Alcohol Awareness Month: Is My Loved One An Alcoholic? Signs And Symptoms

By Mark G. McLaughlin

Alcohol addiction is a problem around the globe. The World Health Organization reports that alcoholism is a key risk factor in more than 60 health issues, from cirrhosis of the liver and a number of types of cancer to coronary heart disease. It is also the cause of death or injury in many motor vehicle accidents and incidents of domestic violence, and can lead to such severe depression as to lead an addict to attempt suicide. It is thus not just the individual addict who is afflicted, but also their family, friends, coworkers and even neighbors who may suffer or be at risk. Those who are concerned about the health and well-being of people in their lives should be aware of the warning signs and symptoms that indicate that a loved one may be an alcoholic.

Four Key Factors Behind Alcoholism

While every alcoholic has their individual reasons for turning to drink, according to the researchers at the Passages Malibu Alcohol Rehab Center in California, most become addicted because they are afflicted by one or more of four key factors. These four factors that are most likely to drive a person to alcohol addiction are:

1. A chemical imbalance
2. Events of the past which with they have not reconciled
3. Current conditions with which they cannot cope
4. Things they have come to believe but which are not true

While the first of those four issues can be treated with medication, all four, and especially the last three, require some degree of counseling or therapy, or both. There are many treatment centers around the nation, such as the Alcohol Rehab center at Passages Malibu.

Chronic Drinking

The most obvious sign that a person may be or is about to become an alcoholic is if they are a chronic drinker. People who drink daily, or even drink on most days in the week are not necessarily alcoholics. The number and type of alcoholic beverages they consume, however, can be a clear indication that they have a problem. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, for example, has concluded that “men who drink more than four standard drinks in a day (or more than 14 per week) and women who drink more than three in a day (or more than seven per week) are at an increased risk for alcohol-related problems.”

A “standard drink” varies by the type of beverage, and ranges from as little as a single ounce of whiskey to a 12-ounce glass, bottle or can of beer. The higher percentage of alcohol or “proof” of the beverage, as well as the larger the amount consumed, the more likely the drinker is or is becoming an alcoholic.

Binge Drinking

Binge drinking or “going on a drunk” as it used to be called is another indication that the person has or is developing an addiction to alcohol. People who drink unusually large amounts of alcoholic beverages, especially those with a high alcohol content, are likely to have an issue. Those that do so to such an extent that they are no longer coherent, or no longer in control of their bodily functions or pass out are also unlikely to be what was once referred to as “social drinkers.” Those who become violently ill or unconscious due to alcohol poisoning, of course, are especially likely to be on the path to becoming alcoholics.

Severe Depression Frequent Job Absenteeism and DUI

Many people drink because they are depressed, or become depressed when they drink.  Either is an indication that they are at risk of being or becoming an alcoholic. People who drink so much that they are unable to wake up in time to go to their job or school, or who if they do are incapable of performing their tasks may be suffering from alcoholism. Those who would rather drink than go to school or work, or who refuse to stop drinking when faced with going to work or school are also likely to be at risk for alcoholism. Those who are convicted of a DUI (driving under the influence, especially of alcohol) are also at high risk of becoming an alcoholic.

Domestic Violence and Anger

A high percentage of domestic abuse cases involve alcohol or other addictive substances, as do a high percentage of cases of domestic violence. If someone becomes violent when drinking, there is an especially high chance that they are an alcoholic, and are more than likely suffering from one of the four key factors of alcoholism as identified by the researchers at Passages Malibu.

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