What is Alcoholism?
Alcoholism is a complex pattern of behaviors caused by a dependence on alcohol. The disease, known medically as alcohol use disorder, can put a person’s health and safety at risk. Not only can alcoholism significantly affect an individual’s physical and mental health, but it can also affect the lives of others in difficult and destructive ways.
Identifying alcoholism may be challenging. Many factors can put an individual more at risk for alcoholism, such as family history, health and trauma history, societal pressure, and regular drinking. Not everyone who abuses alcohol is an alcoholic. However, the possibility of developing an addiction does increase depending on the severity of use and need for alcohol in one’s daily life.
While it might be apparent when a person has been drinking, signs of alcohol dependence are often concealed from others but revealed over time. The top five warning signs of alcoholism include:
- Increased tolerance, cravings, and more intense hangovers. Alcohol misuse makes lasting changing in the brain. These changes may show up as a need to drink more alcohol to get the same buzz, drinking first thing in the morning, or new symptoms of nausea, sweating, or shaking after a weekend of binge drinking.
- Choosing alcohol over people and activities. This includes times when drinking becomes more important to a person than going to a family gathering, forgetting to pick up a child from school or pay a bill, or giving up on a nurturing and joyful hobby.
- Ignoring negative consequences. Regularly saying “no big deal” to driving drunk, consistently skipping or being late to work or class, or not remembering what happened during an alcohol-induced blackout are just a few situations that can lead to life-changing outcomes.
- Drinking to feel differently. Using alcohol to calm one’s nerves or feel more outgoing can lead to dependency. The need to take a drink to function in social situations or the want to drink alone at home can lead to isolation and strained connections with others. It can also cause an individual to experience intense emotions when they cannot drink.
- Hiding or storing alcohol. Keeping alcohol in places where it shouldn’t be, like a nip in a purse, a six-pack in the car’s trunk, or a bottle packed under items in the back of a closet, is evidence of a problem.
When to Get Help
If you think you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol, there are ways to get help. First, communicate the need for support to a trusted family member or friend. The next steps can be to visit a doctor who can diagnose alcohol use disorder or find a reputable addiction treatment center for designing a supervised care plan and providing support groups and counseling opportunities.
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol use disorder, JADE Wellness Center, Pittsburgh’s First comprehensive medicated assisted treatment center, can help. We provide a comprehensive variety of individualized, flexible drug and alcohol outpatient treatment options for adults, adolescents, and families struggling with chemical dependency issues at all stages of the addiction process. To learn more about our onsite and telehealth services, visit myjadewellness.com or call 412-380-0100.