Alcoholism defines the condition of being dependent on or addicted to alcohol. It is actually a disease which develops over time, becoming progressively worse over time. If you suffer from alcoholism you are likely to do whatever it takes to get the next drink, spend large amounts of time thinking about where and how to get the next drink, require more and more drinks to feel satiated, and experience horrible withdrawal symptoms when the levels of alcohol in your body gets less. Alcoholism warps your thinking, affecting your ability to make clear and conscious decisions about the consequences of your drinking.

Symptoms of Alcoholism

The symptoms of alcoholism are several and varied. They include the following:

  • Inability to limit how much you drink
  • Feel a compulsion to have a drink
  • Build up a tolerance so that you need increasingly more drinks to get the same effect
  • Prefer to drink alone or conceal the fact that you’re drinking
  • Go through unpleasant withdrawal such as vomiting, chills, etc. when you don’t get a drink
  • Experience “black outs” where you forget plans or commitments
  • Drink at specific times
  • Become increasingly irritable when your drinking time is drawing closer
  • Have secret stashes of alcohol at home, work or in the car
  • Experience difficulty with your personal life, finances, job, etc. , as a result of drinking
  • Loss of interest in things that you once enjoyed or considered to be important

When to See a Doctor

If you or your loved ones are uncomfortable with how much you drink or the effects of your alcohol consumption; then it is wise to seek professional help. This may not be the easiest thing to do for either party. Alcoholics often live in denial of their problem. You can start with your family doctor who can help you connect with more direct resources for help with a substance abuse problem.

More help for alcoholism can be found in addictions counselors, mental health professionals and support groups like your local Alcoholics Anonymous. Take the advice of your family members who care about you or your doctor who wants what’s best for you and get the help you need to get well.

Are You an Alcoholic?

No one sets out to be an alcoholic. Often this condition creeps up on you. You can tell that you have a drinking problem if you:

  • Feel guilt or shame about your drinking
  • Try to hide your drinking from others
  • Have loved ones who constantly worry about your drinking
  • Feel the need to drink to feel good
  • Forget events that took place while you were drinking
  • Often drink more than you planned

Harms of Alcoholism

Consistently drinking too much can cause any number of the following signs and symptoms:


Feel tired most or all the time

Loss of memory

Drinking causes a chemical imbalance which affects short term memory

Diseases of the liver

Increased chances of developing cirrhosisor hepatitis

High blood pressure

This may damage blood vessels leading to hypertension and other heart diseases

Eye problems

Makes the eye muscles weak causing issues with sight


Alcohol will damage the liver causing an increased chance of developing either diabetes or hypoglycemia.

Gastrointestinal problems

The body becomes less able to digest food and absorb nutrients. Increased risk of ulcers and gastritis

Heart diseases

Heart muscles become damaged which can result in strokes or cardiac arrest

Weak bones

Thinning of bones leading to a higher possibility of fractures

Erectile dysfunction

Having difficulties in getting and sustaining erections

Menstruation problems

Irregularity in menstruation or a complete stoppage of the cycle


Increased risk of developing various cancers includes those of the mouth, throat, breast, esophagus, liver, prostate and rectum, etc.

Nervous system problems

Takes a toll on the nervous system by causing numbness and diseases like dementia

Fetal alcohol syndrome

Women who consume alcohol while pregnant usually give birth to babies with various abnormalities such as cognitive problems and development disorders

Alcohol-related accidents

Alcoholics are more prone to falling and hurting themselves or causing accidents because of drink and drive

Domestic abuse

More prone to domestic abuse like getting beaten by or beating own family members and other conflicts

Suicidal thoughts and behaviors

Influence of alcohol leads to an over-flow of emotions which encourages suicidal and abnormal thoughts

Work (school) problems

Alcohol can increase interpersonal conflict, misbehavior or inability to perform at your maximum potential

Problems with the law

Alcoholics are more likely to have run-ins with the law than non-alcoholics

Mental illnesses

Alcoholics are subject to delusional thinking which can create mental issues or worsen existing mental illnesses

How to Treat Alcoholism

Step 1: Detoxification (Detox)

Detoxification involves using special drugs to cleanse your body of remaining alcohol and prepare you for rehabilitation. It is sometimes done in an emergency to help control the severe effects of an overdose. There are some severe side effects which include chills and hallucinations.

Step 2: Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation can involve either outpatient or inpatient care. Counseling and medication may be combined to train the recovering alcoholic how to cope with life without alcohol.

Step 3: Keep Sobriety

Staying sober after rehabilitation takes much will and strength of character. Experts recommend joining a support group or getting a mentor for added support and accountability.

Step 4: Get Back to a Sober Life

Getting sober is a crucial step towards recovery but it is only the beginning of a very challenging journey. In order to remain alcohol-free you must commit to building a life where alcohol has no place.

  • Take good care of yourself

Practice healthy habits such as eating a balanced diet and exercising. This will not only strengthen your body but help to give you a clear and relaxed mental state.

  • Find support

Connect with people who will bring positive influences into your life.

  • Develop beneficial and healthy activities and interests

Get involved with clubs, communities, volunteer organizations or sporting activities. These will add meaning to your life and leave less of a void for alcohol to fill.

  • Keep treatment

Stay involved with your therapy sessions or support groups. This will give you the continued support you need to prevent a relapse.

  • Learn to handle pressure

Stress and stressful situations can often trigger your return to alcohol abuse. Find creative and constructive means to deal with the inevitable pressures of life such as meditation, yoga, relaxation techniques and exercise.

Learning to detect the signs of alcoholism helps to treat it: