Alcohol is an extremely addictive substance, and it is readily available. Therefore, it’s not surprising that alcohol addiction is widespread throughout the country (and the world). Recovering from an alcohol addiction can be challenging for a number of reasons, but it is possible — many people make a full recovery every year. Here’s what you need to know if you or a loved one is struggling with alcoholism.
Signs of an Alcoholic
It can sometimes be difficult to spot the difference between a typical social drinker and someone who is addicted to alcohol. Alcoholism is not always obvious from the outside, and anyone from any walk of life can suffer from it. However, there are a number of common signs you can look out for if you think a loved one may be having problems with alcohol abuse.
Regular alcohol use is, of course, one of the hallmark signs of an alcoholic. However, problematic levels of alcohol consumption will vary from person to person. Some alcoholics don’t even drink every day, while some drink heavily. Some people even manage to drink on a regular basis without developing an addiction to alcohol (although this is not recommended).
In addition to regular alcohol use, some of the key signs of an alcoholic are that their alcohol use is disrupting their ability to function in life and fulfill their responsibilities. This can often cause changes in the person’s behavior, habits, and personality as well.
Symptoms of an alcoholic:
- Mood swings or sudden changes in personality
- Excessive annoyance or anger over seemingly trivial things
- Pulling away from friends and family members to spend more time alone
- Having an overly secretive demeanor
- Frequently drinking in private
- Looking for excuses to drink at every possible occasion
- Spending more time with new drinking friends
- Appearing sick or unwell more frequently
Alcohol and Depression
Alcohol abuse rarely occurs alone. It more often goes hand-in-hand with another type of addiction or mood disorder. Depression is one of the most frequent of these co-occurring disorders.
Not everyone with depression is an alcoholic. However, a high percentage of alcoholics — some sources say as many as 50% — have depression to some degree. Alcohol might seem to mask the symptoms of depression for a while, but in the long run, it only makes the depression worse.
Because alcohol and depression are usually a vicious cycle, it’s important for people with the two disorders to get them both treated at the same time. For instance, someone who gets treated for alcoholism without addressing their underlying depression will be at high risk for relapsing once their depression gets hard to handle again.
Is Alcoholism a Disease?
In the past, alcoholism and other addictions were dismissed as moral defects or weaknesses. Today, however, medical professionals concur that addiction is actually a disease of the brain and not a flaw in someone’s character. So the answer to the question, “Is alcoholism a disease?” is unequivocally yes.
Alcohol is chemically addictive. Once a person starts to drink regularly, they quickly become dependent on alcohol to replace their depleted neurotransmitters. This turns into physical dependence in the form of shakes, sweats, and nausea. At this point, a person’s alcohol dependence has become an addiction outside their control, and they need professional intervention to safely wean themselves off the substance. Untreated alcohol withdrawal symptoms can cause death in severe cases.
How to Get Help
Alcohol addiction is a serious physical and mental disease, but it can be overcome. Thousands of people take their first step towards a healthy, sober life every day. Here are a few things you can do to get help and start your recovery on the right foot.
Choose Your Community
The people around you are one of the most important aspects of your recovery, so choose them carefully. Surround yourself with family and friends who know about your recovery and are supportive of your goals. Avoid hanging out with your old drinking friends, especially at favorite places where you used to drink together. No matter how much you might care about them, your recovery needs to be your main priority.
Commit to a New Lifestyle
Drinking is hard on your body, so make an effort to take extra good care of yourself as you embark on a sober lifestyle. Eat well, exercise regularly, and sleep at least eight hours every night. Be gentle with yourself as you recover.
Find New Ways to Cope
No one learns how to stop drinking long-term without finding alternate coping strategies to use. You can find coping strategies that work for you by asking yourself how and why you use alcohol. Do you use it as a social lubricant? A way to feel better after a long day? Answering this question will give you some clues about healthier alternatives you might be able to pursue.
Music City Interventions
Are you ready to stop drinking, or are you seeking help for a loved one with a drinking problem? We would love to help. Contact Music City Interventions today to find out how we can help you or a loved one overcome alcohol abuse. In addition to being an intervention specialist, our services include sober coaching, treatment center placement, and more.