Alcohol Abuse Symptoms

  • Symptoms

    If you experience difficulties such as arguments, repeated missed deadlines or appointments, absenteeism, driving after drinking, and run-ins with the law after drinking, you may have an alcohol problem Table 05.

    Table 5. Indicators of Possible Problem Drinking

    Acute symptoms Chronic symptoms Other signs
    - Recurrent intoxication
    - Amnesic episodes (blackouts)
    - Nausea
    - Sweating
    - Tachycardia
    - Tremor
    - Fatigue
    - Grand mal seizures
    - Hallucinations
    - Delirium tremens
    - Mood swings
    - Depression
    - Anxiety
    - Insomnia
    - Dyspepsia
    - Nausea
    - Diarrhea
    - Bloating
    - Hematemesis
    - Jaundice
    - Unsteady gait
    - Paraesthesia
    - Memory loss
    - Erectile dysfunction
    - Heavy, regular alcohol consumption
    - Other substance abuse, either illegal or prescription
    - Heavy cigarette smoking
    - Poor nutrition
    - Inability to articulate feelings
    - Multiple psychosomatic problems
    - Spontaneous abortion
    - Child with fetal alcohol syndrome
    - Domestic violence and abuse
    - Frequent falls or minor trauma (especially in the elderly)
    - Absenteeism from work
    - Interpersonal, financial, and legal problems
    - Accidents, burns, violence; suicide attempts
    - Unexpected response to medication

    An inability to stop drinking, having symptoms of withdrawal, and compulsive consumption indicate alcohol dependence. An arrest for drinking and driving, being sent home from work for smelling like alcohol, or physically or verbally abusing your family after a few drinks serve as strong warnings that you may have an alcohol problem.

  • Risk Factors

    Having an alcoholic parent increases your risk of developing alcohol problems.

    Close relatives of people who are dependent on alcohol are three to four times more likely than the general population to develop alcohol problems themselves. While the disease tends to run in families, not every child of an alcoholic parent will develop alcohol-related problems. In addition, people with no family history can become dependent upon alcohol as well.

    Growing up in a troubled household may increase your risk of becoming an alcoholic, as may feelings of isolation, depression, and anger. Many alcoholics watched parents fight and separate. Some have low self-esteem, or suffer from bouts of depression and anxiety that may be temporarily alleviated by the "high" feeling one gets from alcohol.

    Gender, age, and race influence your risk for alcoholism. Men, younger people, and whites experience more alcohol-related problems than women, older people, or other racial groups, respectively.

    While men have more problems with alcohol than women, substance-related physical ailments sometimes progress more quickly in women than they would in men because of differences in body composition and alcohol metabolism.

    Elderly patients sometimes start drinking to manage stress, induce sleep, or deal with the loss of a loved one.

    Young people under the age of 25 are at risk of developing alcohol problems in high school or college.

    Professionals and executives who drink socially during the day are at an increased risk of developing alcohol dependence or abuse.

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