Alcohol addiction refers to an emotional and physical dependence on alcohol that makes you unable to control drinking. Also called alcohol use disorder, this condition is the most common substance use disorder in the world, affecting 1 in every 25 women and 1 in every 12 men in the United States. And according to recent research, traditional treatments like psychological therapy alone are not enough to treat alcohol abuse for prolonged periods. This is why alcohol addiction Oradell specialists combine these interventions with ketamine therapy, which has been proven to help people stay sober longer. But before you or your loved one can seek treatment, you need to be able to identify the problem. Here are some signs and symptoms that can point to alcohol use disorder.
Most people who are addicted to alcohol can hide physical symptoms for a while. For example, they can drink in private, change their clothes to hide the smell, and more. However, behavioral symptoms of alcohol dependence are much harder to conceal. They reflect changes in how a person behaves. For example, some people may start having risky sex, become aggressive, or take too many risks. Long-term behavioral changes can include secretiveness, avoiding activities once enjoyed, withdrawing from family and friends, and misusing money. It is important to discuss these changes with a specialist if you notice them in a loved one. With more information, they can help you distinguish alcohol abuse from other mental health conditions like bipolar disorder, which can present similar symptoms.
If the alcohol abuse is long-standing, those affected may be able to avoid intoxication even after having several drinks. They may also try to hide the fact that they have been drinking. Nonetheless, you may notice short-term effects of intoxication, like blurry vision, slow reaction times, poor coordination, and slurred speech. Perpetual hangovers and visits to the ER over alcohol poisoning are also warning signs. In the long term, overconsumption of alcohol can have physical effects like gout, anemia, sexual dysfunction, high blood pressure, liver damage, and malnutrition.
Mental and Emotional Symptoms
Alcohol use disorder can also cause changes to several areas of the brain, most especially your dopamine receptors. Subsequently, you or your loved one may experience mental and emotional symptoms like impaired judgment, memory problems, blackouts, and increased anger and irritability. Long-term effects can include a reduced attention span, and increased tolerance to alcohol, anxiety, and depression.
Some symptoms of alcohol use disorder are classified under alcohol withdrawal because they appear when you try to quit alcohol immediately and without help. You may notice symptoms within hours or days of your last drink, which may include sleeping problems, rapid heartbeat, vomiting and nausea, sweating, and shaking. If the abuse is severe, you may also experience seizures and hallucinations.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
When an expectant mother consumes alcohol during pregnancy, the alcohol can affect the baby in utero, leading to fetal alcohol syndrome. Children with this condition may display symptoms like poor coordination and balance, slower-than-normal development, growth problems, and brain damage.
Seek Professional Help for Alcohol Abuse
Traditional alcohol addiction treatments like medication and behavioral therapy have demonstrated very high relapse rates, especially within the first year. But with treatments like ketamine therapy, you or your loved one have a chance to kick alcohol abuse and regain control of your life. It all starts with seeking professional help from a caring substance use disorder expert. So if you notice any of these symptoms in yourself or your loved one, schedule a consultation today to get help.