As socially acceptable as alcohol is, its effects can ruin lives when alcohol addiction develops. Like other types of addictive substances, alcohol changes the brain and body’s systems in harmful ways. Signs of alcohol addiction develop as alcohol’s effects change how the brain and body work.
While not everyone will succumb to addiction’s effects, frequent, heavy, ongoing drinking increases your risk of falling into addiction’s trap. Signs of alcohol addiction can be easy to spot when you know what they are. Here are some signs to watch for along with some information on the effects of alcohol abuse.
The Effects of Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol abuse affects different people in different ways. While one person can drink heavily every now and then at will, another person develops a gradual dependency on alcohol’s effects with each drink he or she takes. Risk factors that impact a person’s tendency towards addiction include:
- Medical history
- A family history of alcoholism or addiction
- Your body’s tolerance to alcohol
- How often you drink
- The amount consumed at any one sitting
Alcohol acts as a depressant, meaning it slows brain and body processes. In effect, the chemicals and pathways in the brain work slower, which impacts your thinking, emotions and coordination. When consumed on a regular basis, these slowing effects begin to change how the brain and body work.
For people at risk of developing an addiction, these changes cause the brain and body to become dependent on alcohol’s effects. This means the body’s systems can’t function normally without alcohol. With continued drinking, the effects of alcohol start to alter your thinking, perceptions and how you interact with the world around you. For these reasons, signs of alcohol addiction can be physical as well as psychological.
Signs of Alcohol Addiction
It’s not uncommon for someone addicted to alcohol to be unaware that there’s a problem. Denial is also common. In other cases, a person may know something’s wrong but still do whatever it takes to hide the problem from friends and family out of shame or fear. These behaviors make it that much harder for loved ones to see the warning signs.
Physical signs of alcohol addiction develop as the body becomes increasingly dependent on alcohol’s effects. One of the very first signs to watch for is withdrawal symptoms. While withdrawal symptoms can result from a heavy bout of drinking, symptom severity worsens over time with continued drinking. Symptoms may take the form of:
- Problems sleeping
- Blackout Episodes
- Dizzy spells
- Stomach aches, nausea, diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
Another physical sign to watch for is increasing tolerance levels. As alcohol’s effects alter the brain and body’s systems, it takes larger amounts of alcohol to produce the desired intoxicating effects. At this point, it’s come for drinkers to switch from drinks with a low alcohol content, such as beer to drinks with a higher alcohol content, such as hard liquor.
In effect, if a person is susceptible to alcoholism, he or she can go from being a social drinker to a full-blown alcoholic over time. When left untreated, physical signs of alcohol addiction cause widespread damage to the body. In the most severe cases, these effects can become life-threatening.
With psychological signs of alcohol addiction, a person’s mind has become dependent on alcohol’s effects to cope with daily life. Addiction, in any form, has to do with how the mind needs alcohol and how this need affects your thinking and behaviors. In turn, this condition affects how you perceive and interact with the world around you.
When psychological signs of alcoholism develop, addiction has taken root. Signs to watch for include:
- Inability to stop drinking at will
- Taking risks you wouldn’t normally take, such as driving while intoxicated
- Neglecting daily responsibilities, such as missing work or school or neglecting family obligations
- Craving alcohol or feeling like you need to drink
- Noticeable declines in work or school performance
- Feeling guilty about drinking
- Lashing out when others criticize your drinking behavior
- Prioritizing drinking above everything else or choosing to drink in spite of the consequences
If you or someone you know struggles with alcohol abuse, the problem will only get worse with time. Since alcohol’s effects cause ongoing damage, the sooner a person gets help the easier the recovery process will be. If you have more questions or need assistance finding treatment help, call us today at 833-610-1174 to speak with one of our phone counselors.