Alcohol Addiction Signs & Symptoms

Understanding Addiction

Learn about young adult alcohol abuse

Men and women who abuse alcohol will continue to do so even though multiple negative consequences may be occurring. In addition to putting themselves at an increased risk for physical health problems and the potential of losing close loved ones, those who abuse alcohol are more likely to develop an alcohol addiction. It is important to note that there is a distinction between alcohol abuse and alcoholism. Those who abuse alcohol are able to place some limitations on their drinking, while alcoholics are not able to do this. Alcoholics are those individuals that have developed a physical dependence on alcohol and have come to rely on it in order to function. However, this is no way means that alcohol abuse is not just as self-destructive or dangerous.

Since alcohol abuse can lead to the development of many adverse consequences that can ultimately cause a decline in a person’s overall quality of life, treatment should be sought as soon as possible. The sooner someone who is abusing alcohol gets the treatment they need, the greater the chance they have for a successful recovery.


Statistics of alcohol abuse

In 2012 it was estimated that approximately 17 million adults in the United States, ages 18 and older, were struggling with an alcohol use disorder. Sadly, of those 17 million only 1.4 million adults actually received treatment. Additionally, alcohol abuse tends to be greater in adult males (12.4%) than among adult females at (4.6%).

Causes and Risk Factors for Alcohol Abuse

Causes and risk factors for alcohol abuse

Despite multiple years of research, scientists have still not been able to pinpoint an exact cause for why some individuals develop alcohol abuse problems or addiction. They have however, identified some factors that may play a role. Some common examples of such factors are listed below:

Genetic: There is a large amount of scientific evidence that suggests that genetics play a significant part in the development of alcohol abuse problems and alcoholism. Multiple studies conducted on twins and children of alcoholics have shown that these individuals are more likely to develop a problem with alcohol than the general population.

Environmental: It is also widely believed that a person’s environment can very much trigger the onset of an alcohol abuse problem and the development of an alcohol addiction. Some of these environmental influences may include exposure to chronic stress, violence, and traumatic events.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history of alcohol abuse or other substance abuse problems
  • Family history of mental illness
  • Personal history of mental illness
  • Exposure to alcohol at a young age
  • Being male
  • Low socioeconomic status
  • Poor impulse control
  • Having low self-esteem
  • Relationship problems
  • Peer pressure

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse in young adults

As was previously mentioned the presence of alcohol abuse does not necessarily mean that an individual is an alcoholic. However, alcohol abuse has the ability to turn into an addiction, which is why it is important to take note of any signs or symptoms that may indicate a problem with alcohol. Some of the most common signs or symptoms of an alcohol problem include:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Unable to stop drinking or control how much one drinks
  • Requiring more alcohol to feel desired effects
  • Frequently drinking alone
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Spending a significant amount of time recovering from effects of alcohol
  • Repeatedly neglecting all responsibilities and obligations
  • Decline in work or school performance
  • Engagement in risky behaviors
  • Multiple interactions with the legal system Lying or hiding drinking habits

Physical symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Flushed skin
  • Trembling or shaking hands
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Lack of coordination
  • Slurred speech

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Poor decision-making
  • Changes in personality
  • Memory problems
  • Unable to concentrate
  • Experiencing blackouts

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Mood swings
  • Hostility
  • Increased anger
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Increased anxiety

Effects of Alcohol Abuse

Effects of alcohol abuse on young adults

Alcohol abuse can lead to a number of serious, sometimes life-threatening consequences. Adverse health consequences, ruined relationships, financial problems, and emotional instability can all result from untreated alcohol abuse. The following are potential effects that can occur if alcohol abuse problems are not properly treated:

  • Poor work performance
  • Job loss
  • Financial difficulties
  • Development of certain cancers
  • Heart problems
  • Liver disease
  • Brain damage
  • Weakened immune system
  • Problems with attention, learning, and memory
  • Higher risk for divorce
  • Loss of friends
  • Greater risk for child abuse and domestic violence
  • Involvement with the legal system, which may result in incarceration
  • Suicidal ideations
  • Death

Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-occurring disorders we treat

There are a number of mental health disorders associated with alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction. In many cases the abuse of alcohol is an attempt by the individual to cope with the untreated symptoms of said mental health disorder. The following mental health disorders are those that are commonly diagnosed in individuals who abuse alcohol:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depressive disorders

Effects of Withdrawal and Overdose

Effects of alcohol withdrawal and overdose

Effects of alcohol withdrawal: Typically occurring within several hours or a few days after consumption of alcohol has ceased, alcohol withdrawal can produce a number of unpleasant side effects that typically last a few days. The risk for experiencing withdrawal is going to depend upon the amount of alcohol an individual has consumed and the length of time he or she has been drinking. Typically, greater amounts of alcohol produce more severe symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms that can occur when someone is going through alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Increased heart rate
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Shakiness or trembling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Convulsions
  • Delirium
  • Hallucinations

Effects of alcohol overdose: Alcohol overdose, also referred to as alcohol poisoning, occurs when a person consumes more alcohol then his or her body can metabolize. An alcohol overdose is a medical emergency and medical attention should be sought immediately. The following are signs that a person may be suffering from alcohol poisoning:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Incoherence
  • Mental confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Seizures
  • Hypothermia
  • Coma
  • Permanent brain damage
  • Death

We are affiliated with the following organizations, which provide accreditation, education, and training to ensure quality behavioral health and addiction treatment.
  • Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF)
  • National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP)
  • National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP)
  • Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Council
  • The Jason Foundation