Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism

What are the signs that you or a loved one is an alcoholic?

Many people globally are fond of taking alcohol during leisure. Some are regular consumers while others take it once in a while. Prolonged consumption of alcohol often results in alcoholism. Keep on reading to learn about common signs and symptoms of alcoholism.

Alcohol normally alters a person's receptors hence enabling them to relax. Some families usually serve alcohol in various occasions including dinner parties. Generally, alcohol is a social drink that enables people from different ethnic and social backgrounds to interact freely with one another.

Some people take alcoholic drinks while at home especially after having a long day. They are normally eager to have their usual night cocktail. It makes them feel complete. Regular alcohol consumers often claim that once you take alcohol at night, you often have a brilliant morning.

Alcohol consumption is common in most places. Nevertheless, it can easily turn into an addiction. One might start with a casual drink after dinner but with time, they end up taking up to eight drinks a night. Alcohol abuse often leads to alcoholism. It’s tricky controlling one's intake if you don't understand what alcohol abuse entails.

What is a Drink?

You can get a variety of articles and journals which focus on alcohol abuse and the types of safe drinks which you can take at a particular period. Such information is normally helpful when you understand the precise definition of one drink. Some bars often serve two alcoholic drinks in a single glass. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, one drink is one containing 0.6 ounces of ethanol, 8 ounces of liquor, 5 ounces of wine and 1.5 ounces of spirits.


Since alcohol intake is common among many adults, at times it's tricky to distinguish between ordinary consumption of alcohol and alcoholism. Unlike drug abuse, many societies accept the consumption of alcohol.

Signs of Alcoholism

  • Consuming more than five drinks a day for men and four drinks for women.

  • Lack of guilt about one's intake level.

  • Excessive consumption of alcohol.

  • Numerous complaints from your family and friends about your alcohol consumption.

Often, such signs focus on compulsive alcohol intake and what you think about it. They are useful in defining alcohol abuse. Most people who are addicted to alcohol normally describe the habit as being compulsive. They claim that it's vital for them to take a drink after a certain period. With time, they are unable to regulate their addiction despite making numerous attempts.

CAGE Questionnaire

Qualified doctors run several laboratory tests to determine a patient's alcohol consumption and its effect on them. The American Journal of Medicine published a study which revealed that the lab tests aren't efficient in diagnosing alcohol abuse. Instead, it's wise to use the CAGE Questionnaire. It addresses several issues such as an individual's attempts at reducing their alcohol intake, their reaction when other people talk about their addiction and the main reason why they consume alcohol.

Alcohol Abuse among Teenagers

In most states, there are laws on alcohol use which restricts its sale to teenagers. However, some retailers violate them and sell the drinks to children as young as twelve years. Some irresponsible parents introduce their children to alcohol hoping that they won't be lured into taking narcotics such as cocaine and heroin.

However, they don't control the amount of alcohol that a child takes. It often results in alcoholism. A report in the Journal of  Substance  Abuse reveals that about 11% of American teenagers start taking alcohol when they are 16 years old. It develops into alcohol abuse after some time. Also, only 4% of people who start taking alcohol while in their twenties are usually addicted to it, therefore, it's essential to avoid providing teenagers with an alcoholic drink.

Effects of Alcoholism

In most instances, it's hard to ascertain whether one is addicted to alcohol if most of their friends are heavy drinkers. Since it's easy to meet with drunkards daily, you might not consider the habit as being harmful to you. You may start taking it seriously after seeing its adverse effects on other people.

Here are some common effects of prolonged consumption of alcohol;

  • Failure to meet personal obligations at school or at work.

  • Causing an accident after driving a vehicle or operating a machine while drunk.

  • Assaulting people due to intoxication.

  • Being charged with driving under the influence (DUI).

  • Breakups in relationships.

Many people who have experienced any of these effects of alcoholism before need urgent help to address the problem. It's advisable to cut back one's alcohol intake and avoiding spending too much time with alcohol addicts.

