What is alcoholism?
- A strong urge to consume alcohol, known also as craving.
- The inability to stop drinking, once started.
- A physical dependence involving withdrawal symptoms including nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety.
- An elevated tolerance to alcohol.
What are the potential warning signs of an alcohol problem?
- Drinking causes a persistent or recurring social, work, financial, legal, or health problem.
- Individual has tried unsuccessfully to cut down the extent of alcohol use.
- Once the person starts drinking, he/she sometimes loses control over the amount consumed.
- Individual commonly drinks while alone. Regular solitary drinking, as compared with social drinking, indicates potential current or future alcohol dependence.
- Individual drinks to relax prior to social events, as compared with using alcohol at social events.
- Individual drinks first thing in the morning as an “eye-opener” or to get rid of a hangover.
- Individual claims a high tolerance for alcohol, for example, makes statements such as: “I can drink a lot without its having any effect on me, so I don’t have to worry.”
- Individual uses alcohol as a means of coping with life’s problems. This indicates possible psychological or emotional problems and greatly increases the likelihood that alcohol already is or will become a problem. On the other hand, if motivation is experimentation, peer pressure, or adolescent rebelliousness, this does not necessarily predict future abuse.
- There has been a recent increase in individual’s drinking. A change for the worse in drinking pattern may signal the existence of other relevant issues.
- There is a family history of alcohol abuse. Genetic studies indicate that alcoholism tends to run in families and that a genetic vulnerability to alcoholism exists.