Society today seems to be on a fast track to nowhere if you look at the shocking number of alcoholics, drug addicts, thousands of innocent victims of these addicts, and millions of needless deaths that result from these addictions. Obviously, we have a serious epidemic on our hands, especially with alcohol, since it remains as the number one drug of choice, nationwide. Currently, in the US, over 14 million people abuse alcohol. One thing we can do to help lower this number is to be aware of the alcoholism symptoms in order to recognize whether someone has crossed the line between social drinking and alcoholism and help them get treatment before it’s too late.
Each alcoholic has their own relationship with alcohol with their own unique set of routines and behaviors when drinking, but there are many symptoms of alcoholism that are common with all, such as:
- Needs a drink to relax or to cope with stress
- Can’t stop with just one or two drinks
- Makes excuses for the drinking
- Lies about how much they have had to drink
- Gets annoyed or angry when confronted about the drinking
- Plans ahead to be sure alcohol is available
- Misses school or work, ignores responsibilities
- Weight changes, poor hygiene, declining health
- Financial problems, always needing to borrow money
- Isolation, ignoring friends and family
- Lack of interest in activities they once enjoyed
- Moodiness, nervousness, violent outbursts
- Taking a drink first thing in the morning to stop the shakes
There are many other signs and symptoms of alcoholism to watch for, but the important thing to know is that most alcoholics will deny that they have lost control of their drinking habits because they aren’t seeing things through sober eyes the way you are. It might be necessary to involve a professional interventionist to help get your loved one into a treatment program before things get worse.
Letting Go of the Alcoholism Willpower Stigma
The average non-drinking person believes that an alcoholic could stop drinking if they really wanted to. They see alcoholism as a moral weakness or character flaw, and have no sympathy for the person’s suffering. In their opinion, the person deserves what they get. Fortunately, this stigma is losing credibility now that more scientific studies have proven alcoholism to be a disease that requires professional medical treatment.
Understanding the way alcohol affects the brain and body could help skeptics let go of the stigma about alcoholics, and they might eventually develop a little compassion and actually try to help someone get into treatment. The skeptics need to be aware of the many scientific studies that prove alcoholism is not simply a matter of willpower. One specific study conducted in a joint effort by two well known agencies determined the following:
According to NCADD (the National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc.) and ASAM (American Society of Addiction Medicine), alcoholism is defined as:
Alcoholism is a primary chronic disease with genetic, psycho social and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterized by impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking, mostly denial. Each of these symptoms may be continuous or periodic.
Some of the alcoholism symptoms that take place within the person’s mind and body can be reversed if treated in time, but far too often, some of the damage is permanent. Alcohol contains dangerous chemicals that interfere with communication pathways in the brain and this can affect mood and behavior or make it difficult to maintain coordination or to think clearly.
The effects on the brain and body differ depending on age, physical health, gender and the person’s drinking habits, however, most alcoholics are at risk for damage to major organs such as:
- Heart – prolonged drinking or binge drinking can cause damage to heart muscles, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, stroke.
- Pancreas – alcohol causes it to produce toxic substances that lead to pancreatitis, with swelling and inflammation that prevents proper digestion.
- Liver – alcohol causes fatty liver, hepatitis, cirrhosis, and fibrosis of the liver.
- Immune System – alcohol weakens the body’s defense mechanisms causing vulnerability to a variety of diseases and conditions.
Consuming large amounts of alcohol on a regular basis can also increase the risk of certain cancers of the mouth, throat, liver, breast or esophagus.
Most alcoholics are under the impression that they are only hurting themselves, especially if they haven’t yet reached the point of losing their job or home or family. But, the truth is, one single alcoholic can affect hundreds of people without ever coming in contact with them. How is this possible? Some of the following facts make it clear that alcoholism has far-reaching effects:
- Alcohol is responsible for more than 17,000 deaths by vehicle in the US
- Costs for treating alcoholism have surpassed costs for treating cancer
- Half of all murders and domestic violence cases involve alcohol
- One-third of all suicides involve alcohol
- One-quarter of ER visits and hospital admissions are the result of alcohol-related problems
- More than a million children are affected by their parents’ alcoholism
A person’s alcoholism creates problems for family members, neighbors, employers, law enforcement, taxpayers, and all the other innocent people who get robbed, beaten, or killed as a direct or indirect result of alcohol.
Making Promises You Can’t Keep
Are you beginning to worry about your relationship with alcohol? Hopefully, you have realized that the alcoholism symptoms you experience are your body’s way of telling you it’s time to take action. Maybe you have promised yourself to slow down or quit, but that only lasts a short time before the cravings begin and you are right back where you started. Or, maybe you thought you could try a different type of alcohol that you could control better, but that didn’t work either.
The best option at this point is to seek professional treatment now. In a residential facility, you no longer face temptations and environmental issues that contribute to your desire for alcohol. A team of addiction specialists and staff members are well-trained in providing the perfect balance of support, guidance, education and training to help you regain self-respect and develop skills and confidence that will empower you to function in the real world without the need for alcohol’s numbing effects.
To learn more about alcoholism symptoms and how we can help you make a promise to yourself that you can keep, call now. One of our representatives can answer all your questions and recommend a treatment program suited for your specific needs.