The term problem drinking describes many variations in drinking severity and alcohol dependency. In some cases, one may occasionally drink in excess (also called binge drinking). In others, chronic drinking evolves into alcohol dependence and alcoholism (also referred to as an alcohol use disorder). Unfortunately, diagnosing an alcohol use disorder is not always a simple task. There are many shades of grey that fall between occasional “social” drinking and alcoholism.
What Are the Signs of an Alcohol Problem?
Like many other addictions, alcohol addiction is a struggle unique to the individual. Although two people may struggle with a negative relationship with alcohol, they will not likely present or experience alcohol dependency or addiction in the same way. Because of this, mental health professionals, addiction treatment providers, and members of the medical community turn to the diagnostic criteria set forth by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, or DSM-5. Although the DSM-5 lists eleven diagnostic criteria, it is possible to exhibit only a few and still meet the diagnostic criteria for a substance use disorder. Someone is usually diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder when their drinking interferes with work, school, family, and other responsibilities, or they continue to consume (or crave) alcohol despite known harmful consequences.
Alcohol addiction presents with a combination of physical and psychological symptoms. The eleven criteria listed in the DSM-5 address both of these elements. If left untreated, abuse of alcohol can quickly evolve into something severe and potentially life-threatening. Understanding the warning signs of alcoholism is vital to ensuring your loved one receives early access to alcohol addiction treatment. Some of the most common signs of alcoholism include:
- Sudden or frequent mood changes
- Difficulties with memory or frequent blackouts
- Increased isolation and distancing from friends and family
- Choosing alcohol over essential responsibilities and obligations
- Drinking alone or finding “excuses” to drink
- Craving alcohol or becoming angry when one cannot drink
Even your loved one’s symptoms are mild, any sign of an alcohol use disorder should not be ignored. Without proper treatment, an alcohol use disorder can quickly intensify, putting both physical and psychological health at risk.
Why Professional Treatment is the Best Way to Treat an Alcohol Problem
Choosing to get sober from alcohol is a difficult decision and should not be undertaken without the support of professional addiction treatment. Detox from alcohol is often more challenging than many other substances. Quitting alcohol suddenly, also called “cold turkey,” can be dangerous and, in some cases, fatal. To ensure safety during detox and the greatest opportunity for success during treatment, it is essential to receive proper medical care and support while detoxing from alcohol at a professional treatment center like Concise Recovery.
During detox, the body requires time to adjust to functioning without alcohol. This process inevitably results in various symptoms and complications. The most severe effects of alcohol withdrawal can include dangerous symptoms, including delirium tremens (DT), shaking, headache, high blood pressure, seizures, hallucinations, nausea, and confusion, which, if left unmonitored or untreated, can lead to medical emergencies or death. Due to the potential severity of withdrawal symptoms, detoxing in a medically supervised environment is crucial to treatment safety and success.
Tips on How to Approach Your Loved One About Their Alcohol Problem
Approaching your loved one about their alcohol problem can be complex and emotionally challenging for everyone involved. Unlike a physical health condition where the symptoms are often apparent, someone struggling with an alcohol addiction may not recognize the actual danger of their illness. It is essential to remember that your loved one must acknowledge their addiction before understanding the value of getting help. After acknowledgment comes being ready and willing to address their addiction at a treatment center like Concise Recovery.
The first step in approaching your loved one about their addiction is remembering to be patient and honest. Find the time when you can talk without distractions or interruptions. Be honest about your fears and concerns but do so without placing blame or using accusations. Use the word “I” instead of the term “you.” Keep in mind that they may not be ready or willing to hear your thoughts right away but let them know you are available and willing to listen. If they become defensive, let it go for the time being. Do use threats or shame.
Approaching a loved one about their alcohol problem on your own can be challenging. If you are concerned, a loved one may struggle with an addiction to alcohol, reach out to Concise Recovery today. Let our admissions staff guide you and provide advice as to how to approach the idea of addiction treatment with your loved one.