The Signs & Symptoms Of Alcohol Abuse
How many people in the United States drink alcohol? A lot. The 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that 86.4 percent of U.S. residents eighteen years old and older said they had consumed alcohol at some point in the course of their lives. In the same survey, 70.1 percent of Americans reported drinking in the past year.
Unfortunately, alcohol abuse is also a problem for many U.S. residents. About 26 percent of individuals aged eighteen and older said they were involved in binge drinking in the previous month. (Binge drinking is drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short amount of time.) Identifying warning signs of alcohol abuse may help individuals determine if or when they need help.
Common Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol abuse is a type of substance misuse. According to the U.S. surgeon general, “substance misuse is the use of alcohol or drugs in a manner, situation, amount, or frequency that could cause harm to the user or to those around them.”
When people abuse alcohol, they often begin by engaging in casual drinking or social drinking. Or, people may have a few drinks to relieve stress. People who misuse alcohol struggle with alcohol abuse. If this abuse continues, they could become physically dependent on alcohol and suffer from alcoholism or alcohol use disorder (AUD). Alcohol abuse, alcoholism, and AUD may create social and health problems that negatively impact a person’s life. Different alcohol abuse symptoms may help identify if a person needs treatment. Some of the warning signs may be difficult to recognize.
For example, people might isolate themselves or drink in private to try to conceal their alcohol abuse. This may present challenges to their family members because they will not know when help is needed or when they need to hold an intervention. It might also be easy to overlook mild alcohol abuse, but this again may be harmful to the individual over time. Some harmful symptoms of alcohol misuse include
- Temporary blackouts or short-term memory loss
- Excuses for drinking, such as saying that you are drinking to cope with stress, relax, or feel normal
- Signs of irritability
- Isolation from friends or family members and drinking in secret
- Bloodshot eyes
Even if people are experiencing mild alcohol symptoms, they should take them seriously. Seeking treatment during the early stages of alcohol abuse offers a better chance for recovering and enjoying happy, healthy lives.