Am I an Alcoholic?

With Christmas and New Years festivities wrapping up, some of us like to continue the party, begging the question: Am I an Alcoholic?  Addiction is a disease and the only disease that can be self-diagnosed. 

What is considered Alcoholism?

Alcoholism can also be referred to as alcohol abuse, alcohol misuse, alcohol dependence and alcohol use disorder.  A formal definition of any of these classification states that “it is an addiction to the consumption of alcoholic liquor or the mental illness and compulsive behavior resulting from alcohol dependency”.   Those of us with experience know all about the mental obsession when we take one drink, we are doomed to continue until we don’t know.  This is a disease of the brain that tells us we need to drink and that “just one” won’t hurt us. The other part is alcoholics have an allergy to alcohol where they don’t process it the same as someone who can have a few beverages here and there.

What are the characteristics of being an alcoholic?

There are many assumptions of what an alcoholic is, such as homeless and drinking out of a paper bag, drinking every day, acting belligerent, the “party” guy/girl, ad infinitum. But what it really comes down to is the obsession for the drink and not being able to stop once you start.  Alcoholism is a mental obsession that consumes the thoughts of an alcoholic in that they will always be thinking about the next drink. 

Once an alcoholic takes a drink, the drink takes the alcoholic and there is really no determining where they will end up.  Many, but not all alcoholics experience what are called “blackouts” – where they cannot remember certain time frames or even a long span of time of what happened when they were drinking. Below is a list of symptoms to review if you feel you may be struggling with alcoholism:

Physical Symptoms from Alcohol Abuse:

  • Blacking out, or having any memory loss caused by excessive drinking
  • Progressively greater tolerance for alcohol
  • Tremors or shakes in the absence of alcohol
  • Spider Angiomas (tiny, very red blood vessels)
  • Insomnia
  • Unhealthy liver problems (inflammation or cirrhosis)
  • Perspiring and nausea, even when not consuming alcohol
  • Loss of appetite and destructive eating habits
  • Poor hygiene maintenance
  • Unexplained sicknesses or accidents

Emotional and Behavioral Symptoms from Alcohol Abuse:

  • Unpredictability and extreme mood swings
  • Unusual anger and emotional outbursts
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Isolating
  • Abusive behavior (physical and-or emotional)
  • Emotional detachment
  • Crying spells
  • Recent untrustworthiness and unreliability
  • Defending excessive drinking habits

Social Symptoms from Alcohol Abuse:

  • Not being able to stop after a couple of drinks
  • Family and friends are worried about drinking habits
  • Drinking in dangerous, or inappropriate, situations
  • Legal problems such as DUI or public intoxication
  • Making excuses or inventing reasons to drink
  • Lying about drinking
  • Relationships negatively affected by drinking
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Drinking alone or hiding drinking
  • Irritability when unable to drink
  • Missing important events (family or business)

Does drinking everyday mean you are an alcoholic?

Alcoholism is NOT defined by what you drink, when you drink or how much you drink.  Drinking every day as a coping mechanism or not being able to stop can be signs of alcoholism, but it is not the only determining factor.

Get Help

If you or a family member is struggling with alcohol, we can help.  Visit our website, email us at [email protected] or call us at 1-888-438-9991.