Alcohol addiction frequently is not as obvious as media and perceptions would have us believe. When considering whether you are struggling with alcohol addiction, there are several things you should consider. As alcohol and social drinking are deeply ingrained in our society, often what may seem like harmless social drinking may actually be indicative of a larger problem.
Alcohol addiction is defined by an inability to stop drinking despite negative consequences that are being experienced by continuing to drink. It is difficult to predict who will and will not develop alcoholism; however with more than 15 million people in the United States alone the disease is extremely common. Studies have shown that there is a genetic component to alcoholism, meaning that if someone in your family struggles with alcoholism you may be at increased risk of developing the disease.
If you are addicted to alcohol, you may experience symptoms including:
- Drinking more than intended
- Inability to cut back or stop
- Negative effects in your personal and professional life
- Alcohol cravings
- Alcohol withdrawal
- Alcohol tolerance
- Hiding or lying about alcohol consumption
Those with an addiction to alcohol may also experience withdrawal symptoms depending on their level and frequency of alcohol use. Withdrawal symptoms can vary from mild to extreme. In some cases, they can be life threatening. Some of the more common withdrawal symptoms include:
- Rapid heart beat
If you are physically addicted to alcohol, withdrawal can begin as soon as four hours after your last drink. Occasionally, you may notice mild symptoms such as a shaking hand, nausea, or a headache. In the most severe of cases when an individual consistently drinks heavily there is a possibility of dangerous withdrawal symptoms occurring.
For someone who drinks heavily, the first two days are the most dangerous time period in their recovery because of the potential for these withdrawal symptoms. An unpleasant and sometimes lethal collection of withdrawal symptoms called delirium tremens can occur as soon as 12 hours after the last drink. Delirium tremens begins as noticeable hand tremors and can progress to confusion and seizures. Without treatment, delirium tremens can also cause hallucinations, high blood pressure, fever, and in some cases death.
Because of the danger delirium tremens presents, discussing treatment options and being open to the possibility of in-patient rehab is important if you drink often or binge drink. During treatment, medication is given to ease both withdrawal symptoms and the possibility of delirium tremens developing.
Like most addictions, alcohol addiction typically develops slowly and is often difficult to detect until it is severe. Although the damage alcohol can cause to an individual’s life is significant, alcoholism can be subtle and hidden. If you suspect you may be struggling with alcoholism, it may be worthwhile to consider whether treatment is the right option for you.
When considering treatment for an alcohol addiction, it is important to honestly evaluate your drinking habits. Do you find yourself drinking alone or drinking often? Have you experienced withdrawal symptoms? Are you unable to stop drinking once you have started? Another important factor to consider is the frequency and volume at which you drink. Although anyone can experience withdrawal or delirium tremens, individuals who consume more alcohol with high frequency have an increased risk. However, all attempts to stop drinking should be observed by a health professional to provide support to both your mind and your body.
Although alcohol is often glamorized in society, by considering your lifestyle and drinking habits you can determine if treatment is the right option for you. Have a look at The Recovery Village.