What is alcoholism?
For many individuals, alcohol abuse is a daily battle. Known as alcoholism or “alcohol use disorder” (AUD), this struggle involves a person’s inability to control alcohol consumption.
A person who battles with alcohol abuse frequently experiences an inability to function without alcohol. While this feeling is common to many users, AUD falls into three categories: mild, moderate, and severe. Regardless of where an individual lands, grappling with alcoholism can feel like a zero-sum game.
What are the warning signs?
The symptoms of AUD do not always surface immediately, making detection difficult. However, warning signs do exist, and they frequently co-occur. As symptoms crop up together, they can compound and exacerbate substance abuse concerns.
There are several warning signs that can help identify victims of AUD. These symptoms include, but are not limited to:
Extreme mood swings
Resorting to excuses for drinking, including the need to relax, feel normal, or manage stress
Alienating friends and family.
Prioritizing drinking over daily responsibilities
Drinking alone or in secrecy
Even if a drinking problem seems minor, seeking help immediately can result in an easier road to recovery. Many resources exist to aid individuals struggling with AUD.
How can an individual recognize AUD?
Although paying attention to warning signs helps identify potential AUD, professional medical organizations have developed a number of methods to help individuals detect alcoholism, including the CAGE method, MAST, and AUDIT. Because it is a simple questionnaire, many therapists utilize the CAGE method as a starting point. Questions in this test include:
Have you experienced the need to reduce your drinking?
Have others irritated you by questioning your drinking habits?
Have you ever felt guilty about drinking?
Have you ever felt the need to drink immediately in the morning to steady nerves or subdue a hangover?
Answering “yes” to two or more of these questions may indicate a need to seek professional medical treatment.
What are the health effects of AUD?
Alcoholism presents a variety of short-term and long-term side-effects. While these may vary by person, there are several common ones. Some frequently reported short-term side-effects include:
Loss of motor function
Slowed reaction time
Chronic alcohol abuse can result in:
Irregular heart rate
Potential brain damage
In order to avoid these debilitating effects, immediate medical help should be sought. Many professional services offer their services free of charge.