Am I Addicted to Alcohol?
For people questioning whether they or their loved ones are dealing with an alcohol use disorder, it can sometimes be difficult to determine with certainty the existence of a problem. The lines between casual drinking, binge drinking, heavy alcohol use, and alcoholism can sometimes be tough to decipher.
While there isn’t a definitive test for alcoholism, such as a blood test, there are physical, psychological, and psychosocial signs that can help people recognize alcoholism in themselves or loved ones. This article will take a closer look at the symptoms of alcohol addiction and other indicators of alcohol abuse.
If you are concerned you or someone you know has lost control of their drinking, start by taking our self-assessment quiz below.
Physical Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol abuse creates changes in the body that can affect many aspects of a person’s physical being, from outward appearance to organ health. These include:
- Redness of the face after drinking, which may become permanent over time.
- Skin sores.
- Severe digestive problems.
- Heart problems, such as arrhythmia or high blood pressure.
- Shakiness or loss of balance.
- Diminished motor skills and clumsiness.
Psychological Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction
A psychological test for alcoholism can be more challenging because these symptoms can be harder to see or may occur before the alcoholism issue is in place. However, if individuals or their loved ones feel that alcohol use may be severe enough to contribute to these factors, it’s worth paying attention to these signs:
- Sleep problems.
- Antisocial behavior.
- Extreme mood swings.
A study on Alcoholism and Psychiatric Disorders published by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) indicates that antisocial personality disorder is more prevalent in those with alcohol use disorders than the general population. An estimated 15%–20% of men with alcoholism and up to 10% of women with alcoholism demonstrate this psychiatric disorder, compared to 4% of men and 0.8% of women in the general population.
Psychosocial Signs of Alcohol Addiction
According to the NIAAA, people concerned that they or a loved one has an alcohol use disorder or alcoholism can ask the following questions:
- Does the person exhibit guilt or shame about drinking?
- Is the person hiding drinking habits?
- Does the person feel withdrawal symptoms if drinking is stopped, such as shakiness, nausea, headache, and restlessness, or even hallucinations?
- Does the person exhibit an inability to stop drinking, drink more than intended on a regular basis, or drink longer than planned?
- Has the person experienced relationship problems with family or friends and continued to drink anyway?
- Does the person regularly engage in risky behavior while intoxicated?
- Has the person had problems with work or school responsibilities based on drinking?
- Does the person’s drinking result in regularly missing activities that would normally be enjoyed?
Answering “yes” to questions like these, and exhibiting the physical signs and psychological symptoms described above, may indicate that the person is indeed struggling with alcoholism. These questions and signs can act as a makeshift test for alcoholism and help determine if a person needs professional alcohol treatment.