Table of Contents
Signs of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)
To determine whether you are an alcoholic, there are several factors and symptoms to consider. Typically, being unable to stop the consumption of alcohol is a clear sign of alcoholism. However, alcohol addiction signs may not always be obvious, so looking out for the symptoms is crucial to determine if you or someone close to you is struggling with alcoholism.
The signs of alcohol use disorder can vary from person to person, but several factors can help one pinpoint whether they are dealing with this disorder. Alcohol use disorder is often identified by seeing if a person has moderate to severe issues with binge drinking or alcohol abuse.1
Binge drinking involves the excessive consumption of alcohol within a short period. For women, this limit averages to four drinks within two hours. For men, this limit averages to five drinks within two hours.
Alcoholism addiction signs include binge drinking that interferes with a person’s well-being and lifestyle. If a person who partakes in binge drinking is unable to quit drinking alcohol, that is a clear sign of alcohol addiction.
Alcohol abuse is not defined by the volume of alcohol consumed but rather by the inability to control alcohol consumption. People engaging in alcohol abuse may have an increased tolerance to alcohol and may be unable to quit drinking despite the negative consequences.
Alcohol addiction signs include alcohol abuse drinking that interferes with a person’s well-being and lifestyle. If a person is unable to quit abusing the substance, that is a clear sign of addiction.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
- Headaches: When a person with a drinking problem ceases consumption, headaches may be a symptom the person experiences during recovery.
- Nausea: Nausea is another common symptom of alcohol withdrawal after alcohol consumption is halted. Intense nausea can often lead to vomiting during the alcohol withdrawal process.
- Insomnia: A person suffering from a drinking problem may have difficulty sleeping and struggle with insomnia once they stop consuming alcohol.
- Sweating: Excessive sweating is another short-term alcohol withdrawal symptom that is common at the beginning of the recovery period.
- Confusion: During the alcohol withdrawal process, confusion is a common short-term withdrawal symptom in people recovering from a drinking problem.
Long-term symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can include:2
Delirium tremens (DTs) usually start three to five days after drinking has been stopped and are considered the most severe form of withdrawal after EtOH abuse. DTs can involve bodily shaking, paranoia, hallucinations, confusion, and in severe cases, can result in death.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can occur up to three to four weeks after drinking has been stopped.3
Hormonal imbalances are a common symptom of long-term alcohol withdrawal. Typically, hormones become regulated around twelve weeks into the recovery process.
Long-term drinking problems can lead to acute kidney failure, but kidneys can be healed after alcohol consumption has been ceased. The kidneys can heal over time from kidney disease if alcohol use is completely discontinued.
Long-term alcohol dependence can cause painful stomach ulcers during the withdrawal process. These ulcers can heal over time if alcohol use is completely discontinued.
Liver cirrhosis is when scarring (fibrosis) takes place in the liver due to damage caused by EtOH abuse and alcoholism. Generally, liver cirrhosis is irreversible, but discontinuing alcohol consumption can significantly decrease the risk of death from liver cirrhosis caused by alcohol use disorder.
Compromised Immune System
A compromised immune system can take from a few days to up to a month to become fully functional again after recovering from alcohol use disorder.
The Dangers of Alcohol Poisoning
Knowing the signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning is vital. Failure to recognize alcohol overdose signs can result in permanent brain damage or death.
Alcohol poisoning can be identified by:4
- Mental confusion
- Extreme dizziness
- Losing consciousness
- Difficulty breathing
- Clammy skin
- Slow heart rate
- Low body temperature
- Delayed responses
Alcohol Withdrawal Signs
Alcohol withdrawal can be identified by both physical and psychological signs. These alcohol addiction signs typically occur within the first three days of stopping the consumption of alcohol and can appear as soon as six hours after the last drink was consumed.
The physical signs of alcohol withdrawal can include:
- Shaky hands
- Delirium tremens
- Kidney disease
- Alcoholic fatty liver
- High blood pressure
The psychological signs of alcohol withdrawal include:
- Alcohol dementia
Getting Treatment for Alcohol Addiction
There is hope for people recovering from alcohol addiction signs seeking treatment. Here are some options for recovery from alcoholism:
Counseling is an excellent way to dive deep and find methods to avoid alcoholism problems in the future. Many people in recovery may seek long-term counseling to reduce the risk of relapse.
Treating Underlying Problems
Treating any underlying problems, such as mental illness or unstable home life, that can contribute to the alcohol use disorder can help a recovering person avoid relapsing in the future.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a program for people recovering from alcoholism. AA uses the 12-Step program and a sponsorship system to help people find long-term recovery solutions.
Alcohol detoxification, or detox, is a necessary part of the recovery process. During this alcohol detoxification period, the person will stop consuming alcohol and deal with the withdrawal symptoms as the alcohol leaves their system.
Some medications, such as Campral (acamprosate) and Trexan (Naltrexone), can help treat alcohol addiction and relieve uncomfortable alcohol withdrawal symptoms.5
People recovering from alcohol addiction can partake in a wide variety of different therapies available to help minimize the risk of relapse. Psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and dialectal behavioral therapy are excellent options for people after the alcohol detoxification process has been completed.