Am I an Alcoholic?
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- Additional Risk Factors
- Signs of Alcohol Abuse or Addiction
- Withdrawal Symptoms
- Getting Help
An alcoholic is someone who has become addicted to alcohol. Although an alcoholic may experience difficulty in relationships, problems at work, or health issues related to alcohol use, the drinking continues. Alcohol abuse is more likely to escalate to physical addiction if an individual drinks frequently or consumes multiple alcoholic drinks on a regular basis. Men are considered at risk for alcoholism if they have 15 or more drinks per week. For women, the bar is set at 12 or more drinks weekly. Even if an individual only drinks once a week, consuming five or more drinks during each session increases the risk.
Additional Risk Factors
Certain environmental and interpersonal factors can make someone more susceptible to developing alcoholism. Those who have an alcoholic parent have a higher likelihood of becoming addicted, as do people who experience psychological issues such as bipolar disorder, anxiety, or depression. Low self-esteem, chronic stress, and ongoing relationship issues can lead to alcohol dependence, as well.
Signs of Alcohol Abuse or Addiction
An individual’s behavior while drinking is often the initial signal that alcohol is a potential problem. Those who often drink alone, hide or lie about the amount they drink, or become violent when drinking may be at risk. As alcoholics develop dependence on the substance, they may make excuses for drinking and be unable to stop. Eventually, they start to neglect their responsibilities, including missing work or school. When someone is dependent on alcohol, drinking becomes necessary just to get through the day.
Once physical addiction has taken hold, the alcoholic may experience withdrawal symptoms when going without alcohol for as little as five hours. Psychological symptoms include depression, anxiety, muddled thinking, irritability, mood swings, sleeping problems, and anxiety. Physical symptoms can include headaches, nausea, clammy skin, appetite loss, rapid heart rate, and sweating. In some individuals, alcohol withdrawal can lead to delirium tremens, which may manifest as confusion, hallucinations, agitation, fever, and seizures.
While some individuals are able to stop drinking on their own, most alcoholics benefit from some type of support. Withdrawal can be managed through either inpatient or outpatient treatment, depending on the severity of the symptoms. Support groups can be helpful in assisting alcoholics in remaining sober after the withdrawal process has been completed. If you believe you may be experiencing the effects of alcohol abuse or addiction, consider taking the Michigan Alcohol Screening Test.