Medically Reviewed by Dr. Mohammed Saeed, MD.
What is Alcoholism?
Alcoholism is a disease that eventually affects almost every part of your body, including parts of the brain that control your feelings, the way you make decisions, and the way you act or react with those around you. People with alcoholism have difficulty controlling how much they drink.
So What Causes Alcoholism? And How Do I Know if I’m an Alcoholic?
We don’t know for certain what causes alcoholism, or even if it’s caused by a single factor or multiple ones. We do know that people with alcoholic parents have a greater chance of getting the disease.
Some doctors believe alcoholism may be related to the things we learn when we are growing up. It’s fairly accepted wisdom that alcoholism is not caused by a lack of willpower or moral values.
How to Determine if You Have Alcoholism?
It is not easy to tell if you have alcoholism. You might drink socially at first, but over time the drinking may get out of control. Your family, friends, or doctor might notice it before you do. You might drink to help yourself go to sleep or deal with stress and anxiety. Over time, you may experience the need to drink more to feel the same way. As the drinking gets worse, you may experience some of the following: (these are from the Mayo Clinic’s site on alcohol disorder.)
Alcoholism Signs and Symptoms May Include:
- Being unable to limit the amount of alcohol you drink
- Wanting to cut down on how much you drink or making unsuccessful attempts to do so
- Spending a lot of time drinking, getting alcohol, or recovering from alcohol use
- Feeling a strong craving or urge to drink alcohol
- Failing to fulfill major obligations at work, school, or home due to repeated alcohol use
- Continuing to drink alcohol even though you know it’s causing physical, social, or interpersonal problems
- Giving up or reducing social and work activities and hobbies
- Using alcohol in situations where it’s not safe, such as when driving or swimming
- Developing a tolerance to alcohol so you need more to feel its effect or you have a reduced effect from the same amount
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms — such as nausea, sweating, and shaking — when you don’t drink, or drinking to avoid these symptoms
You may have a problem if you have tried to quit drinking but were not able to stop. Alcoholism can make you do or say things you wouldn’t do if you were sober. Some of these things can hurt other people, even the people you love.
Where Can I Get Help for Alcoholism?
Your doctor can help you find the right treatment program. You also can check with your health insurance company. But ask the right questions. Some insurance plans cover alcohol treatment only in certain places.
At Into Action Recovery Centers we accept many insurance plans and will usually work with people who are committed to recovery.
If you have been a heavy drinker for a long time, do not stop drinking suddenly. This can lead to serious withdrawal symptoms.
What Is Alcohol Withdrawal?
When you stop drinking, your body may find it hard with no alcohol. If you have been drinking a lot — it almost certainly will. You may also have some uncomfortable feelings. Those are just two of the effects of withdrawal.
You may feel anxious and confused or have trouble sleeping, even if you cut back on your drinking. If you get the shakes when you don’t drink, or if you feel like you need to have a drink early in the day, you may need to take medicine when you stop drinking to help with the withdrawal. This is called detoxification. The key is, do not try to quit cold turkey. You should seek help from people who know what to do.
How Can My Doctor Tell if I Need Detoxification?
Your doctor will likely ask you questions to see if you need to take medicine to stop drinking. It’s important, to be honest with your doctor about how much you drink and the kinds of drugs you take. It may be tough to speak honestly but do it. It’s not about pride or embarrassment — it’s about your life and the lives of your loved ones.
Can You Detox at Home?
It’s not recommended. Attempting to detox yourself at home can be dangerous and life threatening. The best way to ensure that you detox safely is in a facility under the care of a physician and medical staff.
Detoxification should be treated as a medical condition. It is not something to try cold turkey or with a “holistic” approach. When performed at a licensed facility, detox can be comfortable and relatively pain-free, and you can be monitored closely for any medical complications that arise as a result of the process.
Into Action Recovery Centers is a licensed facility that is equipped to help patients who need detox. Our medical staff will monitor you closely to ensure you don’t have any problems.
What Happens After Alcohol Detoxification?
Detoxification is not enough to treat alcoholism. You should have counseling before and after detoxification. Counseling will help keep you from drinking again. Remember, physical addiction is only a part of the problem. Detox will treat that, but rehab is as much about treating the mental issues.
What about Alcoholics Anonymous?
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), is a free support group for people with alcoholism. The people in AA help each other stay sober. Most communities have AA meetings, and most alcohol treatment programs tell their patients to go to these meetings.
Where can I get more information to Answer the Question of How Do I Know if I’m an Alcoholic?
Speak to your doctor or contact us using the information below:
Our knowledgeable staff will get back to you. Or call for a confidential consultation: (844) 694.3576