The effects of an alcohol addiction beginning to set in on either yourself or a loved one can easily go unnoticed. Understanding the warning signs to look out for and developing a skill to recognize these signs early on can greatly impact the success of recovery and might even help you prevent addiction in the first place.

Warning Signs

The following warning signs of potential alcoholism are vital to be aware of. There is a combination of physical, psychological, and behavioral effects that can appear early to indicate signs of alcoholism. Some warning signs include: 

  • Underage drinking
  • Binge drinking
  • Frequently blacking out
  • Consistently thinking about alcohol
  • Increasing alcohol intake
  • Struggling to limit drinks
  • Experiencing long recovery periods after drinking
  • Drinking to hide withdrawal symptoms
  • Trouble functioning without alcohol
  • Hiding drinking habits from others
  • Isolating from support system
  • Drinking alone
  • Making drinking a priority
  • Drinking at unacceptable times
  • Experiencing increased anger

These simple warning signs can indicate that an individual may either be heading to the point of addiction or already have reached that point. Helping them understand their behaviors — or being able to view your behaviors personally — to notice these signs and counteract negative choices about alcohol can save the vulnerable individual from developing alcohol abuse disorder.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Being aware of the withdrawal symptoms is also crucial in recognizing alcohol addiction. If you notice yourself feeling any of the following withdrawal symptoms after taking a break from drinking, this may be a clear indication that you are experiencing withdrawal and may be developing an addiction. Some withdrawal symptoms include: 

  • Mild tremors
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Delirium tremens (rapid onset confusion after drinking)
  • Insomnia

If you begin to notice withdrawal symptoms, you likely have already reached the point of addiction on some level. Reaching out for help and avoiding further alcohol consumption can help you avoid increasing your addiction and worsening the withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms are not enjoyable but don’t last forever. Taking care of your addiction now will be much easier than putting it off.

Alcoholism Criteria

To recognize the potential onset of alcohol addiction, you may find it helpful to be aware of the criteria considered for an addiction to be diagnosed. According to the DSM-5, the following symptoms are necessary to classify alcohol use disorder (AUD):

  • Drinking more than planned or for longer than you anticipated
  • A desire to stop drinking or cut back, but felt unable to
  • Wanting to drink so badly you have trouble focusing on anything else
  • No longer feeling the after-effects of drinking
  • Finding that drinking interferes with your home, job, school, and family life
  • Continuing to drink regardless of the troubles it may bring
  • Giving up on things that are important to you
  • Putting yourself in situations that increase your chances of getting hurt
  • Notice your tolerance to alcohol drastically increasing
  • Noticing withdrawal symptoms when not drinking

The possible effects of AUD on this list are critical criteria to watch for. If an individual demonstrates at least two of the characteristics listed above, they are considered to have AUD. For those who only have two to three symptoms, the level of alcohol abuse is deemed to be mild and can easily be treated if acted upon quickly. Showing four to five of these characteristics is regarded as a moderate level of alcohol use disorder. An addiction involving six or more of these symptoms is considered severe. 

If you or someone you know is showing at least two of these symptoms, look for help right away. Allowing alcoholism to reach the point of severity only makes the process of recovering more difficult. 

What Can I Do?

The primary question that comes into play if you or a loved one experience two or more of these signs is what you can do to help. Looking into different treatment options and recovery plans is an ideal place to start. If you find that you are working with a mild case of alcohol use disorder, you may be able to counteract this with simple treatment plans and self-regulation. When these cases reach a level of severity, a recovery and treatment team is often required to help individuals desist from abusing alcohol.

Noticing these characteristics in others is often easier than noticing them within yourself. However, being mindful of your drinking habits and the effects that alcohol is having on your lifestyle is essential to avoid reaching the point of severe addiction. As soon as you catch the possible onset of alcohol addiction, get help immediately and take the necessary precautions to avoid falling further down the scale of addiction.

Understanding the warning signs of alcohol addiction can help you and those you care about avoid reaching the point of addiction. Catching these warning signs early can help you eliminate the behavior before it becomes addictive or makes the process of addiction recovery more challenging. There are many warning signs and withdrawal symptoms to be aware of. Understanding these characteristics that can diagnose an individual with alcohol use disorder is essential as well. By reviewing the DSM-5 criteria, you can develop an understanding of what alcoholism looks like and be able to recognize its onset in either yourself or others. Understanding this can help you receive the necessary measures to recover from this addiction or to help others heal from it. To learn more about recognizing the onset of alcohol addiction, reach out to Dream Recovery today at (949) 732-1960.

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