Alcoholism is an addiction that can slowly build up in various aspects of your lifestyle until you feel helpless or alone. To prevent these feelings and get the help you need proactively, learn the warning signs of addiction and how they show up in subtle ways. The first step to recovery and successful treatment is to notice the warning signs and respond appropriately. Understanding the lifestyle changes you may experience at the early stages of addiction will help you educate yourself, find the appropriate resources, and respond in a healthy way. Explore these warning signs if you are struggling with addiction for ideas on how to cope and seek help early on.
Uncharacteristic mood swings are one of the most subtle yet preliminary symptoms of alcohol addiction. Although many people have mood swings for various reasons, do not discount a random or dramatic one as a warning sign. The signs of drinking dependence are sometimes caused by anxiety, drastic life changes, and depression, each of which impacts the likelihood of drinking and exaggerate responses to stress. Relying on alcohol can often trigger stress and irritability in situations where you may otherwise stay calm. If you notice yourself snapping at others, changing from happy to angry in a short amount of time, or changing moods without reason after drinking, seek help.
If you’ve begun to re-prioritize events or tasks in your life to accommodate drinking, you may be exhibiting an unhealthy reliance on alcohol. Making false excuses for not showing up to work, not performing at your best, avoiding seeing others, or neglecting responsibilities is a warning sign that you are beginning to value drinking above other areas of your life. A healthy next step when you notice this symptom is to ask for help and say the words out loud to acknowledge you are beginning this pattern. When you allow a professional to step in to support you early on, you can begin recovery in a healthy way.
The onset of addiction can feel incredibly lonely and disheartening. This can cause people who suffer to rely on alcohol more, or it can cause them to isolate themselves further from loved ones if they begin to feel hopeless or judged. If either of these reactions occur when you regularly drink, you are likely coping with your addiction through social detachment. An effective way to acknowledge this sign is to reach out to your support group, whether it is an organization specifically for alcoholism or simply loved ones. By communicating your struggles with isolation and need to feel accepted, your support system can do what it does best and show you that you are not alone.
Alcohol withdrawal is one of the warning signs of alcoholism that has a serious toll on your physical health if not taken care of correctly. Anxiety, dehydration, irritability, low energy, and more are signs that you might be experiencing alcohol withdrawal. For those struggling with addiction, drinking more is a “default” response to attempt to ease those symptoms. If you can seek help, there are other ways to overcome withdrawal. Consider holistic recovery centers to help you detox along with a treatment team trained to support you. Enlist your support group to help you change environments if you need to spend time away from temptations. Seeing a doctor, eating healthy, and hydrating are also healthy first steps if you experience withdrawals.
Decrease in Self-Care
The last warning sign of alcoholism to look out for is a decrease in personal care. The difference between a “slump” and alcohol-related decline in self-care is that a slump occurs for a short period, whereas alcoholic activity resulting in serious differences in hygiene and care. If you’ve begun regularly drinking and notice you are less motivated to eat healthy, shower, sleep well, and exercise due to prioritizing alcohol over these habits, it is a warning sign. Responding to this tendency proactively can look like working with a nutritionist to support you during recovery or setting clear goals to slowly improve your self-care. No matter what self-care looks like, pay attention to how your habits are impacted if you struggle with alcoholism and ask for help.
Take the First Step Against Alcoholism
Noticing the warning signs of alcoholism and addiction requires self-awareness, honesty, and the willingness to ask for help. You are not alone if you experience these signs or build a dependence on drinking. There are resources available to help you recover regardless of your struggles. By learning how to respond to the signs of addiction in a healthy way, you can feel supported and safe if you need treatment. Recovery is a lifelong process you can feel confident in if you are willing to take the first step and notice the signs when it’s time to ask for help.
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