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5 Ways to self-identify an alcohol addiction

Here we will explore five warning signs of an alcohol abuse disorder. If you relate to all or even one of these signs, you may have an alcohol addiction and may want to consider seeking treatment or support from loved ones.

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Many have asked themselves “am I an alcoholic?” It may be hard to discern what is merely a bad habit that needs some attention and what is a serious addiction.

In some cases, it may be just a matter of finding balance, and moderate drinking can resume with no consequences. Other times, people continue dangerous behaviors until worse complications arise. Along the way, there are indicators that point to a serious drinking problem.

Recognizing the five common ways to self-identify an alcohol addiction can prevent the many long-term problems alcohol abuse brings.

5 Common Signs of an Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol abuse has the potential to develop into an addiction, or an alcohol use disorder (AUD). An AUD is a medically diagnosed disorder that can grow over a long period of time.

Below we will explore five warning signs of an alcohol abuse disorder. If you relate to all or even one of these signs, you may have an alcohol addiction and may want to consider seeking treatment or support from loved ones.

1. Inability to Control Drinking

One of the biggest signs of alcohol addiction is not being able to control how much you drink. If you say you will only drink a certain amount, but end up going past that limit, then this is an inability to control your drinking.

For some, this may only happen occasionally, which usually doesn’t indicate an alcohol use disorder. However, if you find you are consistently drinking more than planned, this can point to a larger issue. 

Experiencing constant blackouts — a state where alcohol has blocked a region in your brain that turns short-term memories into long-term memories — is another sign of uncontrolled drinking.

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2. Drastic Physical Changes

Alcohol is a toxin that can have grave effects on your physical outlook. Alcohol abuse can affect both your body and personal appearance.

Some physical changes as a result of alcohol addiction are:

  • weight gain or loss
  • lack of hygiene
  • slurred speech
  • tremors
  • impaired coordination
  • for lighter-skinned people, reddened skin

3. Preoccupation with Drinking

Those with an alcohol addiction will constantly think about when they are able to drink. Even while at work or with family, friends, or partners, they will be thinking about the next time they will be intoxicated.

They will often set up vacations, social gatherings, or seek out events where drinking can play a large part. Other times, they may choose to stay in their homes or at bars and drink.

Hobbies, activities, or spending time with significant others fall away, and drinking can become the number one thing someone wants to do or think about.

4. Rise in Tolerance

As someone continues to drink, they will need more and more alcohol to obtain the desired effects. They will also begin to feel uncomfortable alcohol withdrawal symptoms from heavy abuse, so more alcohol is ingested in order to alleviate symptoms.

When a physical dependence worsens, the body will only crave alcohol, and nothing else. At this point, drinking has become a physical need, instead of a want.

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This can manifest into drinking in the morning, middle of the day, at work, and at inappropriate times. A person with an alcohol addiction might drink any time they need to feel “normal.”

5. Continuing to Drink Despite Negative Consequences

People with an alcohol use disorder will have impaired judgment, and make irrational and negative behaviors attached to drinking seem justified, in order to drink more.

DUIs, violent or embarrassing moments, financial strain, missed opportunities, and ruined relationships may not be enough to make someone with an alcohol addiction stop drinking.

It’s never certain what will make someone realize they have a problem. Unfortunately, some never want to admit it, and continue to drink.

What to Do if You Have an Alcohol Problem

Drinking alcohol is part of the social fabric of many cultures and communities in the United States. But just like any other mind-altering substance, it can be abused and cause a number of problems.

Identifying the above signs and seeking treatment for alcohol problems can prevent future distress. Start by sharing your concerns with a loved one, and look at options such as inpatient rehab, Alcoholics Anonymous, or addiction counseling.

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Your "not that regular" all-around gal, writing about anything, thus everything. "There's always more to discover... thus write about," she says in between - GASP! - puffs. And so that's what she does, exactly. Write, of course; not (just) puff.

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