It’s one of the most common diseases globally – and in the US alone, 14.1 million adults are suffering from it. Its effects can be devastating, ripping apart families and causing untold economic damage. Yet, despite that, less than one in ten Americans who suffer from it is seeking treatment.
The disease? Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), or alcoholism. Too few people recognize the early warning signs of alcoholism, pushing treatment far down the road.
Recognizing that you or a loved one has an alcohol problem is the first step, so let’s take a look at five significant signs of an alcohol issue.
1. Neglecting Responsibilities
Neglecting responsibilities is frequently an early sign of alcoholism in adults. Starting with poor performance and delinquency, this rapidly becomes chronic failures, absences, and broken promises to loved ones and coworkers.
Even though they may be addicted to alcohol, functioning alcoholics sometimes manage to fulfill their responsibilities, but the effort to keep up appearances leaves them exhausted with the effort it takes.
2. Needing Alcohol To Relax
Alcoholics quickly get to a point where they believe that drinking is the only way to relax. However, resorting to alcohol is a way of taking their mind off interpersonal and job-related conflicts and reducing stress.
A significant alcohol issue is that by disguising their emotions, alcoholics keep themselves from dealing with problems head-on, guaranteeing that they will only worsen with time and more drinking.
3. Feeling Depressed
Drinking to self-medicate depression is common, but it also leads to more depression as alcohol interferes with the brain’s natural pleasure response. That’s why alcoholics find themselves reaching a point where they can’t enjoy life without alcohol.
That creates a vicious cycle where drinking leads to more drinking, all of which combine in making the symptoms of depression progressively worse.
4. Increased Feelings Of Anxiety
Most of us know that at first, alcohol seems to do an excellent job of easing our nerves – think that first drink at a party filled with strangers where you don’t know anyone.
However, using alcohol to alleviate anxiety is a significant sign of alcoholism. By depressing the central nervous system, alcohol most definitely does ease stress.
But, for alcoholics, this begins to have the opposite effect – their central nervous systems start overreacting in response to chronic drinking, creating even more anxiety – and more desire to drink.
5. Dramatic Mood Swings
Chronic drinking begins making changes to our brain structure and chemistry, disrupting our normal responses to emotions. That’s why alcoholics’ quick anger and irritability, their unexplained mood swings, become increasingly apparent to those around them.
Denying these swings – or blaming them on external factors – is another sign of alcoholism.
Five Signs Of Alcoholism
Now that you know a few of the most common signs of alcoholism, be alert to them – in yourself and the people around you. Remember, too, that treatment is available. There often is a detox center near you. Early and effective treatment is the first step in dealing with alcoholism.