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Alcoholism: Signs, Symptoms & Treatment

Man with bottle of alcohol

What is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is an addiction to drinking alcohol defined by an inability to stop or manage drinking habits.

Alcohol abuse and alcoholism don’t necessarily go hand in hand. Because of this, signs of alcoholism can sometimes be easy to miss.

Serenity Addiction Centres are world leaders when it comes to the treatment of alcohol addiction and dependence. This is why we share these alcohol addiction facts to make sure you are as informed as possible and to help you decide whether or not you need to come to us for help.

Once we have successfully helped a client detox, we work on a specialised recovery plan that is tailored to each specific patient and their needs, focusing on their wellbeing and road to a happy life.

Alcohol Dependence

Alcohol dependence, also known as alcohol addiction or alcoholism, is a severe drinking habit that often results in strong urges to drink that can be at times impossible to control.

People with alcohol addiction often find that alcohol takes up an important part of their day-to-day life, which can have the unfortunate effect of building up their tolerance, meaning over time they begin to drink even more.

If you drink several times a week, or often feel like you need to go to the pub after work just to be able to relax, chances are you’re either dependent on alcohol or on your way to it.

Causes of Alcohol Addiction

While it might not start off this way, alcohol addicts often drink because they crave the way alcohol makes them feel. If a non-alcoholic has a drink, they can enjoy it and then move on with their lives without it having a major effect.

They’ll be able to take it or leave it, which may seem easy to somebody who has never suffered with alcoholism, but an alcoholic finds it difficult or even impossible to resist their urges.

The craving and desire to drink can be completely overwhelming and can result in them drinking until they pass out. An alcohol addict simply can’t make rational and reasonable decisions about alcohol or just choose to stop and follow through with it.

Why Do Alcoholics Start Drinking?

There can be many causes; stress, family problems, bereavement, money worries, illness. Someone might pick up a drink to destress, and then find that they are doing it more and more just to get through the day instead of naturally being able to cope with whatever issues may be going on in their lives.

On the other hand, there are cases where someone takes just one drink, and that’s enough to become addicted. Alcohol misuse doesn’t necessarily even need to be involved, as some people just naturally have an addictive personality.

Usually, the addictive behaviour is driven by multiple factors. In lots of cases, it has been shown to run in families. This is believed to be attributable to both the genetic makeup of the individual as well as the attitudes to alcohol that they’ve grown up with.

It has further been proven that alcohol dependency is more prevalent amongst those with some form of psychiatric disorder. Whether it’s anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or similar related issues. This is why wellbeing plays a major role in recovery. There can be a tendency to self-medicate – one which you might recognise in yourself.

Although some feel that this provides short-term relief, the long-term effect of combining alcoholic and mental illness is an even greater imbalance of the chemical ratios in your brain, and professional help and often rehab is the only long term way of recovering from both.

Alcoholism is a serious and debilitating mental illness that almost always requires treatment to overcome. If you think you may be an alcoholic, we highly recommend calling us now for free advice on your next steps and how we can help you get control of your life and get back on track.

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Symptoms & Signs of Alcoholism

Alcohol addiction symptoms can sometimes be hard to spot. Unlike illegal drugs, alcohol is a common and accepted part of our society and culture. Plenty of people in the UK drink regularly and some may even appear to be an alcoholic at one time in their life, for example when first going to university, but then get over it very quickly.

Even for professionals, it can sometimes be difficult to immediately diagnose the difference between an alcoholic and somebody who just likes to drink regularly but has control of the habit.

Some of the most common signs of an alcoholic include:

  • Alcohol denial signs, such as hiding alcohol, or pretending they aren’t drinking
  • Not contacting loved ones for periods of time
  • Encounters with the police or ambulance due to being so drunk
  • Planning social, family, or professional events around when you will need a drink
  • Increased quantities consumed or frequency of drinking
  • Lack of energy, depression and other emotional problems
  • Changes in friendship groups, for example, spending more time with people that drink regularly
  • Drinking at inappropriate times like on the way to work or at church
  • High tolerance for alcohol or appearing to not get hangovers
  • Night sweats

Of course, if you get withdrawal signs after not drinking for 6-12 hours, that is also a big sign. Withdrawal symptoms can include nausea, shaking, sweating and insomnia.

There are some questions you can ask yourself to help work out whether you have a drinking problem. For example:

  1. Have you ever decided to stop drinking for a period of time or for good, but only lasted a couple of days?
  2. Do you get defensive when people ask about your drinking or ask them to mind their own business?
  3. Do you ever drink upon waking up?
  4. Do you blackout from drinking?
  5. Do you feel that your life would be better if you didn’t drink?
  6. Have you ever gone to get extra drinks while at a party, feeling that what was being served wasn’t enough?

If you answered yes to three or more of the questions above, you could be in trouble with your drinking. A professional diagnosis by a medical professional will help to determine the severity of your addiction.

If you’re still not sure about the signs you’re an alcoholic, we recommend contacting us for advice.

Alcohol Addiction Effects on Health

Spotting alcohol dependency and treating it early on can make it possible to avoid the majority of health complications. If you know somebody you think maybe an alcoholic, try to avoid shaming them or making them feel guilty, as this can make them withdraw into their shell and become more defensive, and even make them avoid you.

Approach them supportively, make it clear you are here for them and want to help them get the best from their lives. If this doesn’t work, it is, unfortunately, time to get professional help.

Alcohol has some serious side effects and some of the most recent alcohol addiction statistics suggest the substance is responsible for around 8,000 deaths per year in the UK alone.

Some of the side effects alcoholics and heavy long term drinkers can experience include:

  • Immune system issues
  • Strokes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Increased chance of cancer
  • Problems with vision
  • Birth defects
  • High blood pressure
  • Erectile dysfunction and other sexual issues
  • Complications with diabetes
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Kidney and liver issues or failure

And this is without even getting into the dangers caused by drink driving.

