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What Are The Symptoms of Alcoholism?

When we talk about people with “drinking problems,” we can be referring to either alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence (alcoholism). Both are what might be referred to as “problem drinking,” but are in fact different in other ways, sometimes significantly so.

Alcoholism is a condition in which the alcoholic has is physically addicted to alcohol and continues to drink in spite of the related issues or “fallout” from drinking, from health to employment to relationships to reputation. Alcohol abuse shares many of the same symptoms as alcohol dependence, but without the aspect of physical addiction.

Here is a checklist for yourself or for someone in your life to use in determining whether alcoholism (actual physical dependence on alcohol) could be an issue in your life. How many of these statements would you or they say describe something going for you right now?:

  • You often drink more than you wanted or planned to.
  • Once you start drinking, you feel that you lose control over the amount and time of drinking involved.
  • Sometimes you think you’d like to quit drinking, but you can’t.
  • Alcohol comes first, sometimes and maybe even often before other commitments, hobbies and/or people.
  • You find yourself spending a lot of time thinking about alcohol when you are not under its influence.
  • You have felt shame or guilt about your drinking habits and experiences.
  • Regular responsibilities at work, school or home, for instance, have fallen out of priority or seem to fall by the wayside.
  • Friends, colleagues or family members have discussed the possibility of you having a “drinking problem.”
  • You tell stories and sometimes outright lie to yourself and others about the extent of your need and desire for alcohol.
  • I often drink alcohol alone and/or cannot be in a social situation without drinking alcohol.
  • You are drinking or feeling the effects of drinking more than not.
  • You are unable to relax or let loose without drinking.
  • You have blacked out as a direct result of drinking alcohol.
  • You acknowledge that drinking is affecting your life in negative ways (perhaps in your relationships, your job, your physical health but you continue to drink, sometimes more than before.
  • You have driven under the influence of alcohol and/or you have experienced legal issues related to drinking and driving.
  • The only way to feel better when in the throes of a hangover is to drink more.

In addition to these signs, there are other alcohol-related symptoms that commonly include:
• Shakiness
• Trembles
• Anxiety
• Sweating, often profusely
• Nausea, with or without vomiting
• Irritability
• Fatigue
• Headaches
• Lethargy
• Loss of appetite
• Depression

In severe cases of alcoholism and alcohol withdrawal, symptoms can also include hallucinations or seizures.

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