What are the main symptoms and signs of alcoholism?

Your complete guide to consequences and recovery 

Finding specific signs and symptoms that you are having trouble with your alcohol use is part of recognising alcohol dependence. Some key indicators are:

Cravings: Wanting to drink alcohol very much and often not being able to stop yourself.

Loss of control: Drinking more or longer than planned and having a hard time stopping once you start.

Physical dependence: Experiencing withdrawal symptoms like shaking, sweating, feeling sick, and being anxious when you don’t drink.

Increased tolerance: You need to drink more alcohol to get the same effects that you used to get from drinking less.

Neglecting responsibilities: Not doing important things at work, school, or home because you’re drunk.

Continued use despite associated problems: Continuing to drink even though it’s getting you into trouble with the law, health, finances, or your relationships.

Sacrificing social and fun activities: Giving up or cutting back on social and recreational activities to drink.

Risky drinking: Consuming alcohol in situations where it is physically unsafe to do so, like when you are driving or operating heavy machinery.

Alcohol focus: Spending a lot of time getting alcohol, drinking it, covering up, and getting over its effects.

These signs indicate that your drinking may be a problem that needs to be dealt with. If you or someone you know is showing signs of alcoholism, you should get professional help to get evaluated and help choose the best treatment options.

How alcoholism affects your physical health 

Alcohol dependence can have serious effects on many parts of your health, causing significant and sometimes permanent harm. Here is an in-depth look at the impact:

Damage to Organs:

When you drink a lot, their livers are especially at risk for getting diseases like fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis.

For the heart, drinking too much can cause high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias, and strokes.

Moreover, when you drink heavily, your pancreas makes harmful chemicals that can eventually cause pancreatitis, which is an inflammatory and swollen condition of the pancreatic blood vessels that makes digestion difficult.

Problems with metabolism:

If your body can’t control your glucose and lipid levels correctly, you are more likely to get diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

Compromised immune system:

When you drink alcohol regularly, your immune system gets weaker. This makes you more likely to get sick more often, including serious infections like pneumonia and tuberculosis.

Effects on the brain:

Brain changes caused by alcohol can make it hard to remember things, make decisions, and coordinate movements. Long-term effects include the chance of getting dementia and other types of mental decline.

Not getting enough nutrients:

Alcohol dependence can make you not eat well, which can leave you short on essential nutrients like B vitamins. This can lead to health problems like anemia and peripheral neuropathy.

Problems with the intestines:

The digestive tract can get irritated by alcohol, which can lead to problems like ulcers and gastritis. It also makes you more likely to get some types of cancer, like those in the mouth, oesophagus, throat, liver, and breast.

Density of bones:

Too much drinking can stop bones from growing and healing properly, which weakens bones and makes them more likely to break.

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How alcoholism affects your mental health

Even though mental and physical health aren’t the same, they affect each other significantly. For example, alcohol dependence often happens along with mental health problems like depression and anxiety, which can make the physical health outcomes even worse.

People who are dependent on alcohol for a long time are more likely to get the diseases listed above, which can shorten their lives. The effects of alcohol on the body over time can lead to a big drop in health, a lower quality of life, and a higher death rate.

Many people get better health and lower their risk of getting more health problems after they stop drinking and go through recovery. However, some damage may be permanent, especially to organs like the brain and liver. People who are struggling with alcoholism need to get professional help to deal with their condition and lessen the damage it does to their health.

Alcoholism has a wide range of negative effects on a person’s mental and emotional health, affecting every part of their life. This is a list of the psychological effects:

Mood Disorders: 

Mood disorders like depression and bipolar disorder are strongly linked to alcohol dependence. These conditions can get worse when you drink alcohol, which makes them harder to control and treat.


A lot of people drink to deal with their anxiety, but they don’t realise that long-term drinking can make their anxiety worse. This leads to a cycle of drinking to deal with stress, which makes their anxiety worse.

Cognitive Impairments:

 Heavy drinking over a long time can make it hard to remember things, learn new things, and pay attention. Over time, this can lead to a significant drop in brain function and may even raise the risk of getting dementia.

Changes in Personality: 

Being dependent on alcohol can cause personality changes that are easy to see, such as becoming more irritable or angry or acting more introverted or outgoing than usual.

Problems with thinking and feeling: 

Heavy drinking can cause alcohol-related psychosis in some people, which includes delusions and hallucinations.

How alcohol affects you socially

Alcoholism can hurt your social relationships, causing you to become alone, have problems with your family or spouse, and lose friends, all of which can make your depression and feelings of loneliness worse.

Many people who are dependent on alcohol develop low self-esteem. This is often because their drinking makes other parts of their lives worse.

People who are addicted to alcohol often have a dual diagnosis, which means they are dealing with both addiction and another mental health disorder. This makes treatment more difficult because both conditions need to be dealt with at the same time.

Feelings of hopelessness and despair that come with alcoholism make suicidal thoughts and attempts more likely, especially if mental health problems are going on underneath.

Therapy, support groups, medication, and changes to one’s lifestyle are all critical parts of a successful recovery plan. The goal is not only to control alcoholism but also to improve mental and emotional health in general.

What are the best ways to recover from alcoholism? 

Beginning the process of recovering from alcoholism is a big step towards taking back control of your life. Here are some effective steps you can take to start this journey:

Acknowledgment and Decision: 

The first step is to be honest about the problem and decide that you need help. Understanding that your drinking is hurting your life is very important for keeping you motivated during the recovery process.

Get Professional Help: 

Talk to doctors and therapists who specialise in addiction. They can determine how dependent you are, suggest treatment options, and help you determine the best way to move forward. Treatment options could include drug detox, therapy, support groups, and medication.

Detoxification under medical supervision is the first step towards getting better. This helps people deal with their withdrawal symptoms in a safe place, which lowers their risk of relapse during the acute withdrawal phase. Services for home detoxification are also available, which is convenient, safe, and comfortable.

The psychological issues that lead to alcoholism can be dealt with through individual or group therapy. Many people have found that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing, and family therapy work. This should ideally be started soon after detox and is also available remotely, saving you the trouble of travelling and waiting in clinics. 

Joining a support group like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or another community support group can help you deal with your feelings, hold you accountable, and give you hope from people who know how hard it is to get better.

It’s important to make lifestyle changes that are good for you. Some of these things are eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and making friends who can support you. Staying away from things that make you anxious or stressed out and learning new ways to deal with them can also help the recovery process.

Getting over an alcohol addiction is a process that never ends. To stay sober, it’s important to keep track of your progress, figure out what might set you off, and make a plan to avoid relapse. Enrol for a therapy service that provides ongoing support.

Patience is key

The road to recovery is not easy, and there will be setbacks. For long-term success, it’s essential to be kind to yourself, celebrate small wins, and be patient with yourself.

It takes courage and dedication to start recovery, but it’s a massive step towards a healthier and more fulfilling life. Remember that recovery is a personal process, and what works for one person might not work for another. Because of this, it’s very important to find a method that fits your specific needs.

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If you or your loved one is struggling with alcoholism, call Freephone at  0800 140 4044

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