Are You an Addict? Learn the Symptoms of Long Term Alcohol Abuse
The CDC defines heavy drinking as 15 drinks or more per week for men and 8 drinks or more per week for women. While these numbers are clear enough to define patterns of alcohol abuse, understanding if someone is an alcoholic takes more consideration. Alcohol abuse is simply a pattern of drinking; it may only be repeated once or could be a frequent occurrence. Alcoholism, on the other hand, is a chronic disease in which a person regularly abuses alcohol. Because many people don’t understand the difference, it is important to learn the symptoms of long term alcohol abuse so you can find the treatment that is right for you.
Increased Alcohol Tolerance
For most people, having only a couple of drinks will induce a buzz. However, an alcoholic might not notice any effects after only a few drinks. This is because their alcohol tolerance drastically increases through the years, meaning they need to drink more to achieve the same effect.
There are a number of different reasons for this increased tolerance. The main reason is because the brain slowly begins to adapt and compensate for having alcohol in the bloodstream. This results in a person being able to feel sober even when they have a high blood alcohol level.
If you find yourself needing to increase the amount you drink to get the same buzz, chances are that you are altering the way your brain and bodily functions work.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Many alcoholics can’t even go a day without having a drink. Without a constant stream of alcohol in their blood, they may begin to feel shaky or anxious. These effects are known as alcohol withdrawal. This happens because your body has become physically addicted to having alcohol, and without it, your body doesn’t function correctly.
Other noticeable symptoms can include problems sleeping, depression, not feeling hungry, headaches, being tired, sweating, or nausea and vomiting. More serious effects can include seizures, fever, hallucinations, or confusion in severe cases. To curb these effects, a person going through withdrawal will also have a strong craving for a drink.
Question Your Drinking Habits
Because over seven percent of the population is suffering from an alcohol use disorder at any given moment, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has established a Diagnostics and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to help diagnose alcoholism. The guide includes 11 criteria for which a person can qualify. Meeting only two of the requirements during a 12 month period means a person has an alcohol use disorder. Ask yourself the following questions to see how many are true for you:
- Have you ever drunk more alcohol than you wanted to at a given time?
- Have you ever tried to stop drinking, but found yourself unable to because it was too hard?
- Do you spend a lot of time drinking or being sick from drinking?
- Have you ever had a craving for a drink?
- Has drinking or being sick from drinking ever interfered with your work or school?
- Has drinking ever caused problems with your family or friends?
- Have you ever cut back on pleasurable activities in order to drink?
- Have you ever done something after drinking that could have been dangerous?
- Do you keep drinking despite it making you feel depressed or anxious?
- Do you have to drink more than before to get the same buzz?
- Have you ever experienced withdrawal symptoms?
The more questions you answered yes to, the bigger your alcohol problem may be.
Once you’ve established and admitted to yourself that you’re suffering from the symptoms of long term alcohol abuse, it is much easier to find treatment. Keep in mind that alcoholism is a medical disease, so it’s not something you can battle on your own. Help is available at 800-481-6965 (Who Answers?)