10 Common Symptoms of Alcoholism

Alcoholism affects more than 3 million Americans each year. It is a chronic condition for those unable to control their drinking and are preoccupied with drinking. People emotionally and physically depend on alcohol. For example, they may drink because they are depressed, or they must drink to avoid suffering from seizures and other complications.

Alcoholism can cause trouble for you at work, school, and with your family. You may put yourself in dangerous situations, from driving drunk and hurting yourself or others, or going to work drunk and able to do your job. Understand the symptoms of alcoholism and seek treatment if necessary.

Symptom 1: Blackouts

Do you experience blackouts after drinking? Are you unable to remember how you got home or what happened after you drank?

According to Rehabs.com, “Alcohol begins to impair your memory after you consume as little as one to two drinks. Blackouts are caused by heavy drinking on an empty stomach, or when you engage in ‘chugging.’ Binge drinking makes your blood alcohol levels rise too rapidly, thus producing a blackout. The blood alcohol content for blackouts begins at 0.14.”

Symptom 2: Making Excuses

Do you drink to celebrate a birthday? Death in the family? Do you make excuses to drink alcohol? Many times, alcoholics use sorrow or celebration as a reason to drink.

Also, they decide to drink in denial because they don’t think they have a drinking problem. They may tell you it’s not as bad as it looks, or they just need a little relief to blow off steam. Then, they may tell you, “I can stop anytime I want to!”

Symptom 3: Skipping Work

Do you skip work or events to drink alcohol or you’re already drunk? Or because you have a hangover? These are indicators that you have a drinking problem.

Some alcoholics can function at work, but there are signs to watch out for, such as a smell of alcohol on them or their breath, slurred speech, frequent breaks, not finishing or properly handling tasks, and mood swings.

Symptom 4: Extreme Mood Swings

Alcoholics often act like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. One minute, they can be kind and sincere, but the next moment, they are aggressive and angry. Those with an alcohol problem have mood swings more than usual.

Alcohol abuse accounts for major personality changes. Although alcohol supposedly makes you feel good, it also makes you feel guilty, lonely, anxiety, and discontent.

Symptom 5: Drinking Alone

Do you drink when you are alone? When you go home from work, do you immediately have a drink to unwind? Are you self-medicating due to problems at work or with your family? Do you drink alone because you don’t want anyone to know that you are drinking or ask you questions about your drinking?

Drinking alone can become a habit and lead to alcoholism because you become dependent on it. Drinking alone makes your more susceptible to being the victim of an assault as well as feeling depressed and guilty.

Symptom 6: Legal and Medical Issues

Alcoholics often continue to drink, even after legal or medical issues arise, such as a DUI. Alcohol increases your chances of dying due to car accidents, injuries, homicide, and suicide. It is dangerous to drink too much. It increases your chance of getting certain cancers. Plus, it damages your liver, brain, and other internal organs. Drinking while pregnancy can harm your unborn baby.

Also, problems can occur at work due to your drinking. You may be too drunk to perform job duties. You may lose your driver’s license or be arrested and possibly convicted for an accident and injuries due to drunk driving. Your employer will likely fire you, or demand that you get treatment before continuing to work. 

Symptom 7: Beginning Each Day with a Drink

As an alcoholic, you get to a point where you need alcohol to function or get going each day. So, the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning is pour yourself a drink. You may even drink all day long. Watch out for family members, friends, and coworkers who may be hiding their alcohol consumption by putting their drinks in those popular water bottles or coffee mugs.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “Moderate alcohol consumption is defined as one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men. They also define binge drinking as typically occurring after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men in a time span of about 2 hours. Heavy alcohol use is classified as binge drinking on 5 or more days in the past month.”

Symptom 8: Feeling Guilty

At first, people drink because they enjoy the way it makes them feel. Eventually, they drink too much, too often, and start to feel guilty and shameful for their dependency on alcohol. They feel bad because of what their addiction is doing to themselves, as well as their family.

People often get to a point where they do want to stop drinking and get help. But it is definitely a struggle to handle alcoholism. Sometimes, you relapse, and again feel guilty and shameful.

Symptom 9: Wanting to Quit

When people reach their bottom, and not the bottom of a bottle, they are ready to seek treatment or try quitting on their own. You probably have heard that the first step is admitting that you have a problem.

There are things you can do to avoid putting yourself in a tricky situation. For example, do not keep any alcohol in your home, find something else to do at times during the day when you would drink, and avoid social events that include availability to alcohol.

Symptom 10: Nausea/Vomiting

Alcoholics often suffer from nausea and vomiting. This is because alcohol aggravates your stomach’s lining and increases acid in your stomach. Blood may be seen in the vomit due to frequent vomiting rupturing veins in their throat.

To reduce the feeling of nausea, try drinking water and other fluids (not more alcohol, but sports drinks or coconut water), eat sugary and fatty foods (pizza, orange juice, etc.), and go back to bed.