Alcoholism is defined in an individual as continuing to drink despite negative consequences, a physical dependence on alcohol and an increased tolerance, and having withdrawal symptoms when the body is suddenly deprived of alcohol. The cause of alcoholism is believed to be both genetic and environmental – that is it can be inherited from a family line of alcoholics as well as developed over time. Environmental factors include availability of alcohol, trauma and the existence of other disorders.
Alcoholism is known to be a progressive illness – over time it always gets worse, never better – and is considered by medical professionals and experts to be a disease, similar to cancer. It can be fatal, but it can also be beat. Untreated, alcoholism will lead the sufferer down a dangerous, lonely and dark path. With help, the individual can recover and build a better life than before, free of the pain and loneliness that defines many an alcoholic’s life.
Every person has a different definition of what it means to have negative consequences. For some it may be as dramatic and evident as jail time, losing a job or family, being turned out of their house. For others, negative effects can be failing a class at school, developing contentious relationships with family members or friends, even prolonged or severe anxiety and depression. In the end, only the individual suffering can state that he or she is an alcoholic, but as soon as those words are thought or uttered, the road to help can begin.
How do you know if you are an alcoholic, or if someone you love is suffering from this disease? Aside from the obvious indicators such as the lost job or DUI conviction, there are typical signs and symptoms of alcoholism. If you see someone you love changing and you are concerned that it may be as a result of their drinking, here are some signs to watch for:
- Complaints of insomnia
- Increased anxiety and depression
- Other mental disorders, such as bipolar disorder, may be exacerbated
- Consistent inability to show up to appointments or commitments on time
- Physical shakes, increased sweating
- Mood swings and increased irritability
If you or someone you love is showing these signs of alcoholism, or seems to be struggling with alcohol abuse, please call right away. We can get you or your loved one help immediately. Let our knowledgeable and caring support staff guide you through the process of recovery.