Having a casual night out with friends and a few drinks is often not something to worry about. However, for many people, it can become easy to become addicted to alcohol. In fact, according to the 2015 NSDUH, 15.1 million adults ages 18 and older (6.2 percent of this age group) has alcohol addiction. If you think you might be becoming addicted to alcohol, read these 10 warning signs.
Top 10 Signs of Becoming Addicted to Alcohol
Trouble in Relationships
Alcohol addiction can cause a strain on many, or all, of the relationships in your life. This can include a failed marriage, once close family members no longer inviting you to events, or concerned friends distancing themselves. If drinking is causing problems between you and your close friends and family members, it’s an indication that alcohol has become more important and the priority in your life. These are symptoms that you’re going beyond the problem-drinker stage, and is one of the early red flags of alcohol addiction.
Changes in Social Circle
Hanging out with a different crowd, like regulars at bars, other alcoholics can be another sign of addiction to alcohol. If you find your friend group consists of heavy drinkers and you and your friends often get drunk together, this may be an issue. Although friendships are acquired over a lifetime, if you find yourself surrounded with bad company it should be a time to reflect. You should always be top priority, and if you circle yourself with people who drink often, take a timeout or reconsider these friendships. This is especially true if you find yourself beginning to get into trouble or activities with this group are leading to negative consequences.
Tolerance is a key indicating sign of addiction. If you need to drink more than you used to in order to feel drunk, your body is adapting to cope with regular exposure to alcohol. This can be a strong indicator that you are developing an addiction to alcohol, especially if you are unable to cut back.
If you are drinking when you really shouldn’t, such as when you wake up, before driving somewhere or against your doctor’s orders, is an important sign of problem drinking. Even if you haven’t gotten in trouble for drinking in these dangerous situations, you run the risk of serious consequences. If those risks don’t concern you, it can be a sign that alcohol is taking a priority in your life.
When a person has become alcohol dependent, they will experience withdrawal symptoms when they have no alcohol in their system.
Some common withdrawal symptoms include:
- Heart Palpitations
More severe withdrawal symptoms may be experienced such as delirium tremens. This commonly will occur in people who have been drinking in excess daily for months or years. Some symptoms of Delirium tremens (DT):
- Deep Sleep
- Sudden mood changes
- Altered mental function
DT is a serious medical condition, and the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be reduced with a detoxification at a medical facility.
Drinking to “Feel Normal”
In order to combat withdrawal symptoms, many people will feel as if they need to drink to “feel normal”. Signs of this can include drinking alone, during work hours, before major events or places where no one else is drinking. If your drinking a necessity to feel normal, or having a need to have drinks throughout the day to maintain the feeling of normality, this is a clear sign of alcohol addiction.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a blackout involves memory loss due to alcohol or drug abuse. Alcohol primarily interferes with the ability to form new long–term memories, leaving intact previously established long–term memories and the ability to keep new information active in memory for brief periods. While this could accidentally happen every once in a while to people who drink, especially young drinkers, it should not be a normal occurrence. If you are regularly experiencing blackouts, it is a strong sign that you may have developed an addiction to alcohol.
Neglecting Everyday Responsibilities
The need for alcohol has become more important than other regular tasks and responsibilities, such as a change in hygiene, not going to the gym anymore, not cleaning your house, sleeping too much or sleeping too little. Changing your schedule to include and prioritize drinking, or your hangover, is a clear red flag of becoming addicted to alcohol.
Unable to Quit or Cut Back
People who have become addicted may experience intense cravings for alcohol. These can be very overwhelming, and cravings can arise from a response to variety of thoughts and feelings. The cravings for alcohol are the strongest when beginning recovery. Often, people experience a tug of war between the part of their brain that wishes to quit drinking and the part that wants to still feel the pleasures of alcohol. If you find yourself unable to quit or cut back your drinking, you might be becoming addicted to alcohol.
Changes in Priorities
If you find yourself not going to work anymore, the bills are stacking up, you are spending too much money on alcohol or even breaking the law and going to jail, then alcohol has become a problem in your life. Have you ever heard someone say you can’t keep your priorities straight?
People drinking responsibly will often begin consuming alcohol once their obligations or responsibilities have been taken care of, whereas problematic drinking begins when the priority becomes consuming alcohol.
About Cliffside Malibu
Now that you have an understanding of some red flags involving alcoholism, and whether or not you might be becoming addicted to alcohol. Luckily, there is help, and we will be with you every step of the way.
Each patient is then matched with one of these five stages of the Transtheoretical Model: Precontemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action and Maintenance. An individualized treatment plan is created based on their current stage of change. This process is in place to ensure that all our patients receive the best treatment path possible for their own specific need. Our goal is to move individuals through their treatment by assessing their readiness for change and formulating stage-matched interventions in order to move them through their respective stage.
It is the policy of Cliffside Malibu to ensure that all individuals who present with chemical dependency issues are assessed for the appropriate level of care. We strive to provide continuum of care including medically supervised detox, residential treatment, day treatment and outpatient services. Services are provided to individuals with a primary diagnosis of substance abuse and/or alcohol addiction. Individuals seeking treatment are assessed by qualified staff to ensure program criteria are met and that each individual admitted is placed in the appropriate level of care for treatment. The program is designed and structured for individuals who are in need of a supportive environment in order to maintain Sobriety.
For more information on Cliffside Malibu, visit cliffsidemalibu.com