Alcohol abuse comes in various forms, but the most severe one is alcoholism. This is regarded as a disorder, where an individual can no longer manage their drinking habits. It’s also known as alcohol use disorder, which can further be categorized into three categories—mild, moderate, and severe.
Each of these categories pertains to specific symptoms, all of which can lead to serious health conditions. Left untreated, alcoholism can spiral out of control, leading to altered mental states and even poisoning. Unfortunately, doing so is easier said than done. The disorder is mostly driven by pleasure, which has a distinct signature. It essentially releases the neurotransmitter called dopamine, which registers alcohol as a good source of happiness.
It’s also important to note that all drugs are capable of influencing the brain this way, especially since the dopamine involved in substance abuse can produce an even stronger positive feeling.
As a result, every individual who suffers from alcohol use disorder feels and believes that they cannot function normally without drinking. Too much alcohol, however, ends up damaging their professional careers, personal connections, and overall health. Over time, the effects can worsen.
If you or a loved one is suffering from early signs of alcoholism, we’ve created this quick and simple guide for you. Known the signs of alcoholism, as well as the various ways you can help overcome the disorder:
Signs of Alcoholism
A lot of people enjoy having a few drinks every now and then—perhaps to take the edge off a hectic work week or to just enjoy the buzz that comes with drinking alcohol. However, there is a thin line between recreational drinking and alcohol abuse.
Alcohol abuse, while sometimes hiding under the guise of recreational drinking, is a very real problem that often goes unnoticed and can worsen over time. It can affect many aspects of an individual’s life, such as their work, health, and social life.
When it comes to alcohol abuse, there are many indicators, and the signs can vary per individual. The signs that a person shows also may be dependent on the severity of alcohol abuse. There are some signs of alcohol abuse that are readily apparent, while others take a more covert form that may not be easily recognizable. For instance, a person may not appear to have alcoholic tendencies because they may isolate themselves and actively attempt to hide their drinking habits.
Looking out for signs of alcohol abuse can prove to be challenging for friends and family members who want to help the individual, especially because some signs are easily overlooked. However, it’s best to be on the lookout for these signs even if they seem mild. Seeking professional help as early as possible can prevent problems from worsening over time. Here are some of the signs of alcohol abuse that one should look out for:
- Social isolation or avoiding loved ones
- Needing increased amounts of alcohol or drinking it too often
- Alcohol dependence
- High alcohol tolerance
- Drinking alcohol at inappropriate times
- Hiding their drinking
- Unusual changes in friendship; choosing friends who also drink heavily
- Emotional issues, depression, lethargy
- Wanting to be in occasions where alcohol is involved; avoiding occasions without alcohol
- Problems with their jobs or the law
It’s important to notice any unusual behavioral changes while it’s early. Early treatment can prevent things from escalating further and resulting in more serious consequences. If you’re worried that a person is exhibiting signs of alcohol abuse, you may reach out in a supportive manner. It’s best to avoid placing additional guilt or shame on them because this may just aggravate the situation and make them avoid getting help.
How do you approach someone suffering from alcohol use disorder?
Step 1: Educate yourself
Know what you can about the condition
Before anything else, it’s important to equip yourself with proper knowledge. A supposed drinking problem is a far cry from actual alcohol use disorder. It isn’t just drinking from time to time as a form of social habit, nor is it a coping mechanism.
People who suffer from the disorder never drink in moderation—they simply drink with reckless abandon. That said, it’s also important to remember that the condition shouldn’t simply just be thrown around like a label—it’s a serious health condition, one that needs an equally serious intervention.
Step 2: Approach and listen with honesty and compassion
If you have noticed that a person has an alcohol problem, it’s best to approach them about it and be honest about your concerns. Let them know that you want to support them with what they are going through.
When confronting them about their alcohol issues, they may react negatively and deny your attempts to help them. If they do react negatively, understand that they are coming from a troubled position. Do not take their reactions personally—instead, give them space and listen to their concerns with empathy and compassion.
Step 3: Offer a solid support system
You may have approached your loved one in the most proper way possible, but keep in mind that you should never force anyone into getting treatment. All you can ever do is offer help, and it’s up to them to make the decision. The key is to remain at your best self, with the following things in mind:
You’ll want to place yourself in their shoes—everything you say must be calculated carefully. And anything they say must be met with positivity. They may end up promising to stop drinking and while a hopeful statement, keep in mind that actions trump all. If they’re willing to make a change, encourage them to join a treatment program. From there, make sure to follow their progress carefully. Accountability is key to a sustainable healing process, after all.
Seeking a Better Tomorrow—It’s Never Too Late to Break from Alcoholism
When it comes to treating alcohol use disorder, early intervention is the most effective form of cure. Long-term addiction can be even more difficult to break, but it’s also important to remember that there is always hope. However, healing isn’t always linear. Someone who has remained sober for a year may find themselves back to a bottle of alcohol, leading them to spiral once more. Relapse, however, should never be taken as a sign of failure.
Ultimately, the goal of every alcohol addiction program is to help an alcoholic control their urge to drink, as well as realize the consequences of their actions. Any destructive behaviors will be met with proper behavioral management, along with specific forms of therapies.
As their loved ones, your role is to remain as encouraging as possible, providing a strong emotional support system they can lean on whenever necessary. They should never be left to suffer from alcohol use disorder in silence, especially since it is regarded as a disease—and works just as physical conditions do.