April is Alcohol Awareness Month: Understanding the Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorders

Understanding the Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorders

Whether you’re going to a club with friends or going to dinner with work colleagues, there’s often some alcohol present. Sometimes it’s hard to know whether people are having a good time or simply drinking too much.

Making this distinction can save a life.

With April being Alcohol Awareness Month, it’s important to learn the signs and symptoms of alcohol use disorders. It’s also important to understand why it is necessary.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism

There are many symptoms of an alcohol use disorder to look out for. The following signs can even be used for recognizing alcohol dependency in yourself:

  • Drinking more than you planned on
  • Drinking longer than you planned on
  • Trying to cut back on alcohol and being unsuccessful
  • Spending too much time being sick from being hungover
  • Thinking about drinking alcohol constantly
  • Alcohol takes priority over friends, family, and work
  • Quitting other activities to spend more time drinking
  • Relying on alcohol when you have strong emotions (extreme happiness, sadness, stress)
  • Having withdrawal symptoms when you haven’t had alcohol  (these symptoms include trouble sleeping, nausea, sweating, shakiness, and palpitations)

Alcohol use disorder exists in three stages: mild, moderate, and severe. You’re considered to have mild alcohol use disorder if you’ve met two or three of the above symptoms within a 12-month period. It’s moderate alcohol use disorder if you’ve met four or five of the above symptoms in a 12-year period, and it’s considered severe alcohol use disorder if you’ve had six or more of these symptoms in a 12-month period.

Keep in mind that alcohol use disorder is about more than how much you’ve had to drink. It also involves how often you drink, whether or not you have withdrawal symptoms, and what happens when you drink. Unfortunately, it is not always obvious that someone you know is suffering from an alcohol use disorder, as many people still function in their everyday lives with this affliction. It doesn’t make it any less serious though, here’s why.

Why Alcohol Use Disorders Matter

It is estimated that 5.8% of people in the United States who are 18 years of age or older have an alcohol use disorder.

This is why recognizing the symptoms of alcohol use disorders are so important. The disorder affects more people than you may realize.

No two people with an alcohol use disorder present themselves in exactly the same way, so keeping an eye on your friends and family is crucial to catching this problem sooner rather than later. The sooner you catch the potential issue, the sooner that person can receive help from counseling services like ours.

If you don’t catch these symptoms soon enough, further complications like alcohol poisoning, liver failure, and cardiovascular disease can become a huge problem.

What to Do Next

If you think that you or someone you know may have alcohol use disorder based on the symptoms above, get help. Don’t try to quit by yourself.

If you have even the slightest idea that you may have an alcohol use disorder, reach out to your primary physician. They can help you with identifying whether or not you should seek intervention.

Trying to conquer this by yourself is not safe. Your doctor can help you put together a treatment plan and recognize when you need even more help from a support group or a counselor.

If you and/or your doctor believe that you would benefit from counseling, feel free to contact us here at Braden Counseling Center.