Even your financial well-being can be adversely impacted, with many alcoholics finding that they’re unable to perform at work and eventually end up losing their employment.

This can not only further deepen the anxiety and depression you may be feeling, but also leave you with lots of extra hours in the day – hours that you might be tempted to spend drinking in order to boost your mood.

There are also other alcohol-related illnesses worth looking out for if you think somebody has a drinking problem:

Alcoholic Dementia

Alcoholic dementia is a serious problem caused when the brain is damaged by long term regular drinking.

Symptoms of alcoholic dementia include:

  • Issues with decision making, organisation and planning
  • Impulsiveness and inability to control emotions
  • Loss of attention span
  • Socially inappropriate behaviour

Alcoholic Hepatitis

Alcoholic hepatitis is when heavy alcohol consumption over a long period of time causes the liver to inflame. Continuing to drink with alcoholic hepatitis is incredibly dangerous and can lead to internal bleeding or liver failure.

Symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting and/or nausea
  • Jaundice
  • Fevers
  • Constant fatigue

Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

Treating alcoholism in the long term takes a lot more than a simple detox and getting sober. Some clients binge drink once or twice a month, some drink daily, and some even wake up and drink first thing every morning.

Often we find there are other issues in a person’s life that encourage them to drink, and a therapeutic and holistic approach can help identify these issues and work through them, which provides much more reliable and long term results than a simple detox. This part of treatment is often found to be quite difficult by some patients due to alcohol being a crutch in their life for so long.

The NHS offers services for those with an alcohol addiction, including prescription drugs, therapy and in the worse case scenarios, hospital treatment. In some circumstances the NHS can provide support with getting sober and getting in to rehab but it is rarely the first prescribed treatment and it can be difficult for them to justify that level of individual support. Private rehab is much more common and more easily accessible.

We have a highly qualified team of psychotherapists, doctors and counsellors, some of whom have overcome alcoholism themselves. They are waiting to meet you and help you uncover the thought processes, underlying issues, and more that may have encouraged your alcohol problem.

This is all done in a safe and peaceful environment designed for confidentiality and stress free progress, and we offer a variety of free no-obligation advice and assessments to work out how serious your issues are and how we can help you.

It can be extremely difficult or even impossible to stop drinking while still going through your normal day-to-day routine. The same friends, situations and triggers that often make you want to drink will still be present, making distracting yourself extremely hard.

We offer a range of proven options designed to take you out of this situation into a relaxing and safe environment and help you address your problems. These include:

  • Alcohol counselling and therapy sessions
  • Diet plans
  • Alternative therapies such as reiki and massages
  • Alcohol addiction help and support groups

Alcohol Rehab

We understand that taking the decision to commit to rehab can be extremely scary, and your mind can conjure up all sorts of images. The main focus of our rehabilitation facilities is to create a relaxed and stress free environment, surrounded by some of the world’s leading doctors, therapists and counsellors in order to give you the best possible chance of recovery.

You are able to attend rehab as either an inpatient or an outpatient. Which is best for you depends on the severity of your addiction and your financial circumstances. Inpatients will receive all the benefits of staying in private residential rehab accommodation, whereas outpatients will detox from home and receive visits from medical professionals. It is also more effective to stay at a rehab location that is not your home as it helps to disassociate from your triggers.

If you are interested, you can schedule a tour of one of your local rehab centres to see the available facilities, resources and environment. This can help you with taking the first steps towards your rehabilitation, but is completely free of charge and comes with no obligations, so you have nothing to lose in giving us a call and seeing what we can offer.

You can also use our handy map to find rehab centres near you.

For more information on our rehabilitation programmes, please see our Alcohol Rehab page to see what we can do for you.

Alcohol Detox

As we all know, the road to recovery begins with admitting you have an issue. It is unfortunately impossible to overcome alcoholism for somebody who doesn’t believe they have a problem.

Detoxing before alcohol addiction treatment is one of the best things you can do as it lets you operate without any alcohol in your system, and it gives you confidence in your own ability to control your problems. For help with getting sober please check out our expert guide on how to safely home detox from alcohol.

If this is impossible, you can, of course, be admitted to one of our rehabilitation centres so that professionals can supervise you and aid in your detox. The severity of your addiction may mean you need to reduce your levels of alcohol intake and/or other substances you are addicted to, rather than detox entirely to start with.

We highly recommend contacting us to see what we can offer in your local area if this is something you believe you need. Don’t forget we are always available on the phone to give free advice, so if you’re not sure, give us a call now!

There’s nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

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      • Drinking alone or in secret
      • Losing interest in extracurricular or social activities that don’t involve drinking
      • Often craves for alcohol
      • Makes drinking a priority over personal & professional responsibilities
      • Extreme mood swings
      • Experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms
      • Drinking early in the morning
      • Disregarding the negative impact of alcohol on relationships
      • Alcohol inpatient detox
      • Alcohol home detox
      • Alcohol rehab
      • Intervention
      • Counselling
      • Group Therapy

We have rehab and detox clinics all across the UK to help you on your journey to recovery. Find rehab centres & facilities near you.

For more information on how much alcohol addiction treatment costs, please visit our prices page.

The best way to get started is to give us a call at 0800 118 2892 for free advice and assessment. Let us help you or your loved one figure out the best treatment plan for your alcohol addiction so you can get started on your journey to recovery.

What is the recommended maximum weekly alcohol intake?

The more alcohol you drink, the higher the health risks are. There is no such thing as a safe drinking level as any amount of consumption carries a significant amount of risk to your mental & physical health.