Signs of Alcoholism: How to Spot the Illness

Alcoholism is an illness that affects many people around the UK and indeed, across the world, but it is an illness that many individuals are unaware they have. The reason for this is that it can be difficult to recognise the signs of alcoholism, especially for those who have been a regular drinker for a long time.

Unfortunately, alcohol is not seen as a harmful substance by a lot of people, and this is due to the fact that it is legally available and, for the most part, encouraged in modern society. Many events and activities are centred around alcohol, and it is a major feature in celebrations. It is also something that forms the basis of gifts for special events such as birthdays, anniversaries and engagements. A bottle of champagne is often presented to people when they are celebrating, so it is no surprise that most individuals do not comprehend the fact that alcohol can be dangerous to health.

Health Warnings

In recent times, there have been a number of warnings about the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption. In fact, the UK Government ordered a review of the recommended alcohol guidelines to be carried out by Public Health England in 2015. On the back of that review, the weekly alcohol guideline amount for men was reduced from 21 units per week to 14 in January 2016. However, recent studies suggest that many men are still drinking more than the previously recommended units of 21 per week, with some drinking that amount in one drinking session. This is sparking serious concerns about the health of British people.

Are You an Alcoholic?

It may seem to you that others are constantly harping on at you about the amount of alcohol that you drink. In your mind, they are overreacting or exaggerating the problem, but if your friends or loved ones are concerned, it might be time to evaluate your drinking habits. You may think that you do not have a problem because you know for a fact that you do not drink as much as your friend down the pub. Or maybe you are convinced that you couldn’t possibly be an alcoholic because you do not drink every day, you do not drink as soon as you wake up, and you still go to work.

If you have a picture in your mind of what an alcoholic is and, based on this, you do not fit that profile, then it may be easy to assume you do not have a problem. Still, it is worth noting that most people’s perceptions of what an alcoholic is are not accurate. Below are a few of the signs of alcoholism that you need to think about in relation to whether you have a problem or not.

  • Drinking regularly and getting drunk each time you drink
  • Drinking more than you planned to or drinking when you had planned not to
  • Taking unnecessary risks while under the influence of alcohol (i.e. driving or operating machinery)
  • Making sure that there will be alcohol present at any activity you plan – otherwise, you are not interested
  • Being unable to stop drinking once you have started
  • Forgetting what you have done while under the influence of alcohol or waking up with no memory of large portions of the night before
  • Neglecting responsibilities at home or work because of drinking
  • Continuing to drink alcohol even though it is causing negative consequences in your life
  • Drinking alcohol to make you feel better or more confident, believing that alcohol will help to relax you if you have had a tough day at work or had an argument with your partner
  • Needing more alcohol than before to experience the desired effects; this is a sign of tolerance
  • Suffering withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, nausea, vomiting, trembling, sweating, headaches and mood swings when you are not drinking.

The above are just some of the signs of alcohol abuse and addiction. Those who abuse alcohol may not necessarily be addicted, but one of the clearest signs of alcoholism is a lack of control. Those who find that they have no control over their ability to say no to alcohol have a serious problem and need help. It is often the case that those affected by alcoholism will drink more than they plan to. They may want to stop drinking but are unable to because of the cravings.

When alcohol becomes a really serious problem in a person’s life, it takes over to the point where it replaces other activities. People affected by alcoholism may spend less time on hobbies or activities that they once enjoyed in favour of drinking.

Spotting the Signs of Alcoholism in a Loved One

It is hard to spot the signs of alcoholism in yourself, but your loved ones will undoubtedly know there is a problem. It is usually the case that a friend or relative will notice that a problem exists long before the person with the illness does. This is often because those with alcoholism are in denial.

If you are worried about a friend or loved one’s drinking habits, there are some signs to look out for:

  • The individual is neglecting spending time with the family unless there will be alcohol
  • The individual has been in trouble with the police more than once for drunken behaviour
  • The individual becomes irritable when not drinking
  • The individual regularly promises not to drink but repeatedly breaks these promises
  • The individual has said that alcohol makes him or her feel better
  • The individual becomes aggressive or defensive at the mention that alcohol could be a problem.

Help for Alcoholism

It is important to tackle the issue of alcoholism as soon as possible as this is a progressive illness that can have a major detrimental effect on physical and mental health as well as lifestyle and general well-being.

If you have a problem with alcohol, or you know someone who does, contact us here at Recovery.org.uk immediately. Early intervention is the best way to overcome alcoholism. Nonetheless no matter how severe the problem is, it is possible to get sober and stay sober, with the right help and support.

 
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