Alcohol is a substance widely used in the United States. In fact, studies show that 85.6 percent of adults over the age of 18 have had a drink at some point in their lives. Approximately 69.5 percent of these individuals had a drink in the last year, and just over half of them drank alcohol in the last month. This means that the majority of the population has engaged in some sort of drinking at some point, and many of them drink at least monthly.

With alcohol being so commonly consumed, it can be difficult to distinguish between casual, social drinking and something that may be of more concern. Drinking has come to be an expected part of social events, college activities, and celebrations, making it more widely accepted than ever. Alcohol is associated with almost any special occasion and is easily accessible for most people.

Things to Consider

It is important to be familiar with the signs and symptoms of alcoholism in order to detect when you or someone you care about may have a problem. However, alcoholism can present differently for different people. Some may exhibit obvious signs and symptoms, while others may strive for secrecy, desperate to hide their habit. Some may even appear as social drinkers who just tend to have a few too many at times.

Personality and lifestyle variations can play a part in identifying whether someone has lost control and is in need of help. For example, someone with a family, career, and close friends may be more likely to have symptoms detected by those around them. However, they may also be more likely to drink in solitude out of fear of losing these things.

Young adults, specifically in their late teens to early twenties, are especially susceptible to misusing alcohol. Research has shown that people commonly consume the most alcohol between these ages. This is partly a result of the activities many young adults tend to engage in and their lifestyles. Activities can include parties, fraternity or sorority events, weddings, etc. This is usually a time of new independence, exploration, and socialization.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism

While it can be easy to overlook binge drinking or frequent consumption at this age, some common signs and symptoms of alcoholism are worth being aware of. These can include:

  • Blacking out
  • Memory loss
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Shaking or tremors
  • Coordination challenges
  • Slurred speech
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Isolation or secrecy

There can also be some behavioral changes in someone struggling with alcohol use disorder (AUD). These often include more secrecy or isolation. Dishonesty may become common and even habitual if someone is trying to hide their drinking. Being aware of these changes in behavior, in addition to symptom awareness, can be helpful in determining severity.

Identifying a Problem

How do you know you or your loved one actually has a drinking problem? This is the tricky part. According to research, 14.1 million adults have AUD. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “Alcohol use disorder … is a medical condition characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.” It can be mild, moderate, or severe and creates lasting impacts on the brain, making those struggling with AUD more susceptible to relapse. This diagnosis is dependent on the amount of alcohol consumed, the frequency of drinking, and the speed of consumption.

If you are still questioning whether there is a problem, asking some of the following questions could be helpful:

  • Have you ended up drinking more or for a longer duration than you planned?
  • Have you tried to stop drinking or drink less and were unable to meet that goal?
  • Have you felt consumed by the thought of drinking alcohol?
  • Have you found that drinking negatively impacts other areas of your life but continued drinking anyway?
  • Have you engaged in risky behavior while or after drinking?
  • Have you experienced blackout or short-term memory loss?
  • Have you experienced symptoms of withdrawal such as shaking, increased heart rate, sweating, or irritability?

Answering “yes” to any of these questions could indicate a problem, with more affirmative responses indicating a higher, more urgent need for treatment. If a problem is detected, seeking treatment right away is critical. Alcohol increases the risk of various illnesses, including certain forms of cancer and liver or heart disease. Heavy drinking can also impact focus, memory, and mood stability. Seeking help upon realizing the issue can help reduce long-term mental and physical damage.

With most Americans drinking at some point in their lives, and over half of them having consumed at least one drink within the last month, it is safe to say that alcohol is a big part of our society. Alcoholism affects more than 14.1 million adults, and this number continues to rise. With alcohol consumption being such a large part of our culture, it can be difficult to determine when there is a problem. Addiction to alcohol takes a huge toll on one’s mental and physical health and can produce long-term damage by increasing the risk of various illnesses. At Enlightened Solutions, we take a holistic approach to treatment and recovery. We aim to heal the whole person through our various treatment modalities and strive to promote healthy lifestyle changes that are sustainable. If you or someone you love is battling addiction, call Enlightened Solutions today at (833) 801-LIVE.