The first step in fixing any problem is identifying it. Sometimes people just don’t recognize a problem even if it is staring them in the face.
And so it’s no surprise that people who are abusing alcohol don’t even know that they are doing it. It becomes especially confusing when heavy drinking is associated with parties, social interactions, and being “cool”.
But if you feel that you are on the brink of alcoholism, it is important to know exactly what is going on. You can’t recover from alcoholism on your own, considering all its adverse effects and withdrawal symptoms. Once you are dependent, there’s no turning back—without the help of medical professionals, that is.
If you are an alcoholic, or if you are worried that one of your friends or loved ones are close to becoming one, you are going to benefit from the rest of this guide. Today we will be talking about a very simple topic, but it’s one that can open the minds of many people regarding the issue: what exactly is an alcoholic?
What is an alcoholic other than the drunk, red-faced person that is often portrayed in movies and the media? What does an alcoholic do other than drive under the influence and go on drunken stupors at a club or at a bar (or anywhere else in public)? Most importantly, what is alcoholism like for the person suffering from it?
If you are abusing alcohol and you are slowly becoming dependent, how close are you to becoming a full blown alcoholic? We are going to answer these questions today.
Alcoholism sure is a big problem. But the general public’s attitude and perception toward it is another problem that needs to be addressed. Many people don’t think alcoholism is a disease—that anyone who is an alcoholic could just stop at any given moment. Unfortunately, for most cases, alcoholics can’t just stop drinking whenever they want. That is not how easy it is to fix.
Alcoholism leads to serious health problems on its own, but the fact that it causes several other withdrawal symptoms can really spell trouble especially for those who are trying to recover. It affects relationships and other aspects of the alcoholic’s life. It affects finances, health conditions, social status, and self-image. They spend too much money on alcohol. They get sick. They get judged by their peers. They destroy their own sense of self-worth. All these things happen while an alcoholic rocks back and forth between trying to recover and not caring at all.
An alcoholic is someone who has gone beyond alcohol abuse. They have a physical desire to consume alcohol, even beyond their capacity to control it. It rules over common sense and wisdom. It rules over friendly advice and genuine concern. This is why relationships crumble when someone becomes an alcoholic. This physical compulsion, according to Alcoholics Anonymous UK, comes together with a mental obsession.
An alcoholic knows neither when nor how to stop drinking. If this does not sound like an illness, you have to take a long hard look at how media and society has shaped alcoholism to look cool instead of dangerous.
Alcohol abuse is used to refer to those people who don’t display the characteristics of alcoholism. Still they have a problem controlling their drinking and are actually close to developing a tolerance for alcohol. They are not dependent on alcohol yet. Still, they may already be skipping out on important commitments. They may already be ignoring their responsibilities for the sake of alcohol.
Alcoholism and abuse are often just separated by degree or intensity. Binge drinking and heavy drinking often could quickly lead to alcoholism.
Typically, the addict would be the last person to be aware that they have a problem. There are a few clear signs that indicate that a person is an alcoholic.
When drinking is no longer done socially—particularly when the person likes drinking alone, or in secret, they may be an alcoholic.
If they don’t know the limit to how much alcohol they should consume, and/or if they drink to the point of blacking out, that is a clear indication of alcoholism. They may also start losing interest in hobbies and activities they used to enjoy.
Of course, any brush with the law that is caused by drinking is an indication that the person has lost control over their drinking habits.
An alcoholic will feel more irritable as their usual drinking times approach. And if they have a daily drinking ritual that is interrupted, they will be prone to mood swings and irritability. Work and financial problems are also common for those who are alcoholic.
Knowing all these basic things could help you identify when someone is struggling with alcoholism. This information could hopefully lead to the first step in safe recovery: seeking help and rehabilitation.
Dr. Vikram Tarugu, M.D, is the CEO of Detox of South Florida, Inc and medical professional focused on addiction. A veteran in the medical field with over 25 years of professional experience. He is a consultant for many South Florida Rehab centers. Patients travel from allover the US to seek his help with addiction and Hepatitis C treatment.
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