Around 14 million adults in the US suffer from alcohol use disorder (AUD). If you worry that you might drink too much or sometimes ask yourself, “Am I an alcoholic?”—see how to spot alcoholism, what an alcohol use disorder is, and the warning signs of problem drinking below. Then, take the alcohol use quiz to learn more.
How to Define Alcoholism and Alcohol Use Disorder: What’s the Difference?
Alcoholics are severely dependent on alcohol to regulate their moods and give them a sense of satisfaction with living. They suffer significant mental health and physical problems as a result. But, the term “alcoholic” is not recognized by medical professionals and treatment specialists.
Instead, “alcohol use disorder” and alcohol dependence are used by addiction professionals to diagnose and treat the condition of alcoholism. And, the best medical approach to addiction treatment classified alcohol use disorder into groups of mild, moderate, and high dependence.
To be diagnosed, you must show some of the 11 symptoms outlined by clinicians’ Diagnostic and Statistics Manual (DSM-V). If your symptoms have appeared in the last 12 months, it will indicate whether and how severely you suffer from alcoholism.
Heavy Drinking vs. Binge Drinking: Do They Make You an Alcoholic?
Professionals define two kinds of excessive drinking in identifying and treating alcohol use:
- Heavy drinking describes how much you might drink during a one-week period. Two drinking per day (or more than 14 drinks per week) makes a heavy drinker for men under 65. Over the age of 65, men drinking once per day (or more than seven drinks per week) make a heavy drinker.
- Binge drinking describes how much you might drink within a few hours. Drinking five or more drinks within two hours will define a man as a binge drinker. Women consume four or more drinks in the same period to be considered binge drinkers.
Sometimes excessive drinkers—like heavy drinkers and binge drinkers—suffer from alcohol use disorder, but not all. When excessive drinkers decide to quit, they quickly improve their lives, feel more energy, and have better relationships.
Unlike this, someone with alcohol use disorder can’t stop drinking easily, and they quickly relapse into the destructive habit. Excessive drinkers may not have an emotional, psychological, and physical dependency on alcohol as those with true alcoholism do.
Signs of Alcohol Use Disorder: What are the Signs of Alcoholism?
Society promotes drinking at many levels. It can be challenging to understand if drinking is a problem in your life because of constant encouragement to consume. But, if you wonder, “Am I becoming an alcoholic,” watch for these warning signs and symptoms of alcoholism:
- Drinking despite person, professional, and medical problems
- Experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms
- Losing interest in non-drinking activities
- Putting drinking before responsibilities
- Losing control of how much you drink
- Having irritable moods and mood swings
- Being unable to stop drinking
- Having cravings for alcohol
- Doing secret or morning drinking
- Feeling guilty about drinking
Alcohol use disorder varies among individuals, but these warning signs are common among those who suffer from the condition. If you see these signs, seek help for the alcohol use disorder by reaching out to a professional.
To compare your drinking patterns to well-known criteria for alcoholism, try our “‘Am I an Alcoholic?’ Quiz,” which can help you see how revenant these signs are in your life. It may indicate whether your relationship with alcohol requires a closer look.
Behavioral, Physical, and Withdrawal Symptoms of Alcoholism
Alcohol use disorder can develop slowly, sneaking up on those who don’t suspect an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Rather than the occasional drink, alcoholics find themselves gripped by withdrawal symptoms, day drinking, and binges.
Take a look at these symptoms of alcoholism that show in people’s behavioral, mental, and physical health. See if you might have an alcohol use disorder or if someone near you likely suffers from alcoholism.
Behavioral Symptoms of AUD
- Drinking by yourself
- Neglecting hygiene
- Being defensive about drinking
- Tolerating high amounts of alcohol intake
- Putting off work or school for drinking
- Having poor eating habits
- Finding excuses to drink
- Reducing non-drinking activities
- Losing control of drinking patterns
- Drinking despite work, social, and legal issues
Physical Symptoms of AUD
- Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal (nausea, shaking, vomiting, etc.)
- Having cravings for alcohol
- Losing memory after drinking or blacking out
- Feeling tremors and shaking after drinking
- Developing disease or illness (cirrhosis, alcohol ketoacidosis, etc.)
Withdrawal Symptoms of AUD
- Anxiety and insomnia
- Shakiness and nausea
- Vomiting and headaches
- Racing heartbeat and heavy sweating
- High blood pressure and fever
- Seizures and hallucinations
Short-Term and Long-Term Risks of Alcohol Use Disorder (or Alcoholism)
In the short term, alcohol use disorder causes severe consequences for individuals, families, and the community. Alcoholism brings serious risks to your health, wellness, and even the lives of those nearest you:
- Accidents and injuries (car crashes, drownings, burns, falls, etc.)
- Violence and domestic assault
- Alcohol poisoning
- Miscarriages, stillbirths, and fetal alcohol disorders
- Unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease
An active alcoholic also bears long-term risks that affect nearly every bodily organ and function. If they don’t stop drinking, they face many complications:
- Cancers of the liver, throat, colon, breast, esophagus, and mouth
- High blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, and stroke
- Weakened immune system, opening the body to illness and infection
- Persistent problems at work, home, and within personal relationships
- Mental health struggles with anxiety, depression, and mood
- Declining performance with memory, learning, and school
The enormous problems alcoholism and alcohol use disorder causes in the lives of millions of people in the US is staggering. Understanding whether or not you could endure some of these risks begins when you take the alcohol quiz.
You’ll learn about the many signs that show when diagnosed with alcohol use disorder from a professional. Explore the different kinds of alcoholics recognized in addiction treatment approaches below.
Alcohol Use Disorder Categories: What are the Five Kinds of Alcoholism?
Treatment specialists and addiction professionals group people’s experiences of alcoholism into groups to make treatment more personal and practical. After you answer the alcoholic survey, see how these different experiences might resonate with your relationship with drinking.
Young Adult Alcoholism
Young adult alcoholics make up 30% of all those addicted to alcohol in the US. These drinkers consume alcohol less frequently and can come from families that don’t necessarily have a history of alcoholism. But, they tend to engage in binge drinking with disastrous effects.
Young drinkers with AUD sometimes have a co-occurring diagnosis such as antisocial personality disorder. They show impulsiveness, deceitfulness, and lack of responsibility when it comes to drinking and beyond. Overall, their drinking and lifestyle show little regard for legal, safety, or other consequences.
Functional alcoholism defies the usual stereotypes of the alcoholic in society. Many are in denial about their drinking, come from solid families, and hold good jobs with a level of success. Nevertheless, 20% of people with AUD in the US are functional alcoholics.
Immediate Family Alcoholism
Many people come from families with generational alcoholism. While they typically hold down decent jobs, they also experience crushing depression in many instances. They struggle to cope with their persistent sense of despair by turning to alcohol.
Chronic Severe Alcoholism
The chronic and severe alcoholic is the rarest. They began drinking at a young age and have dependencies or addictions to other substances. Usually, they also endure psychiatric or mental health disorders that make treatment particularly necessary. 75% of them have a family history with alcohol as well.
Get Proper Treatment for Alcoholism and Alcohol Use Disorder
The best treatment plan for alcoholism is specifically designed for you. Indiana Center for Recovery offers all the evidence-based options you’ll need to make a full recovery. Depending on the individual, effective alcoholism treatment involves detox courses, residential stays, outpatient programs, and often group or individual counseling.
Contact Indiana Center for Recovery at (844) 650-0064 to discover your next step on a recovery journey. Improve your quality of life, give you freedom from alcohol, and help you heal from the trauma of addiction.
Let’s get you or a loved one help with a few simple steps.