Most people afflicted with alcoholism began their drinking by engaging in casual drinking. What started off as a social activity, however, may soon turn into an all-consuming physical and psychological addiction that may only be shaken off by attending an alcohol rehab clinic.
The line between casual drinking and full-blown addiction is often difficult to recognise and come to terms with. Also, many people who abuse alcohol resist being labelled an ‘alcoholic’ because of the stigma this often brings with it.
Addiction is classed as both a disease and a behavioural maladaptation. Often, people abuse alcohol to cover up underlying mental health problems. Because you or your loved ones are not qualified psychiatrists, it’s often difficult to conclusively diagnose alcoholism.
It’s likely if you suffer from alcoholism, you will claim you simply ‘need to cut down’. However, if you truly do suffer from alcoholism, cutting down rarely offers any form of long-term solution. Instead, you will need to embrace complete sobriety.
The initial steps to recognising alcoholism
It’s important to recognise the signs and symptoms of alcoholism. Being able to recognise these signs should serve to offer you some confidence in concluding that you do indeed suffer from this most deadly of diseases that kill around two million people globally each year.
If you do feel you suffer from alcoholism, then you will benefit from attending a residential alcohol rehab clinic. Here, you will be safely detoxed off alcohol. Medication will be given to you. This medication reduces alcohol withdrawal symptoms to manageable levels.
Alcohol consumption in the UK
The vast majority of people living in the UK will drink alcohol during the course of their lifetimes. A survey conducted by the Office of National Statistics show that 57.8% of people living in England said they drank alcohol in the previous week. Many of these people will drink responsibly and moderately, whilst others will binge on alcohol, often unaware of the risks of doing so.
Given the prevalence of alcohol consumption in the UK, it’s not surprising to learn that a fairly large number of people develop alcoholism. The challenge for many of these people is to determine when their drinking has become problematic and unmanageable. Excessive alcohol use causes many mental and physical health problems, so getting a positive diagnosis of alcohol addiction is critical.
Often, people put off seeking out this diagnosis because they believe ‘ignorance is bliss’. However, due to the many negative health consequences caused by alcoholism, putting off seeking out help could significantly shorten you or your loved one’s lifespan.
Binge drinking, alcohol dependency and alcoholism
In the UK, researchers often define ‘binge drinking’ as drinking more than 6 units of alcohol in just one session. This figure is the same for men and women. 6 units of alcohol are the equivalent of just 2-3 pints of 4% beer or 2-3 glasses of wine.
Alcohol is an extremely addictive substance. You do not need to be consuming vast amounts of alcohol in order to be considered ‘alcohol dependent’. If you consume alcohol regularly, you will have developed an alcohol dependency, even only if this is to a minor degree. This is because alcohol dependency is a spectrum disorder. However, you are generally considered a ‘heavy drinker’ if you consume more than 15 drinks per week for a man or more than 8 drinks per week for a woman.
Unfortunately, there is no set definition for ‘alcohol abuse’ and each person’s symptoms must be considered on a ‘case-by-case’ basis. However, it’s generally agreed that alcohol abuse arises when your drinking results in physical harm or damage to your responsibilities and relationships. It’s possible for alcohol abuse to arise in the absence of ‘alcohol dependency’, although it is relatively rare for one to arise without the other.
Alcoholism is an advanced form of alcohol dependency. It is at the more extreme end of the ‘spectrum’ we refer to above. Those afflicted by alcoholism will exhibit both a physical and psychological dependency on alcohol. The most obvious symptom of alcoholism is an inability to stop drinking, even when the person is well aware of the serious consequences of doing so.
What are the physical symptoms of alcoholism?
Since alcoholism is considered a form of physical dependency, it’s always easier for non-medically qualified people to notice the physical symptoms associated with alcoholism. After all, these symptoms may be observed. Because alcoholism is a progressive disorder, the symptoms of alcoholism are subtler when this disease is in its infancy.
As alcoholism is allowed to develop over time, the physical symptoms caused by this disease will become more and more visible and obvious to all who must bear witness to them.
Below, we list some of the more prevalent physical symptoms associated with alcoholism:
- Infections or skin sores
- Unexplained injuries
- Unexplained accidents
- Unexplained illnesses
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of memory
- Digestive difficulties
- Withdrawal symptoms when alcohol consumption ceases, such as seizures
Alcohol consumption gives rise to a strong tolerance for this addictive substance. This means you will need to drink greater and greater quantities of alcohol in order to produce the same result that was previously attainable with smaller quantities of alcohol.
A substantial tolerance for alcohol is a sign your alcoholism has developed over a long period of time. If people are shocked by the amount of alcohol you are able to consume, this should be a sign you need to seek out help before it is too late, since it is possible you could be developing cirrhosis of the liver.
What are the psychological symptoms of alcoholism?
Alcoholism is both a physical and psychologically addictive drug. Because of this, you will also begin to develop psychological symptoms when alcoholism has arisen.
The psychological symptoms of alcoholism include:
- Strong cravings for alcohol
- Shame and guilt about your drinking
- Hiding your alcohol from others
- A desire to drink alcohol in the morning
If you recognise the above symptoms, then it is probably time to seek out help. You can begin this process by contacting our free helpline on 0800 140 4690. We shall assist you in selecting a suitable alcohol rehab clinic in your local area.
It’s likely you will need to undergo a full medical alcohol detox supervised by medical professionals. This helps to prevent you from suffering from potential life-threatening alcohol withdrawal symptoms such as delirium tremens.
Social problems that validate the need for alcohol rehab
Alcoholism affects almost all aspects of your life. This includes negatively impacting your family life, your career as well as your physical health. When you are addicted to alcohol, it’s likely your social and professional existence will take a significant turn for the worse. It’s not uncommon for those affected by alcoholism to lose everything, including their career, their family and their sanity.
If you feel your social and professional life is being eroded by your drinking, then it’s probably a good idea to enter an alcohol rehab clinic before it is too late. It is not reasonable to accept this state-of-affairs. It is certainly not acceptable to expect your loved ones to sit idly by as you slowly but surely allow your alcoholism to destroy all that you have built up over the course of your lifetime.
Booking into alcohol rehab now
Below, we list a number of further resources that should serve you in your search for suitable alcohol addiction treatment:
- Conducting an alcohol intervention
- Access private alcohol rehab clinics
- Locate statutory funded/NHS alcohol addiction services
- Attend a local Alcoholics Anonymous meeting