Alcohol Symptoms and Warning Signs

Understanding the symptoms and effects of alcoholism can help you recognize when someone you love needs help.

Signs of Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse is defined as any consumption of alcohol that negatively impacts the user. This includes the effects on the health of the user (hangovers or alcohol-induced accidents) and the social effects (doing or saying regrettable things while intoxicated). This encompasses health effects, such as bad hangovers and alcohol-induced accidents, as well as social effects, such as doing or saying regrettable things while intoxicated.

Alcoholism often begins when an individual is in their early 20s and is characterized by frequent heavy drinking. Frequent, heavy drinking increases the tolerance level to alcohol. It can cause social and health problems for the abuser. Binge drinking and alcohol abuse can start in the teenage years or even earlier, though adults and the elderly may pick up the habit too.


Signs of alcohol abuse include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Lack of coordination
  • Rambling or repetitive statements
  • Difficulty standing up or walking
  • Disorientation
  • Agitation or anxiety
  • Glassy or blank stares

The Dangers of Alcohol Abuse

Because drinking alcohol is socially acceptable, many people don’t recognize the damaging effects it has on others. The effects of alcohol can be seen in many forms from having a drink or too during happy hour after work or frequent binge drinking.

Long-term abuse of alcohol affects every organ in the body. Some organs, such as the liver and the brain, are affected more than others.

Many people drink and only feel a buzz. The results of alcohol abuse continues to persist after the initial period of intoxication. Short-term side effects of alcohol abuse can include:

  • trouble breathing
  • impaired judgment
  • headaches
  • blackouts
  • nausea
  • distorted vision and hearing

The long-term effects of alcohol are more serious and lead to death. Some of the common long-term effects of alcoholism include:


Anxiety disorders

Chronic pancreatitis

Brain damage

Neurological impairment

Compromised immune system

Studies have shown that those who began using alcohol as a teen are five times more likely to develop a dependence on alcohol compared to those who began drinking at 21. Teens who abuse alcohol also have significant issues with normal brain development.

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Recognizing an Alcohol Addiction

As with other drugs, alcoholism is diagnosed on a spectrum. There are 11 criteria for recognizing an addiction, with different levels of severity based on the number that apply.

In 2013, an estimated 16.6 million adults in America had an alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Diagnosing an alcohol addiction can be difficult. When a person drinks heavily, there is a dependence on the alcohol. However, the heavy drinking doesn’t mean that the person has a disorder – at least not by the clinical definition.

A mild alcohol use disorder is one where the drinker only meets two or three of the criteria for addiction. Four or five of the criteria met indicates a moderate disorder. The more of the criteria that is met, the more severe the disorder is considered to be. This is what most people think of as alcoholics.

When the alcohol begins to take a priority over the relationships, responsibilities and health in a person’s life, it is generally recognized as an AUD. Recognizing an AUD comes down to the negative effect of alcohol on the user’s life. Millions of people suffer from alcohol abuse and addiction. There are many rehabilitation centers and programs designed specifically for treating alcohol addiction.

Intervention for Alcoholics

There are many ways to help someone you believe has an alcohol use disorder. Sometimes they are not willing to go to treatment. If they are unwilling to go to treatment, you might consider staging an intervention. It is a daunting task to tell someone you care about that they have a problem.

Treating your loved one with care and respect is important. During the intervention, focus on how the alcohol is  affecting you and others emotionally or physically. The most important thing with an intervention is that it comes from a place of concern and not blame and judgment.

Withdrawal from Alcohol, Treatment and Next Steps

Alcohol detox, or cleansing the body from all physical traces of alcohol, is the first step towards recovery. The abuser has developed a dependence on the alcohol and their body may not function properly without it.

The detoxification process can be dangerous. Alcohol is one for the few drugs whose withdrawal symptoms can be fatal. Therefore, it is crucial to have medical supervision during the detoxification process.

You don’t have to go through the recovery process alone. People who can assist you with the struggles you’re facing are available. Get in touch with us now for help.