Drinking alcohol regularly and in large quantities can signal a larger problem, especially if you are unable to control your consumption. Yet this alone is not enough to diagnose a condition as serious as alcohol use disorder (AUD), also known as alcoholism or alcohol addiction.
If you or someone you love is suffering from AUD, there are ways to tell that the condition has become serious enough to require intervention. Our Las Vegas alcohol addiction treatment professionals explain some common signs of alcohol abuse.
What Are the Signs of Alcohol Abuse?
Many people are able to have a glass of wine with dinner every night and crave nothing more; others like to binge drink every single weekend. As long as these behaviors don’t become compulsive and negatively affect your everyday life, however, they would not be considered alcoholism.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 90% of people who drink excessively are not expected to meet the clinical diagnostic criteria for having a severe alcohol use disorder. Drinking that becomes so severe it is given the medical diagnosis of “alcohol use disorder” is characterized by the inability to quit or control alcohol use despite numerous adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.
Behaviors & Symptoms Associated With AUD
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) estimates that 15 million Americans suffer from AUD. To be diagnosed with AUD, a person must meet certain criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Under the current version of the DSM, anyone meeting two or more of the criteria during the same twelve-month period has AUD. Whether the AUD is considered mild, moderate, or severe is based on how many of the 11 criteria are met.
AUD can affect anyone regardless of sex, race, income, or other factors, although genetics, stress, and psychological issues can make certain people more predisposed than others.
The symptoms of a drinking problem as severe as alcoholism include:
- A strong, near-constant desire or craving to drink
- An inability to control alcohol cravings
- An inability to get through everyday activities without drinking alcohol
- An inability to stop drinking alcohol
- An increased tolerance for alcohol
- Attempting to drink alcohol without others knowing
- Choosing to drink over other responsibilities and obligations
- Continuing to drink alcohol despite it causing personal and/or professional problems
- Experiencing shakes or tremors after holding off on drinking alcohol for a short time
- Irritability and extreme mood swings
- Lying about drinking alcohol
- Temporary blackouts and/or short-term memory loss
Myriad problems may result from alcohol abuse, such as:
- Driving under the influence
- Legal problems or trouble
- Neglecting responsibilities
- Arguments or other contentious issues with family and friends
- Accidents and injuries
- Aggressive behavior
- Anxiety, irritability, and depression
Drinking ultimately becomes a problem if it causes trouble in your relationships, activities, job, school, or in how you think and feel. Yet only a professional can diagnose you. Consult your health care provider if you become concerned that either you or someone in your family might have a drinking problem. You can also give our treatment specialists a call—we are happy to answer any questions that you have.