How to Identify Chronic Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder
Do you or someone you know have a drinking problem? AUD (Alcohol use disorder) can lead to failed relationships, costly lawsuits, DUI convictions, etc. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 3.3 million people die every year from some kind of alcohol-related cause. Alcohol can also contribute to poor performance at school, family problems, injuries, violence, and the transmission of STDs.
So, how can you tell if somebody has a problem? Understand that alcohol use disorder is defined by Mayo Clinic as a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling your drinking. Here are some of the most common signs to watch out for alcoholism or alcohol abuse.
Look for Chronic Symptoms
- Drinking alone or in secrecy. Although drinking alone is not always a problem (for example, having a glass of wine with a meal), hiding your drinking is. Also, people who are drinking alone are more likely to be “self-medicating” for a mental health problem, which can lead to addiction.
- Making excuses for your drinking, explaining it away as “I need to relax.” If you need to drink to feel normal, you are probably addicted.
- Blackouts or short-term memory loss as a result of drinking. If you are drinking enough that you don’t remember it, and this happens regularly, you are drinking too much.
- Persistent hangovers that clear up only when you have another drink. This is a sign of physical addiction to alcohol.
- Irritability and mood swings. Getting irritated and defensive if somebody brings up how much you drink is a key symptom of abuse.
- Claiming or believing you function better in some way when you have had something to drink.
- Feeling bad or guilty about the amount you drink.
- Dealing with hangovers with a “hair of the dog” first thing in the morning.
- Having problems with relationships, or changing friend groups to hide the amount you are drinking.
- Drinking in preference to activities you once enjoyed—thinking so much about drinking it interferes with your function.
- Regularly drinking more than you intended.
- Needing to drink more to get the same effect.
- Experiencing symptoms of alcohol withdrawal such as tremors, sweating, nausea, or insomnia.
- Commonly binge drinking—five or more drinks in two hours for men or four or more for women.
- Letting your drinking interfere with work, relationships, or school.
- Getting into dangerous situations while or after drinking, such as driving drunk or having unprotected sex.
If you are observing any of these signs in a loved one then they may be struggling with alcoholism or alcohol abuse. Not all people with a drinking problem are actual alcoholics, but everyone with a problem needs help. Alcohol abuse treatment varies, depending on whether the problem has become chronic, and recovery can take some time.
Encourage Treatment and Recovery
Fortunately, recovery is possible. About one-third of patients recover completely, and the rest are able to reduce their problems. There are a number of solutions, here are options for treatment (that can be used separately or together) from the NIAAA:
- Counseling: The first line of defense is often an alcohol abuse counselor. The point is to help you change your behavior.
- Medication: There are three medications that are currently approved to help treat alcohol abuse.
- Disulfiram causes you to become sick when you drink alcohol (but which can have compliance problems).
- Naltrexone makes drinking less pleasurable and can help ward off cravings.
- Acamprosate eases withdrawal symptoms.
- Support Groups: Alcoholics Anonymous is the most well-known of these. There are a number of other groups that follow a similar 12-step program. Studies show that other groups such as Women for Sobriety and SMART Recovery are just as effective.
Treating alcohol abuse before it ruins your life or somebody else’s is key. However, many people do not realize they have a problem until they end up with a DUI, massive legal fees, problems with their marriage, or other life-changing incidents.
People with a history of alcohol abuse may be more likely to drink and drive. If you have been charged of driving under the influence and need to install an ignition interlock device, contact RoadGuard Interlock.
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