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What are the Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism?

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

As nearly 25 million people are dealing with serious addiction issues, various addictive substances and behaviors have different characteristics. When looking for the symptoms of alcoholism, you need to monitor a variety of ways that alcoholism can affect the life of the person you’re counseling. As a counselor, you’ll find patterns of behavior and descriptions of behavior that will start to seem typical of people suffering from various addictions.

Here are five things to look for when you’re trying to diagnose problems with alcohol addiction.

1. Physical Signs

When you’re looking for signs of alcoholism, the most apparent ones are physical. Some are directly related to alcoholism, and others that are a side effect of any kind of substance abuse.

Not all of these physical signs mean alcohol use, but here are many of the signs:

  • You’ll notice that alcoholics might often seem rosy-cheeked, and their eyes will dart around a bit confusedly.
  • When someone struggles with alcoholism, the signs will appear on their face via burst blood vessels in their nose or around their eyes.
  • People with particularly dry, irritated-looking, or bright red skin could be dealing with alcoholism.
  • If someone is comfortably disheveled or seems unworried about looking sloppy, with bad breath or slurred speech, they might be an alcoholic.
  • If you notice they smell like alcohol and don’t look like they intended to be so unkempt, you might look at an alcoholic.
  • You can also look for signs of abuse via injuries, cuts, bruises, or more serious injuries.
  • People who fall into serious alcoholism can slip and fall just going down the stairs or end up in serious vehicular accidents.

2. Social Signs

There are social signs of alcoholism that you can look for as a counselor. People dealing with alcoholism can end up with ruined friendships, family relationships, or disconnections with romantic partners. They may do so intentionally or unintentionally, depending upon how much control they have over their addiction.

When you’re sitting down with someone dealing with alcoholism versus drug abuse, you’ll find that they might appear put together. They might speak clearly and intelligently. Alcohol addiction is maintainable for some people because they could keep their job or stay out of trouble with the law while things slowly crumble.

You might find that they speak about people they love and who love them with contempt. When they blame their problems on other people, but you suspect much of it has to do with alcohol, you might find them struggling with addiction.

If they constantly fight with their partner, have struggled to raise their children, or fight with their close family members, ask about their alcohol consumption. Many people might not realize that they cannot enjoy life or have fun without drinking or being drunk. If they can’t go to a gathering or support a friend without being drunk, there may be dealing with addiction.

3. Emotional Signs

Alcohol is a depressant, and while you might find that you’re not sure what drug your patient is dealing with, this could help you pinpoint the source of the problem. People on other drugs might feel good when using them. They might have a spring in their step even when on the most troublesome substances.

However, alcohol may tend to bring dark people down a darker path. They could have wild and uncontrollable mood swings, burst into tears, or become enraged easily. If you find that the person you’re counseling seems unpredictable, they could be dealing with alcoholism.

These emotional signs can be exacerbated if someone goes through withdrawal or suffers a hangover. There could be a sense of hopelessness that underscores everything they say. They might list regrets that seemingly come from nowhere and become inconsolable.

It is the counselor’s role to help them deal with the substance issues and the emotional problems that come as a result.

4. Signs At Work

If someone has a problem with alcohol, they will often struggle with being productive at their workplace. When things get serious, they might even show up to work drunk.

This could be the beginning of their addiction tipping out of their control. If they show up to work drunk, they could say things they regret or upset their coworkers.

Depending on the kind of job they have, a drunk worker could put people’s lives at risk. When working on a construction site, at a warehouse, or in the medical industry, being intoxicated is extremely dangerous for everyone.

If there are clear signs that this addiction has affected their work, they need to be helped before they destroy their career.

5. Problems With The Law

Many people with alcoholism have had run-ins with the law. These incidents can vary from domestic disturbances to drunk driving. While some people get a DUI in their youth and learn a very dark lesson quickly, others will try to get away with it for years.

Alcohol affects everyone differently and while some people become more sentimental, others become withdrawn. Some people will allow their addiction to control their body and mind and could fly into a fit of unpredictable behavior.

If counselors are struggling to determine what their patients are dealing with, a trail of legal trouble can help them figure out what’s going on. A pattern of behavior that fits the bill could include dangerous behavior that’s come as a result of the lowered inhibitions of alcoholism.

Symptoms of Alcoholism Can Appear Differently

Depending on the person suffering the issue, symptoms of alcoholism will look different on a case-by-case basis. Some people will fall into a deep depression due to decisions made while drinking, while others will avoid serious conversation. Many people will avoid having difficult conversations altogether and opt instead to find ways to get away, get drunk, and escape.

Here are some opportunities and tips for those in recovery, from our latest no-cost video guide to finding a career path that gives back.

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