Alcoholism Center

Alcohol Abuse Symptoms

Although different people consume alcohol at varying quantities, the basic pattern is the same. Generally, drinking becomes more important than anything else in life... including job, friends and family. Alcohol starts to increasingly affecting people at a physical and emotional level. Judgment impairment usually reaches dangerous levels; to the person as well as to others.

Alcohol usually lowers a person's inhibition. It can severely affect a person's ability to exercise best judgment. People who continue to drink excessively soon experience impaired speech and muscle coordination.

Behavioral signs of alcohol abuse

  • avoiding activities that do not involve the opportunity to drink
  • dangerous situations like driving drunk, walking in an unsafe area
  • difficulty making commitments
  • excessive weeping and emotional displays
  • increased irritability, agitation and anger, lowered or increased thresholds for violence
  • oversleeping or difficulty sleeping
  • unable to control drinking
  • unexplained absences and sick days from work

Physical signs of alcohol abuse

  • blackouts (passing out accompanied by varying degrees of amnesia)
  • numbness or tingling in hands and feet
  • redness in the face or cheeks
  • unexplained sore or upset stomach
  • weight loss

Signs of intoxication

  • clumsiness
  • dizziness
  • slurred speech
  • unsteadiness

Too much alcohol can also

  • cause a severe drop in blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) leading to seizures and/or death
  • cause severe dehydration leading to seizures, brain damage, and/or death
  • cause suffocation by vomit once the gag reflex fails
  • reduce the body temperature to the point of death (hypothermia)
  • slow the heart rate to the point of death

Though moderate alcohol intake of certain wines (usually one glass a day) seem to have some reported health benefits for the cardiovascular system, anything more than moderate drinking can negate any potential benefits. Below are some of other complications that can be caused by too much drinking:

  • birth defects such as fetal alcohol syndrome
  • bone loss
  • cancer risk
  • cirrhosis of the liver
  • cardiovascular problems
  • diabetes complications
  • gastrointestinal disorders
  • liver problems(hepatitis, liver enlargement, cirrhosis)
  • miscarriage
  • neurological complications
  • pancreatitis
  • problems with sexual performance
  • suicide

When drinking becomes excessive, people will usually experience fatigue, memory-loss, and over all body weakness. Eye muscles can become paralyzed.

In extreme cases, excessive drinking can eventually lead to a person being in a coma and /or eventually, to death. Excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to domestic violence.

When to seek help
People are strongly encouraged to consult a doctor when they notice that an individual has a drinking problem, acknowledged or not. Additionally, the point at which alcohol poisoning occurs varies from person to person. This is usually based upon respective tolerance levels. Seek emergency help if a person demonstrates symptoms associated with alcohol poisoning. These can include:

  • coughing up blood
  • gasping for breath
  • passing out
  • seizures
  • vomiting

Call a doctor as soon as possible if someone who abuses alcohol:

  • agrees to be seen for possible treatment. Call immediately as because people who usually agree to get help often do not follow through with making the appointment
  • continues to drink alcohol in spite of having poor health
  • has delirium tremors
  • has severe stomach pain
  • has stopped drinking but starts drinking again (has a relapse)
  • has to drink more to get the same effect
  • has withdrawal symptoms, such as confusion and trembling
  • is too sick to seek help
  • is thinking or talking about suicide or harming others
  • refuses to admit to an alcohol problem
  • starts seeing or hearing things that aren't there (hallucinations)

When people believe that they are experiencing symptoms associated with alcohol abuse, it is recommended that they seek medical attention. The sooner people acknowledge and that they may have a problem with alcohol, the sooner they can begin treatment. Also, by seeing a doctor, people will be able to determine if you abuse alcohol. For information on how doctors diagnose alcohol abuse, read the section that follows.

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