Binge Drinking

Binge drinking refers to taking alcohol to get intoxicated after consuming large amounts of alcohol within a short duration. It's a popular drinking style in certain countries. Often, people do it in large groups. However, different communities have varying intoxication levels. A typical binge occurs within several hours and it can last for several days or weeks. Since it has long-term alcohol abuse effects, it's a major threat to public health.

Often, the habit is associated with young male adults. Intensive binge drinking significantly affects your cardiac, immune, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal and neurologic systems. Also, it increases the likelihood of psychiatric disorders. A recent research in the U.S reveals that about 30% of adolescents normally binge-drink. Of these, about 5% experience an alcohol-related disorder.

Binge drinking during pregnancy results in fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and fetal alcohol syndrome. Binge drinking among teenagers causes tragic road accidents and suicides. Most of them combine binge-drinking with taking various psychotropic substances.

Health Effects of Binge Drinking

Binge drinking leads to increased incidences of unplanned and unprotected sex which makes many people susceptible to HIV infection. About 10% of women and 19% of men have been assaulted in their lifetime due to alcohol intoxication. Many men who normally consume about 35 units of alcohol on a weekly basis normally get assaulted physically with 15 % of them hurting other people. In addition, 16% of binge drinkers are usually assaulted sexually while 8% of them sexually harass other people.

An American college recently conducted a study to determine the effect of prolonging binge drinking on a person's cardiovascular system. The researchers discovered that alterations in a person's macro and microcirculation functions are a major risk of cardiovascular diseases. It's critical to regularly screen regular binge drinkers.

Binge drinking causes significant brain damage. It results in severe neurotoxic effects due to its alcohol rebounds. During the free stages, your body produces large amounts of glutamate leading to excitotoxicity.

Furthermore, it impairs the frontal lobes of female drinkers, therefore, reducing their impulse control. Besides, heavy binge drinking results in neurodegeneration in a person's corticolimbic brain parts including the entorhinal cortex, olfactory bulb, perirhinal cortex and piriform cortex. They help in learning and increasing your spatial memory.

Many binge drinkers normally experience blackouts. They are a result of the suppressed hippocampus with a combination of glutamate activity and excessive production of glucocorticoid. Repeated intoxication and acute abstinence induce its release.

Diagnosis of Binge Drinking

When assessing an individual's binge drinking habit, it's crucial to study it for about six months to avoid making erroneous conclusions. Often, assessing a binge drinker for two weeks causes a 30% probability of classifying them wrongly.


Several American programs have devised unique methods of preventing binge drinking. For instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages raising the price of alcohol and restricting the number of stores receiving liquor licenses. Also, there are several counseling approaches including cognitive behavioral and motivational interviewing approaches to address heavy drinking in colleges.

How to Cut Back on Alcoholism

Many alcohol addicts are unable to get over the addiction on their own. Often, they end up using it compulsively. Enrolling in an alcohol rehabilitation program helps one to lead a healthy lifestyle. If you are an occasional consumer of alcohol, you can curb your consumption by reducing your intake. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) offers the following tips on how to overcome alcoholism;

  • Sip your drink at intervals. During breaks, you can take juice or water.

  • Avoid drinking for a day or two per week.

  • Avoid keeping alcohol in your house.

  • Don't drink alcohol when you are upset or exhausted.

At times, you may have to keep written records of your alcohol intake. Also, you may have to note all possible reasons why you need to control your consumption. It's wise to decide on the amount of alcohol you need to take on a weekly basis.

The NIAAA recommends women to take only one drink a day while men require only two drinks a day. However, people with special medical conditions may not reach such consumption limits. Alternatively, you can seek help from a certified addiction counselor to overcome your addiction. You can have several counseling sessions that are one-hour long. 

If you are suffering from alcoholism, it's vital to visit a therapist on enrolling in a treatment program. There are different private residential and outpatient rehabilitation centers that address alcohol addiction. Besides, they offer a variety of payment options.