January 17, 2023
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Spotting The Physical Signs Of Alcoholism

The physical signs of alcoholism are not quite how Hollywood portrays them. Not all people with a drinking problem are on a park bench, swigging cheap vodka from a brown paper bag.

Do you know what the signs to look for are?

Could you spot alcohol addiction in a loved one or your own behavior?

Let’s dig a little deeper in today’s blog post:

The term “alcohol addiction” is an overused phrase. It describes someone who can’t control the amount or frequency of their drinking. However, most professionals don’t use this phrase anymore; it’s too broad.

Nearly 8% percent of United States adults, roughly 18 million individuals, had a diagnosable alcohol use disorder.

Males have alcohol use disorders nearly twice as frequently as women. Of the estimated 18 million impacted adults, 12.2 million were males, and 5.7 million were females.

signs of alcoholism
signs of alcoholism

Teenagers are not exempt.

In recent years, approximately 855,000 youths between 12 and 17 have struggled with alcohol addiction.

Alcoholism is different for everyone, so doctors use a checklist of symptoms called the DSM-5 manual; catchy.

They use this checklist to identify an alcohol use disorder and its intensity level. Simply put, if an individual has experienced a minimum of 2 of the 11 variables in the past year. This would suggest the individual has an alcohol use disorder.

The presence of 2 or 3 boxes checked means there is a low-level alcohol use disorder. While 4 to 5 signs are labeled medium/moderate, and six or more are considered severe.

Worried about your own drinking?

Consider just four of the indicators and compare the statements to your drinking:

  1. Intrusion with work, college, home, and other obligations due to alcohol use
  2. Carrying on drinking alcohol despite the adverse effect it is having on one’s relationships
  3. Participating in high-risk conduct after drinking alcohol, like fighting, driving a car, going for a swim, having unsafe sex, or operating heavy equipment
  4. Gradually, needing more alcohol to attain the desired envigorating impacts.

In general, the 11 variables deal with both the physical and emotional elements of alcohol use disorder.

The difference between physical dependency and emotional dependency is essential to understand. Physical reliance on alcohol is a sign that the body needs the drug, but you do not want it.

Simply put, an individual may be physically dependent on drinking or another substance of misuse. Without being emotionally dependent on it.

i am not a problem drinker 2
i am not a problem drinker 2

There are a couple of primary hallmarks of physical addiction.

Alcohol is poison, and the body learns to survive despite it. As tolerance grows, an individual who drinks alcohol will demand a more significant amount to get the same ‘buzz’.

Furthermore, you will experience withdrawal if consumption stops suddenly. Or if there is a considerable decrease in the regular quantity being used.

Often people drink purely to avoid the painful sensation of withdrawal.

People with alcohol use disorders will probably encounter the signs of physical addiction and emotional impacts.

Withdrawal symptoms include:

The emotional element of dependency does not relate to the impact drinking has on someone’s frame of mind.

For instance, making bad choices and doing stupid things. Instead, it pertains to how the individual’s ideas and responses are tailored toward getting alcohol and consuming it. This happens even except for essential obligations and duties.

alcohol addiction symptoms
alcohol addiction symptoms

The Physical Signs Of Alcoholism: Stage 1

Regarding the DSM-5, a brand-new patient might present up to 2 of the 11 symptoms. The problem is we don’t get any warning that our social drinking will end in problem drinking. All people drinking alcohol are essentially playing a form of Russian Roulette.

In the early stages of alcoholic abuse, an individual will typically get an intro to various kinds of alcohol and explore drinking in several forms.

A lot of Stop Drinking Expert clients claim they have tried many drinks over the years, but most end up with Vodka. Why? Because it gets the job done quickly!

Usually, these exploring folks are either college students or adolescents, such as university students.

Alcohol consumption is usually a key element in establishing social standing with this young group. Therefore, they binge drink to be accepted by the group. They might not be frequent drinkers, but binge alcohol consumption by itself still puts them in danger of establishing an alcohol use disorder.

binge drinker
binge drinker

Binge Drinking

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Binge drinking occurs when, within a couple of hours, an individual gets to a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or greater.

  • Depending on body mass, females typically need 4 alcoholic beverages.
  • In males, it requires five alcoholic beverages in 2 hours.

Nevertheless, many binge drinkers will go over the 4 or 5-drink mark and experience greater levels of BAC in addition to many incapacitating physical and adverse psychological effects.

Not everyone that experiments with alcohol in college will end up having a problem with alcohol. People who do continue to consume alcohol heavily or regularly might do this because they are environmentally or genetically inclined to do so.

Children of Alcoholics

For example, if you grew up with an alcoholic parent you are at a much more significant risk of drinking problems. Even more, analysis indicates that specific aspects of a youngster’s home life can lead them to alcoholism.

For example, observing a mom or dad misuse alcohol or other drugs. Or having been subjected to a parent’s anxiety or alcohol-fueled temper in the family home.

Many drinkers already have health problems that they try to treat with alcohol. They can quickly move from safe drinking to alcohol abuse because it appears to help them cope.

Natural and hereditary aspects apart, the high amount of drinks people use in a given time period can put them in danger of establishing an alcohol use disorder.

  • Women who have a day-to-day consumption of greater than 3 drinks, or greater than 7 weekly, are considered at risk.
  • Men, because of their larger body mass, are in danger if they take part in greater than 4 alcoholic beverages a day or greater than 14 weekly.

