challenges faced during the recovery period. What happens if you go through detox and begin recovery, only to drink again? This relapse means you start from the first phase. It’s important that nothing is skipped because each stage of your recovery is dependent on the success of the last. Although it’s a setback, it’s not a failure.
Following your alcohol recovery program, we will set you up with resources for support groups for aftercare. Recovery is an ongoing effort and it makes a difference to have that support even after you leave your inpatient or outpatient program. Learning about alcoholism will also help you understand the disease and what causes it. Being able to look at it from a clear perspective during treatment will help you cope with it post-rehab.
From Alcoholism to Recovery
Identifying your alcoholism is the first step in recovery. Don’t feel compelled to compare your level of alcohol use with someone else’s because alcoholism is based on your body’s reaction to it and your feelings after drinking.
If you are drinking in excess, if you are experiencing symptoms of alcoholism, then although it might be tough to admit, you may be an alcoholic or at least have problems with alcohol. Remember there’s no one way that alcoholism looks. Don’t feel like you have to be categorized under a stereotype. The important thing is that you get help you need to treat your addiction.
If you are a family member or friend concerned about a loved one’s alcohol problem or use, we have intervention services to help. Our interventionist program can help you come up with a strategy to talk with your loved one about their addiction. It can be a difficult conversation to have and often doesn’t involve a black-and-white situation. It comes down to how you are going to help your loved one. What you’re going to do if he or she denies the help? It’s also important to get as much information as possible to make the right kind of decisions and know how best to communicate your concerns. We make the assessment process as easy as possible, so that when your loved one is ready to accept treatment, we are ready, too.
We are focused on the health and healing for anyone who is suffering from drug or alcohol addiction. We believe everyone deserves a safe space where they can feel comfortable going through their recovery and learn what they need to know to take control of their health and future. At Above It All, our focus is on providing all the necessities to help you through the different stages of recovery, in an environment where you can feel safe and comfortable.
The goal of our recovery program is to help you achieve long lasting sobriety. We want to equip and empower you with what you need to maintain your sobriety after you leave our treatment facility. We are available around-the-clock to discuss alcohol addiction treatment options with you. Let us know how we can help with your recovery.Find hope. Find recovery from substance abuse. Begin a commitment to lifelong recovery today – for yourself, your friend, or for your loved one.
Alcohol.org. Am I An Alcoholic? Accessed March 25, 2016.
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Defendence. Am I Alcoholic Self Test. accessed March 25, 2016.