Alcoholism symptoms serve as a wake up call to the alcoholic to recognize the destructive effects that alcohol is having on their life, body and mind, that if ignored, have dire consequences. The longer one continues down the road of drinking, the more damage that is done. The sooner you recognize the symptoms, the sooner you can take the necessary steps to help yourself.
Behavioral, Emotional and Social Symptoms of Alcoholism
There are a number social, emotional and behavioral
symptoms that can be significant indicators that the individual is
battling addiction with alcohol. As a matter of fact the symptoms of
alcoholism will be most identifiable in the emotional, social and
behavioral aspect before many physical symptoms are observed or noticed.
By the time physical symptoms occur, alcoholism has already progressed
significantly, so it is crucial to pay attention to the many ways in
which the condition manifests itself.
- Excessive consumption of alcohol is one of the most predominant
symptoms of alcoholism. Alcohol becomes integrated into all areas of
- Ritualizing the consumption of alcohol. The
drinking ritual is often associated with lunch or dinner time, and there
can be significant stress when the person is unable to drink at those
- Time Spent with Alcohol Related Activities. The
affected individual will spend an increasing amount of time pursuing
activities that allow them to consume, acquire, or recover from alcohol.
- Deception. The individual may develop a system
of alibis or excuses for their drinking, or the effects of their
drinking. The individual may also lie to avoid their family or friends,
in order to spend more time drinking.
- Neglecting Other Activities. As a corollary to
the preceding symptoms, the individual will give up or scale back their
other social activities, job-related obligations, and prior hobbies or
recreational pursuits, in order to maintain their alcohol use.
- Associated Family Issues. Alcoholism symptoms
are often exhibited in continuous conflict in relationships, divorce,
spousal or child abuse, child neglect and dependence on social services
or welfare as income begins to deteriorate.
- Denial, blaming and excuses. An alcoholic is
notorious for making excuses to drink, blaming others for the reason
they drink and denying that their drinking is causing any problems in
- Inability to control drinking. Drinking that
continues even when it is apparent that their are serious consequences
to their health, family, employment or social status. An inability to
stop drinking even when they have a desire to do so is one of the most
clear cut alcoholism symptoms.
- Continuous problems at work, school, or home that
are a direct result of their drinking. Others are complaining about
their behavior. They are neglecting their duties and responsibilities
or not performing them up to par.
- Engaging in risky behavior that put their own or
their families physical safety in danger such as driving under the
influence or operating machinery.
- Recurring problems with the law like driving under the influence, domestic violence, bar fights and even criminal behavior.
- Frequently missing work or drinking on the job.
As alcoholism progresses the alcoholic needs to drink in the morning to
relieve the shakes and may not be able to get through the day without
sneaking a couple at lunch or on breaks. This behavior may lead to
discipline by the employer or even result in getting them fired.
- Changes in emotional stability. Alcoholism is
accompanied by frequent bouts of depression, anxiety, irritability and
unexplained mood swings. They may vacillate from being docile, easy
going and loving to being angry, confrontative and aggressive. They
often feel annoyed when they are questioned or criticized about their
drinking and respond with personal attacks. They may also experience
paranoia, fears without basis, hallucinations, paranoid delusions and
- Drinking to deal with feelings. The alcoholic is
uncomfortable with feelings and will increasingly use alcohol to deal
with stress, sadness, grief, anger, loss etc.
- As alcoholism progresses they begin to neglect
their physical appearance, hide alcohol in unusual places, to prevent
criticism and questions from others, so they can sneak a drink whenever
they want. They are often drinking alone and must drink first thing in
the morning to counteract the effects of a hangover.
Physical Alcoholism Symptoms
physical symptoms of alcoholism
are extensive and gone into more thorough detail on their own page, but some of the most common include:
- A very strong urge to drink alcohol. These cravings
are sometimes overwhelming, and often manifest themselves as an urge to
drink at a specific time of day, or the morning after a night of
- Memory loss, forgetting what happened during episodes of drinking, also known as blackouts.
- High levels of anxiety and irritability.
- Liver inflammation or disease,
- High blood pressure
- Elevated tolerance. A person directly affected
by alcoholism will be forced to drink increasing amounts over time, just
to get the same “buzz” or “high” feelings they were previously able to
achieve with less alcohol. As a corollary, this person may be able to
drink increasing amounts without exhibiting any signs of intoxication.
- A person affected by alcoholism may experience
abdominal pain, nausea, numbness in their extremities, vomiting, red
eyes, puffy face and spider veins.
- Withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms show up
if the individual stops or attempts to stop drinking for any period of
time. These alcoholism symptoms often include nausea, jitters or shakes
and feelings of anxiousness.
In addition, it is important to note that some types of symptoms differ
depending on the stage of alcoholism that the individual is affected by.
For example, in the early stages of alcoholism, the symptoms may
include an increasing physical tolerance to alcohol, more frequent
drinking, and seeking out a greater number of drinking opportunities.
In the middle stages of progressive alcoholism, symptoms can
include: frequent hangovers; attempts to stop drinking that are not
successful and/or not attempted with a great deal of effort; blackouts
that occur with increasing frequency; and further increases in the
individual’s tolerance to alcohol.
While in the most advanced stages of the
disease, the symptoms can include hallucinations, pancreatitis, extended
periods of sustained alcohol consumption (“benders”), and a complete
loss of tolerance for alcohol.
Identifying the Symptoms of Alcoholism
Being able to identify the symptoms of alcoholism is the first
step for understanding the impact it has on your life and motivating
you to do something about it.
End stage alcoholism often ends in death
either from cancer, liver disease, heart disease, suicide, malnutrition
or accident. If you ignore the messages your body is
giving you, then this is the possibility you are facing.
If you are ready to stop drinking now, you can use my self-help program, which has helped me achieve more than 25 years of craving-free and uninterrupted sobriety, and turn this boat around before it's too late.