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Alcohol Use Disorder: What It Is, Risks & Treatment

Drinking too much alcohol may lead to a tingling sensation or numbness in your legs, feet, or hands, known as alcoholic neuropathy. This is one of the most common side effects of long-term alcohol consumption. Additionally, heavy drinkers usually get most of their calories from alcohol. The problem is that alcohol is a wellspring of empty calories—which are calories with minimal nutritional value.

Secret drinking occurs when the user drinks in the early hours of the morning, outside the house, or alone. In fact, according to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 85.6 percent of people ages 18 and older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime. If an individual has experienced at sober house least 2 of the 11 symptoms provided by DSM-5 clinicians, then that person has an alcohol use disorder [1]. It’s important to understand that no two individuals will undergo alcohol abuse in the same way. The set of 11 factors helps the DSM-5 clinicians be guided in the severity grade of the alcohol use disorder (AUD).


If you drink more alcohol than that, consider cutting back or quitting. It’s a disease of brain function and requires medical and psychological treatments to control it. Most people will have a hangover at some point in their lives, and occasionally, it will affect that person’s attendance. Alcohol for stress relief isn’t uncommon, but it is an indicator of an alcohol addiction. If you find that stress in work or life sees you hitting the bottle…well, you know the rest.

signs of alcoholism

As an addiction tends to get worse over time, it’s important to look for early warning signs. If identified and treated early, someone with an alcohol addiction may be able to avoid major consequences of the disease. Find support for yourself and other family members in a rehab family program. Go to an Al-Anon or Alateen meeting or set up an appointment with a mental health professional. At the end of the day, the person with addiction has to be willing to accept help.

Unsure where to start? Take Our Substance Abuse Self-Assessment

If you suspect a loved one is abusing alcohol, it’s important to look out for tell-tale signs. Some of the signs of alcoholism are obvious, while others are subtle. Take a look at many common ones below and consider whether any apply to your loved one. If so, it may be time to have a conversation about treatment options. Genetic, psychological, social and environmental factors can impact how drinking alcohol affects your body and behavior.

What is harmful drinking?

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence ( NICE ) defines harmful drinking as a pattern of alcohol consumption that causes health problems, including psychological problems such as depression, alcohol-related accidents or physical illness such as acute pancreatitis.

If you’re drinking to cope with difficulties in life, it’s a red flag that you’re on the road to dependence. Alcoholics have trouble controlling their drinking because they experience strong cravings that are difficult to ignore. They spend most of their time thinking about getting drunk and find it hard to concentrate on anything else. In some cases, those dependent on alcohol will sneak sips throughout the day or find ways to disguise their drinking. Since alcohol causes changes in the brain related to memory, reward and behavior, these cravings persist despite the negative consequences.

Potential Predictors of Alcohol Use Disorders

Alcohol can deprive you of the energy and mental focus you need to go through the following day. You may also feel sluggish, groggy, and easily irritable, mainly due to disrupted sleep or low blood sugar levels. If you’ve ever had to nurse a hangover, nausea and vomiting are commonly part and parcel of the ordeal.

How does an alcoholic behave?

Neglecting responsibilities, such as missing work and forgetting childcare duties. Neglecting their personal appearance and hygiene. Engaging in behaviours that are irresponsible, unsafe or illegal. Finding excuses to drink, which can range from being stressed to wanting to celebrate.

Hence, drinking alcohol makes it harder for your immune system to gear up and mount a defense response against invading pathogens and viruses. As a result, you may find yourself catching colds and infections more often. According to the CDC, moderate drinking is defined as having two standard drinks or less per day for men and one drink or less per day for women. Connect with a licensed therapist for porn addiction and mental health counseling.