Addiction Questions & Answers
Signs & Symptoms of Alcoholism

For many, alcohol consumption is an occasional part of life. Many American adults drink socially and moderately, never experiencing any personal consequences as a result of their alcohol use. However, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, roughly 18 million American adults currently struggle with a diagnosable alcohol use disorder. This means drinking patterns extend beyond the social norm, and alcohol consumption results in a range of serious personal consequences. Alcohol use disorders range in severity, and can be considered mild, moderate or severe. Alcoholism is a progressive health condition, meaning related symptoms will continuously worsen the longer they are left untreated. At CuraWest we understand how difficult it can be to come to terms with an alcohol use disorder. Even if you have been misusing alcohol for a short period of time, we recommend entering into a medical detox program for at least several days before continuing your personal recovery journey. The symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal can be uncomfortable and potentially dangerous regardless of the severity of the alcohol use disorder. If you would like to learn more about our alcohol detox program or about the signs and symptoms associated with alcoholism, contact us today.

How Can You Tell If You Are Experiencing Alcoholism?

If you believe you have been struggling with alcoholism but you are not quite sure, there are several signs and symptoms to look for. People who struggle with alcoholism tend to exhibit a combination of physical, emotional and behavioral warning signs. Because it can sometimes be difficult to identify warning signs in yourself, it is a good idea to seek a professional opinion. At CuraWest we are available to help you determine whether or not professional treatment has become necessary. Contact us today for professional advice on what steps to take next.

Physical Signs of Alcoholism

Most people have experienced negative physical consequences associated with heavy drinking. Maybe you have an unpleasant memory tied to a booze-fueled night in college. Maybe you steer clear of a particular type of liquor because it conjures unpleasant memories of a violent physical reaction. Most people who experience negative physical consequences linked to heavy drinking simply limit their intake, or stay away from alcohol entirely. Those who struggle with a diagnosable alcohol use disorder, however, cannot control their intake no matter how much physical pain drinking causes. The more common physical signs of alcoholism are:

  • Watery and bloodshot eyes.
  • Noticeable weight gain or weight loss.
  • A lack of coordination.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Unexplainable bruises and other physical injuries.
  • Digestive and gastrointestinal issues (nausea, vomiting, stomach pain).
  • Feeling tired and sluggish throughout the day.
  • Severe hangovers (headaches, nausea, fatigue).
  • A weakened immune system, leading to compromised physical health.
  • Flushing of the face/red cheeks and nose.
  • The development of a physical tolerance.

Consuming a large amount of alcohol for a prolonged period of time can lead to a range of serious short and long-term health effects. People who struggle with untreated alcoholism are more susceptible to liver disease, certain types of cancer, serious digestive problems, bone damage and compromised sexual function. If you have been drinking heavily and you are concerned about a possible decline of physical health, we are available to help.

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Emotional & Behavioral Signs of Alcoholism

In some cases the emotional and behavioral signs of alcoholism are easier to identify. If you have been struggling with an alcohol use disorder, you might notice the following:

  • You are less engaged with work or school and have experienced a decline in your performance as a result of your alcohol use.
  • You spend more time alone, isolated from close friends and family members.
  • You experience a lack of interest in activities you used to enjoy.
  • You experience new or worsening problems in your interpersonal relationships.
  • You engage in risk-taking activities like driving while intoxicated and combining alcohol with other chemical substances.
  • You have been feeling more anxious or depressed than you normally do.
  • You hide your drinking patterns from loved ones.
  • You experience financial or legal problems directly linked to alcohol use.

Alcoholism Quiz

If you are still on the fence, we encourage you to participate in our Alcoholism Quiz or reach out to us directly for more detailed information. The questions below are geared towards helping you determine whether or not treatment is necessary, though it is always a good idea to obtain a second opinion from a medical professional.

Signs of alcoholism and what to look for in an alcohol use disorder

Question #1: Do you often use alcohol in larger amounts or over a longer period than you intended?

If you struggle to control your alcohol intake there is a good chance you have been struggling with some degree of alcohol use disorder. People who are afflicted with alcoholism often tell themselves they’ll stop after two drinks, or only stay at the bar until 10 p.m. and then head home. However, they have an especially difficult time keeping within these parameters.

Question #2: Have you wanted to cut back on alcohol or made unsuccessful attempts to do so?

If you have already started to experience personal consequences as a direct result of your drinking habits, you might have attempted to cut back or quit entirely. Most people who struggle with alcohol dependence are unable to quit without professional help.

Question #3: Do you spend a great deal of time finding, using or recovering from using?

Maybe your hangovers have started to get more severe, and you frequently skip out on your personal obligations because you’re recovering from the night before. Maybe you are preoccupied with taking your next drink, and you spend a good portion of the day thinking about alcohol. Preoccupation with drinking is a good indication of an alcohol use disorder.

