“What are the signs I am addicted to alcohol?” This is a common question, and we have the answers.
Alcohol addiction affects around 15.1 million Americans, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. For those who wonder, what are the signs I am addicted to alcohol, understanding addiction and how it’s diagnosed – and understanding the warning signs of alcoholism – is essential for getting an accurate answer.
What Are Alcohol Abuse, Addiction, and Dependence?
Alcohol abuse, addiction, and dependence are not the same thing. What makes a person an alcoholic isn’t just heavy alcohol abuse.
Alcohol abuse is the act of using alcohol in a way that causes problems, such as relationship, health, financial, or legal problems. The most common form of alcohol abuse is binge drinking. Binge drinking means consuming enough alcohol in the space of two hours to bring your blood alcohol level up to the legal limit of .08 percent. For women, this is usually around four drinks, and for men, it’s usually around five. Alcohol abuse can lead to addiction and dependence.
Answering the question, what are the signs I am addicted to alcohol requires understanding what, exactly, alcohol addiction is.
What makes a person an alcoholic is the inability to stop drinking despite the problems it’s causing in your life. You may want to quit, or you may try to quit, but you’ll find that you simply can’t stop using, either at all or for a meaningful period of time.
That’s because addiction is a power disease that causes changes in the physical structures and chemical function of the brain. When you chronically abuse alcohol, changes in the brain’s learning, memory, and pleasure centers lead the brain to make powerful associations between alcohol use and pleasure. This causes intense cravings for alcohol that are produced by the same mechanisms that lead you to eat and procreate in order to stay alive. It’s extremely difficult to stop using once you develop an addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse stresses that good intentions and willpower aren’t enough to help you stop drinking once an addiction has set in. Recovery for the long-term almost always requires professional help.
Alcohol dependence is a physical reliance on alcohol. When you chronically abuse alcohol, your brain changes the way it functions chemically in order to compensate for its presence. This leads to tolerance, wherein you keep needing more alcohol to get the same effects. At some point, brain function may change so that it operates more comfortably when alcohol is present. Then, when you try to stop using, brain function rebounds, and withdrawal symptoms set in. These can be excruciating, and they can make it extremely difficult to stop drinking on your own.
Now that you understand alcohol abuse, addiction, and dependence, let’s answer the question, what are the signs I am addicted to alcohol?
Warning Signs of Alcoholism
To answer the question, “what are the signs I am addicted to alcohol?”, you should understand how an alcohol use disorder, or AUD, is diagnosed. Alcohol use disorders include abuse, addiction, and dependence, and they’re characterized as mild, moderate, and severe, depending on how many of the eleven diagnostic criteria you meet. Meeting two or three criteria indicates a mild disorder, while four or five denotes a moderate disorder. Meeting six or more indicates a severe AUD. An AUD is a medical condition that almost always requires professional help to overcome.
In the past year, have you:
- Ended up drinking more or for a longer period of time than you intended?
- Wanted or tried to stop but found you couldn’t?
- Spent a lot of time drinking or recovering from drinking?
- Had intense cravings for alcohol?
- Neglected responsibilities at home, work or school due to your drinking?
- Continued drinking even though it was causing relationship problems?
- Lost interest in activities you once enjoyed in favor of drinking?
- Engaged in risky behaviors while under the influence?
- Continued to drink despite related mental or physical health problems?
- Needed increasing amounts of alcohol to get the same effects?
- Experienced withdrawal symptoms when you tried to stop drinking?
If you now believe you may have an alcohol addiction, treatment is essential for ending your addiction for good, and WhiteSands Treatment can help. Our holistic treatment program helps many people not only end an alcohol addiction, but also to repair and restore their relationships, finances, and health for a better quality of life and a greater sense of well-being and life satisfaction. Contact WhiteSands Treatment today, and let us help you get on the road to recovery once and for all.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.