signs of alcoholism

Signs of Alcoholism

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

What are the Signs of Alcoholism?

Could you recognize the signs and symptoms of alcoholism or alcohol use disorder? Did you know there are different levels of severity?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a medical condition characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational or health consequences.” And in the United States, it is estimated 7.2% adults, approximately 17 million people, had a diagnosable alcohol use disorder. So knowing how to identify it could help you save a life of a friend, coworker, family member or even yourself.

Here is a quick survey to help quickly assess a potential alcoholic:

  • Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer, than you intended?
  • More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t?
  • Spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over other aftereffects?
  • Wanted a drink so badly you couldn’t think of anything else?
  • Found that drinking—or being sick from drinking—often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems?
  • Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?
  • Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink?
  • More than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as: driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unprotected sex)?
  • Continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem? Or after having had a memory blackout?
  • Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?
  • Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, restlessness, nausea, sweating, a racing heart, or a seizure? Or sensed things that were not there?

Any of these symptoms may mean alcohol use disorder is present. However, medical professionals define the severity of the alcohol use disorder based on amount of presenting criteria: Mild: 2-3 criteria, Moderate: 4-5 criteria, Sever: 6 or more criteria.

While every individual is unique, there are commonalities in symptoms that are widely recognized as warning signs. Similarly there are also signs that an individual is predisposed to alcohol use disorder.

Signs an individual is predisposed to alcohol use disorder:

  • Drinking at an early age. The risk for females in this group is higher than that of males.
  • Genetics and family history of alcohol problems. Parents’ drinking patterns may also influence the likelihood that a child will one day develop AUD.
  • Mental health conditions and a history of trauma.
  • People with a history of childhood trauma are also vulnerable to AUD.

Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder

Seeing the signs of alcoholism and treating it depends on the severity of the condition. For a moderate to severe drinker, medical detoxification may be required to avoid further physical symptoms. Alcohol is a dangerous substance to try to withdrawal from and it is highly recommended one seeks professional help when deciding to stop drinking. However, for all those with AUD, treatment is recommended in an evidence-based facility that focuses on the individual in a holistic and compassionate way.

There are several options when it comes to treatment beyond detoxification. Inpatient treatment for AUD can mean 30, 60 or 90 days in a residential treatment facility like First Steps’ three homes in the foothills of Central California. Inpatient treatment for AUD allows the mind to rest and the body to heal, while a bio-psycho-social approach is taken to the individual person.

Outpatient treatment is another option for those who cannot leave their home or job for inpatient treatment. There are two different kinds of outpatient at First Steps Recovery; Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). PHP is a 6 hour program broken in to two three-hour blocks during the day and IOP is 3 hours a day, either day or night, in person or online.

But at First Steps Recovery we want to make sure the individual succeeds beyond graduating from our programs which is why we have aftercare. Aftercare has a host of opportunities for each individual to connect in a community, keep in touch with their case manager and therapist, and attend outings and holiday events with the First Steps Recovery team to bring hope to those with a desire to stop drinking.

If you or a loved one meets the criteria above, please call us at 844.BIGSTEP, we will help you on your way to Take the First Step.

If you would like to read more about how to talk to a loved one about AUD read our blog, “How to Bring Up Addiction to a Loved One”.



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