The Physical Signs Of Alcoholism: Stage 2

Modest use of alcohol is linked with the regularity of use and intent around drinking alcohol. Individuals with a mental or emotional attachment to alcohol consumption might be at a greater risk for forming an alcohol use disorder.

This is compared to someone who has a glass of wine each evening with their meal.

Typically, alcoholism means not being able to control when, where and how much you drink. Or showing signs that drinking is making life miserable. In such a case, the individual would start to reveal more physical signs of alcoholism.

At this phase, an individual might be physically reliant on drinking, but not always. Simply put, at stage 2 you run the risk of stopping drinking and experiencing some mild withdrawal manifestations.

People start to need alcohol rather than want it, like relying on it to “have a good time,”. By this point, they might form some bad habits around drinking and ultimately cultivate an AUD. If alcoholism sets in, it will likely be harder to quit drinking due to the existence of withdrawal.

Quitting Drinking On Your Own

Most dependency experts admit home detoxification or “going cold turkey” is never recommended. The most reliable strategy would be to chat with a substance addiction therapist or mental health specialist about safer alternatives to detoxifying from drinking.

This does not apply to people who are not physically addicted to alcohol. Nearly 90% of the drinkers who turn to the Stop Drinking Expert online course do not have this issue. They are only problem drinkers, meaning they have got into a bad loop with their drinking and need a little guidance to stop.

symptoms of alcoholism
symptoms of alcoholism

The Physical Signs Of Alcoholism: Stage 3

To be diagnosed with Stage 3 alcoholism, you must meet 6 of the 11 symptoms. Having six or more of the alcohol use disorder signs would suggest the requirement for a serious intervention.

Before talking about the unfavorable results connected with drinking. Such as its potentially destructive consequences on a person’s life. Including bad health, problems in relationships, debt and money problems, and failing at work. Think about the group of problem drinkers referred to as a “high functioning alcoholic.”

All appears normal

A highly functioning individual who misuses alcohol may have the ability to work each day. They can even surpass requirements and satisfy all needed economic responsibilities.

Around twenty percent of people who misuse alcohol might be categorized as high functioning. Continued alcohol consumption, nevertheless, is like a mousetrap. It’s primed and waiting to go off. In regards to the adverse after-effects connected with substantial, heavy drinking.

High-functioning drinkers may look ‘normal,’ but they are not getting away with it.

sticking plaster
sticking plaster

Health Problems

The advancement of health problems is a significant worry for all drinkers. Health problems may vary in intensity. However, the following health problems and illnesses may materialize because of persistent, substantial alcoholism:

Sometimes, alcoholism might intensify problems but not create them outright.

Everything Get’s Worse With Alcohol

In other situations, drinking might be a background reason for an ailment. Then ongoing alcohol use will cause the condition to flare up. For example, alcoholism could be a peripheral source of gout pain and intensify the disorder.

We know that continued heavy drinking causes some particularly nasty conditions. Such as cancer and organ failure.

In the unfortunate event, a severe drinker forms a severe health problem or condition. The patient’s doctor can clarify whether drinking was an explicit trigger or a peripheral reason. The attending doctor may also detail how continued alcohol consumption affects the ailment.

The Physical Signs Of Alcoholism: Stage 4

In the end, alcohol use changes from living to drink to drinking to stay alive.

Now, people have entirely lost their capacity to prevent drinking alcohol. After a long enough duration of heavy drinking. Withdrawal might be so unpleasant that the individual needs to consume alcohol to avoid them constantly.

At this moment, a person might form a major condition, like cirrhosis.  Cirrhosis of the liver arises from many years of liver harm. As people constantly drink alcohol, their liver creates scar tissue rather than fresh healthy cells. In time, the scar tissue in the liver organ blocks blood flow.

The existence of scar tissue also hinders the system’s capacity to cleanse poisons from the bloodstream. It means the liver can’t control diseases, process nutrition, and assimilate cholesterol. Along with severe health conditions and problems.

Individuals in the final phase of alcoholic abuse might start to fall over and hurt themselves often because of balance and control issues.


Usually, when drinkers die after a tumble, it results from bleeding in the brain and not the fall itself. An individual in the end phase of alcoholism abuse is also in danger of deliberate self-harm.

Alcoholics can feel helpless and hopeless at this stage of the disease. Withdrawal, as mentioned, may be agonizing, and the outlook bleak. So, one can understand why some start to consider ending their own life.

sobriety rocks
sobriety rocks

Putting The Brakes On!

The fact that you are here reading about the physical signs of alcoholism means something significant. You are either worried about someone you love or perhaps even yourself.

There is a reason to be optimistic. Alcoholism is a slow killer; there is always an excellent point to quit drinking and give your body half a chance of reversing the damage.

If you are non-functioning and physically addicted to alcohol, you will probably need inpatient medical care. This site is not a replacement for medical advice, so always consult your doctor.

If you believe you are just in a bad loop with your drinking, you may be able to deal with this 100% online. The Stop Drinking ExpertHow To Stop Drinking Course‘ is highly rated and respected worldwide. Over 200,000 people just like you have quit drinking quickly as a result.

About the Stop drinking expert

Dr. Brian Jones Ph. D. is a certified addiction therapist and counselor.

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