A sister noticed that her brother was using alcohol every time she saw him, and when he wasn’t, he smelled of alcohol. She was always close with her brother growing up, but he was starting to distance himself from her. He even said he was too sick to attend her wedding, only after learning it would be alcohol-free. She confronted her brother about her suspicions at his front door. He denied that there was anything wrong as he tried to hide the empty bottles of beer on the floor behind him. She wanted to know how to find him help, but she wasn’t sure how she could get him to see that he needed to seek treatment.
She’s not alone in this situation. In 2022, 6.3% (2,079,000) of Californians were diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder. With so many people having an alcohol use disorder, it can become difficult to find direct care. Pacific Sands is a small facility with a maximum capacity of 15 clients, allowing us to focus on you or your loved one’s personal treatment plan. So, how can you tell if you or a loved one has an alcohol use disorder? What signs of alcoholism can you look out for?
Common Alcohol Use Disorder Signs
There are several signs that can indicate that you or someone you know has an alcohol use disorder. One of the most common signs is that there is a strong desire to have a drink. Perhaps you have decided that you only have signs of social drinking, but once you have started, there is a sense of a loss of control. This can lead to binge drinking, which is defined as 5 drinks or more for men in one sitting and 4 drinks or more for women. One drink is defined as 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine, or 1.5 oz of distilled spirits which includes whiskey, tequila, and rum.
Alcohol Use Warning Signs
There are some other warning signs that can indicate that one’s alcohol use has become a more serious concern. These can include:
- Having alcohol withdrawal symptoms that can include depression, restlessness, seizures, and hallucinations
- Drinking when you feel depressed, anxious, or other health concerns
- Leaving activities and hobbies you used to enjoy behind
- Alcohol has impacted your job, family, or school. This can include distancing or arguments
- Your time is spent drinking or recovering from drinking
- You often drink more than you originally intended to drink
- You have gotten into dangerous situations because of alcohol use. These can include unsafe sex or driving drunk
- You have found yourself needing to drink more in order to get the same effects you had gotten in the past
Alcohol Use on the Brain and Body
Long-term alcohol use can have a serious impact on your brain and your body. Even if you believe that you have a tolerance for alcohol, it is all the more reason to be cautious of the long-term effects that alcohol can have.
Alcohol Use and the Brain
Alcohol impacts the way the brain communicates with the rest of the body. It interferes with the way the brain controls memory, speech, judgment, and balance. This results in a higher chance of injuries while intoxicated. Over time, the brain’s neurons can be altered or reduced in size. Overuse of alcohol can create blackouts where people have gaps in their memory from when they were drinking. These memories might be blocked from either the short-term or long-term storage in the hippocampus. It can also lead to a stroke or dementia. One’s mental health is also impacted. With long-term alcohol use, people can develop depression and anxiety. In adolescents, alcohol use can result in altered brain development with changes in structure and function.
The biggest danger that alcohol use can have on the brain is that it can shut down areas of the brain that control life-support functions. These include breathing and heart rate. This results in an alcohol overdose, often called alcohol poisoning, which is a medical emergency. Other symptoms associated with an alcohol overdose include: clammy skin, no responses, and low body temperature. If an alcohol overdose is left untreated, it can result in permanent brain damage or death.
Alcohol Use and the Body
Long-term alcohol use can also impact several areas of the body. This includes the heart, causing diseases such as high blood pressure and heart disease. It can also lead to liver disease or digestive concerns. Your body’s immune system will also weaken when it comes to long-term alcohol use. Many cancers can also develop including breast, mouth, liver, and colon. Participating in binge drinking can result in injuries from falls or burns. It can also result in unprotected sex or multiple sex partners, which can result in sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV or unintended pregnancy. For pregnant women, if they continue to participate in regular alcohol use, it can result in a miscarriage, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, or stillbirth.
How Common Is Alcohol Use Disorder?
In the United States, 29.5 million people over the age of 12 were diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder in 2021. When this number is broken down, 16.6 million males and 13 million females were reported with an alcohol use disorder. When it comes to how alcohol impacts the body, 47.4% of liver disease deaths involve alcohol. 50.2% of males were diagnosed with liver disease and having an alcohol use disorder, while 42.8% were females. 1 in 3 liver transplants are the result of a liver disease that is associated with alcohol. Also, 5.6% of cancer cases in the United States involve alcohol consumption.
Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment
Alcohol use disorder is treatable and recovery is possible for you or your loved one. Treatment typically starts with an alcohol detox, which is recommended to be done under medical supervision. While many withdrawal symptoms do not have complications on their own, severe symptoms such as seizures can occur. Intense cravings can lead to a return to use, however, undergoing treatment can be helpful in receiving comfort and safety while learning skills and techniques that are useful in preventing a return to use.
Pacific Sands helps you take the first step towards a new life in Santa Ana, CA. Our facility is great for those who have mobility concerns allowing them to be able to move around easily in the facility. For more information about alcohol use disorder and our treatment options, call us today at 949-426-7962.
FAQs About Signs of Alcoholism
What are the symptoms of alcoholism?
Symptoms of alcohol use disorder can include intense cravings, not being able to stop drinking once you start, irritability, and giving up on activities or hobbies that were once important to you.
Are alcoholic treatment options covered by my insurance company?
There are many facilities that accept a range of insurance options for alcohol use disorder treatment. However, at Pacific Sands, we use a self pay model for the most part.
What are the warning signs that a loved one might be drinking too much?
There are several warning signs that a loved one might indicate they have an alcohol use disorder. One of those signs is that they are distancing themselves from you. They might also not be able to stop using alcohol once they have started. They could also show signs of depression or anxiety. Others might leave behind activities or hobbies that they once had an interest in.