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Alcohol Symptoms

Alcoholism is a common problem. It affects people of all races and social and economic classes, the young and the old, and both men and women. It is different from alcohol abuse, which is a pattern of drinking that also causes problems but does not involve an intense craving for alcohol and a loss of control over its use. Alcoholism is not defined by how much or how often a person drinks, but by the uncontrollable need for alcohol.

Early symptoms of alcoholism often go unnoticed, even by relatives and close friends. A person may start by drinking too much at social occasions or drinking to reduce anxiety and boost self-confidence. Later, the person may feel the need to drink, even when alone, to feel "normal." Alcoholism is associated with denial; the person believes that he/she is control of the situation. The recognition of the problem is the first step to the treatment therefore understanding and accepting the symptoms are crucial.

Dependency on alcohol or other drugs is detrimental to one's health, family, relationships and career. While best assessed by a professional, some of the most common indicators include:

  • abdominal pain
  • vomiting
  • depression
  • work-related difficulties
  • swelling of the liver
  • hangovers
  • physiological disorders
  • increased tolerance
  • numbness in the arms or legs
  • decreased problem-solving skills
  • blackouts, not remembering drinking episodes
  • excessive aggression
  • nausea
  • red eyes, puffy face
  • guilt
  • negative relationship with children
  • negative relationship with spouse
  • negative relationship with parents
  • continued use despite physical problems
  • violence
  • shame
  • financial stress
  • DUI arrest and other legal troubles
  • drinking alone
  • denying drinking/using
  • experiencing memory impairment
  • feeling fatiqued and/or depressed
  • drinking in response to stress
  • impairing personal relationships
  • becoming "edgy" without drinking/using
  • missing work
  • drinking daily
  • needing progressively more alcohol/drugs
  • drinking in the morning
  • personality changes
  • impaired professional success
  • deteriorating health