Alcoholism can take many forms, and anyone is susceptible to addiction. If you think you or someone you know is exhibiting signs of alcoholism, here are a few symptoms to look for, as well as some statistics about alcoholism.
Stages of Alcoholism
1. Pre-alcoholic: the pre-alcoholic stage resembles normal alcohol use. It applies to social drinking or drinking normal quantities mainly in socially acceptable situations. The defining characteristics of this stage are developing a tolerance to alcohol, with use increased slightly, as well as using alcohol outside of social occasions and instead for emotional reasons, such as to calm nerves or ease anxiety. This stage can be difficult to recognize because it often resembles standard drinking behavior.
2. Early alcoholic: early alcoholic stage can include blackouts from drinking, trying to resist or limit drinking, increased drinking (in spite of attempts to cut back), hiding alcohol use from friends and family (such as lying about the number of drinks you’ve had, or about drinking the night before). This stage may appear suspicious or concerning to friends and family, but not completely alarming.
3. Middle alcoholic: at this stage, a problem with alcohol becomes apparent to friends and family. At this stage, you may be missing work or social obligations due to drinking or hangovers. You may exhibit physical symptoms, such as sudden or dramatic weight loss or gain. You may be drinking at inappropriate times, such as while driving or before work. At this stage, many seek or are encouraged by loved ones to get treatment.
4. Late alcoholic: this stage refers to a period after chronic alcohol abuse, when health problems from drinking have manifested. If jobs or relationships have not already suffered or been lost, it usually happens in this stage. Rehabilitation is still very possible at this point.
According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol abuse is defined by more than 4 drinks in one day or more than 14 drinks per week. In women, it is more than 3 drinks in one day or more than seven drinks per week.
Other symptoms of alcoholism include unsuccessful attempts to cut back on alcohol, blacking out, making regrettable decisions under the influence of alcohol, work or relationship troubles due to alcohol, cravings for alcohol, increased tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms the day after drinking or during periods without alcohol.
Withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, irritability, headaches, dizziness, heart palpitations, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, trembling, and sweating.
1. Approximately 88,000 people die annually from alcohol abuse, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the U.S.
2. In 2012, 3.3 million deaths globally (about 6% of all deaths) were alcohol-related.
3. According to a study conducted in 2012, more than 10% of children in the U.S. live with a parent who abuses alcohol.
4. A 2015 study showed that about 27% of adults in the U.S. engaged in binge drinking in the last month.
5. In 2010 alone, alcohol abuse cost the U.S. $290 billion.