Question #4: Do you have strong urges or powerful cravings to use alcohol?

People who struggle with alcohol dependence experience overwhelming cravings. You might not be aware of a craving when one comes on — suddenly you just really want to drink, and rather than consider why you simply reach for the bottle.

Question #5: Has your use of alcohol resulted in your inability to meet your obligations at work, home, or school?

If you are too hungover to perform at work or at school, or if you attempt to take care of your responsibilities while intoxicated, you likely require some degree of treatment. People who struggle with alcoholism often have a difficult time balancing their drinking career and their pre-existing obligations.

Question #6: Have you had to cut back on or abandon social, professional, or recreational activities due to your use of alcohol?

If you have been prioritizing alcohol, you have probably had to limit other activities. Maybe you spend less time with your friends or family, take on fewer assignments at work or at school, or quit hobbies you used to hold in high esteem.

Question #7: Have you repeatedly used alcohol when it was hazardous to do so, such as while driving a car?

People who struggle with alcohol dependence often engage in a variety of risk-taking behaviors. Maybe you drive while intoxicated or combine alcohol with other chemical substances like opioids or benzodiazepines.

Question #8: Have you experienced social or relationship problems due to your alcohol use and kept using anyway?

People who struggle with alcoholism often experience strained interpersonal relationships. Maybe you have pushed your loved ones away so you can continue to drink in peace. Maybe you keep getting into fights with your partner or spouse over your drinking habits. This is a good indication of an alcohol use disorder.

Question #9: Have you kept using alcohol knowing that it has caused or worsened physical or mental health issues?

If a medical or psychiatric professional has recommended you cut back on your alcohol intake but you continue to drink heavily, it might be due to a physical and psychological dependence on alcohol.

Question #10: When you attempt to cut back on or stop your use of alcohol, have you experienced uncomfortable physical or mental health symptoms (withdrawal)?

The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal vary on a person-to-person basis and depend on the severity of the alcohol use disorder. Common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include stomach cramping, nausea and vomiting, body tremors, severe anxiety, sleeplessness, persistent headaches, profuse sweating and general feelings of physical discomfort.

Question #11: Have you needed more alcohol to feel the effects you’re seeking (tolerance)?

Tolerance is a telltale sign of alcohol dependence. When you develop a physical tolerance it means your body is adjusting to the presence of alcohol, and you have to consume a larger quantity in order to feel the desired effects. People who develop a tolerance also experience symptoms of withdrawal when they quit drinking suddenly.

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Alcoholism Quiz Results

Generally, professionals look for the presence of two or more of these criteria over the course of a 12-month period when evaluating for an alcohol use disorder. Answering “yes” to two or more of these questions may indicate the potential presence of an alcohol use disorder, though only a medical or addiction treatment professional may provide an official diagnosis. The American Psychiatric Association utilizes the criteria laid out by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (or DSM-V) to effectively diagnose and treat alcohol use disorders of all severties. If you answered “yes” to any of the above-listed questions we recommend reaching out today for help determining which level of care is the most appropriate for your unique case.

How to Get Help Treating Your Alcohol Use Disorder

If you have been struggling with alcoholism, what steps can you take to heal on a physical, mental and emotional level? The very first step is reaching out for help. Once you make the decision to contact us, we will help you decide which level of care is right for you. In most cases, we recommend a multi-phased program of addiction treatment which includes:

Medical detox is always a recommended first step, seeing as the physical and psychological symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal can be severe. However, the next appropriate level of care varies based on your personal circumstances. If you have been drinking heavily on a daily basis for multiple years, residential rehab will be recommended. If you have been misusing alcohol for several months and have no underlying issues, PHP or IOP might be a viable treatment option. Contact us today to learn more about which level of alcoholism treatment is right for you.

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At CuraWest we provide people of all ages with a carefully developed and comprehensive program of alcohol detoxification. Our program is geared towards physical stabilization and an introduction to therapeutic healing. In addition to providing our clients with a safe and pain-free alcohol withdrawal, we adequately prepare them to take the next appropriate step in their personal recovery journeys. The moment you reach out you will be put in touch with one of our experienced Treatment Advisors who will walk you through our simple admissions process. We begin by conducting a brief pre-assessment to ensure our alcohol detox program is the best option for you. We offer a free, no obligation insurance benefit check if you are currently insured through a major regional or national provider. Finally, we arrange local transportation to our Denver, Colorado detox center. All you have to do is reach out and we will take care of the rest.

Reviewed for accuracy by:

Jasmine has worked in the mental health field for over 18 years. She earned her B.A. in Psychology with a Minor in Child and Family Relations from North Carolina Central University, and her M.A. in Mental Health Counseling from Argosy University. Jasmine is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor and has specialized in addiction for over 10 years.