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Substance Abuse

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Added April 23, 2014

Signs Of Alcoholism

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Drinker or drunk..partying vs. alcoholism..Symptoms, risks, treatment, resources


What are the symptoms or warning signs?

A big part of alcoholism is denial. It's an illness that tells you that you don't have an illness. So it's often hard for an alcoholic to "self-diagnose;" usually your friends know you have a problem before you do.


Here are some signs of alcoholism:

  • Being secretive about your drinking; hiding it or drinking alone.
  • Blackouts. When you "pass out," you basically fall asleep. When you "black out" you're still awake, but don't remember anything that happened. That's because alcohol messes up your memory function. So alcoholics often really can't remember what they said or did. Blackouts are huge warning signs of alcoholic drinking. They are also very dangerous. During blackouts, you may do things you wouldn't ordinarily do, like get violent or sleep with a stranger, both of which have dangerous consequences.
  • Have "personality changes." A lot of people get silly or "tipsy" when they drink. An alcoholic becomes a "different person." You might get angry, violent, or do things that aren't like you.
  • Anger. You get mad when people talk about the drinking problem, or try to give you information.


What are the risks?

Long-term use of alcohol leads to:

  • Cirrhosis of the liver—symptoms are yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes and protruding lower abdomen. (At university health services, physicians have seen cirrhosis in men as young as 1920 who started drinking heavily in their early teens.)
  • Heart disease
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Hepatitis (inflammation of the liver)
  • Cancers
  • Fatigue caused by the sedative properties of alcohol
  • Impaired reasoning and judgment
  • Permanent impairment of speech, vision, and large muscle control


What is the Treatment?

Alcoholism is treatable and controllable, but not curable. It's believed that if you're an alcoholic, you can never drink "safely" or socially, since one drink can trigger the addiction. Therefore, the only treatment for alcoholism (as recommended by Alcoholics Anonymous) is total abstinence. There are also medications that are used to help alcoholics stay away from drinking. With one of these, a person becomes violently ill when she or he drinks.



For someone who has been drinking really heavily or for a long time, a "detox," or detoxification unit of a hospital, may be necessary to deal with the physical withdrawal symptoms. This is usually for a short period of time of two to three days.



Many hospitals and private institutions have alcohol rehabilitation unitstypically 20 to 30 days of inpatient treatment. Because the drinking "habit" is very difficult to shake, people in rehab have the advantage of being away from "people, places, and things" associated with drinking. They also learn a lot about the disease of alcoholism.



If you or someone one you know has signs of alcoholism or drug problems, contact these resources:

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at Free information and other resources on alcoholism 
  • National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependence (NCADD) at 800-NCA-CALL. 
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Free, confidential meetings in every city. Literature, support. 
  • Alateen Free, confidential meetings in many cities for teens who have to deal with alcoholics. Literature, support. 
  • Alcohol/Drug Abuse Referral Hotline at 800-ALCOHOL (800-252-6465)

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comments so far
Posted March 25, 2012
DreamCatcher1912: I am very proud of you it is true courage to not cause harm to yourself when depressed you are a strong person and intelligent enough not to ruin your life with alchohol it will make your life worst not better <3 your school might also help for your depression best of luck! -Michaela
Posted September 30, 2011
I've thought about drinking and still do.Im depressed and there's bottles of bear in the fridge.Its tounting mee.Reading this article helps a little.My granny drinks alot,seeing her that way makes me feel sick.I know if i just took a sip i would get, i guess she kinda inspires me.
Posted July 16, 2011
Makes you scared to even pick up a bottle.
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