What is an alcoholic? How to treat alcoholism

Your friend or family member in early-stage alcoholism will regularly binge drink or drink to the point of blacking out. They’ll likely joke about their blackouts or mention they won’t drink that much again. However, they’ll inevitably drink that much again not long after. Over time it becomes a cycle of binge drinking, blacking out, swearing to cut back, and then starting again. Additionally, the DSM 5 journal indicates 11 diagnostic criteria for determining the presence of an alcohol use disorder. Alcohol abuse of any kind puts people at a greater risk of developing more serious problems over time. Someone who experiences even 2 of the 11 criteria qualifies as having a mild disorder. 6 or more criteria denote a chronic alcohol use disorder, otherwise known as alcoholism. If you have decided that you do have a drinking problem and you want to do something about it, there is a world of help available. The first step should be to contact your healthcare provider and be totally honest about your use of alcohol.

how to recognize alcoholism

To help an alcoholic, you must stop enabling the alcoholic to avoid needing to change. One of the biggest reasons an alcoholic chooses not to address their problem is not because they do not want to; it is because they do not have to. The goal is to continue and increase the motivation and change talk. Confrontational approaches rarely work well in the first two stages of change. These first two stages are pre-contemplation and contemplation. Using confrontational approaches causes the client to speak more on the other side of the argument, which is not changing. If the alcoholic is forced to defend themself, they may dig their heels in and most likely plead their case not to change or stay the same. There are times that confrontation, when used effectively and therapeutically by a professional, can benefit the addict or alcoholic. It is not so much the confrontation as it is the engagement to allow the person to gain insight.

A Word From Verywell

A person may go to the doctor about a medical condition, such as a digestive problem, and not mention how much alcohol they consume. This can make it difficult for a doctor to identify who might benefit from alcohol dependency screening. Some risk factors may also be linked to excessive drinking. Dopamine levels in the brain rise after consuming alcohol. Dopamine levels may make the drinking experience more gratifying. A person who drinks excessive amounts of alcohol will often not be the first person to realize that this is so. Alcohol abuse disorder refers to a long-term addiction to alcohol.

The former causes people to relax while the latter is excitatory and makes them more active. Throughout the following years, Jellinek conducted another study on a wider sample size which led to another piece. He published a follow-up paper in 1952, “Phases of Alcohol Addiction,” that built upon his original ideas. He outlined the unique stages of drinkers categorized by their drinking behaviors.


Unlike other facilities, Free by the Sea maintains contact with our clients after they have completed the residential treatment program. One of the most important things that you can do is to learn as much as you can about alcohol addiction. This will help you to understand what your loved one is going through and why they may be reluctant to seek help. It will also help you to be more supportive and understanding when you broach the topic of treatment. Shifting priorities can be another noticeable change in your loved one. Abandoning priorities to focus on drinking is one of the most apparent characteristics of an alcoholic.

how to recognize alcoholism

Some people seem fine and functional in their daily lives despite their alcohol addiction. Whether you choose to go to rehab, rely on self-help programs, get therapy, or take a self-directed treatment approach, support is essential. Sober Home Recovering from alcohol addiction is much easier when you have people you can lean on for encouragement, comfort, and guidance. Without support, it’s easy to fall back into old patterns when the road gets tough.

Alcohol simply means more to them than it does to other people. However, mild AUD can progress in severity, which is why seeking treatment early is important. how to recognize alcoholism Having at least two of the symptoms indicates that a person has AUD. Depending on how many symptoms a person has, AUD can range in severity.

What does alcoholism look like in a person?

They're suffering consequences from over-indulgence: DUI arrests, job losses, failures in school. They may not even see the correlation between their drinking and those consequences, instead blaming others — overbearing bosses, zealous cops or obtrusive professors — for the problems their drinking has caused.

For many people, alcohol has a strong effect but when consumed in a moderate amount, it is not unhealthy or dangerous. Over time though, excessive drinking can develop into alcohol use disorder , or more commonly known as alcoholism. AUD is characterized by cravings, physical and emotional dependence on alcohol, uncontrollable alcohol use, and negative emotions when not drinking. According to the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse , an estimated 15 million people in the United States have AUD.

Drinking problems and denial

Although similar medication can be taken in pill form, the injectable version of the drug may be easier for people recovering from alcohol use disorder to use consistently. Treatment may begin with a program of detoxification — withdrawal that’s medically managed. You may need to take sedating medications to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Detox is usually done at an inpatient treatment center or a hospital. Your health care provider may do a physical exam and ask questions about your health. There are many physical signs that indicate complications of alcohol use. Living with alcohol abuse means recognizing the triggers that make you want to drink. For example, hanging around with others who drink will make it difficult for you.

What gets you drunk the fastest?

To get drunk fast, choose drinks that have a higher alcohol content, which should be listed on the side of the bottle or can. Also, go with hard liquor over beer or wine since liquor has more alcohol in it. If you prefer mixed drinks, get carbonated drinks with diet mixers, like diet soda, since they get you drunker.

Denial is one of the biggest obstacles to getting help for alcohol abuse and alcoholism. The desire to drink is so strong that the mind finds many ways to rationalize drinking, even when the consequences are obvious. By keeping you from looking honestly at your behavior and its negative effects, denial also exacerbates alcohol-related problems with work, finances, and relationships. Not all alcohol abusers become full-blown alcoholics, but it is a big risk factor.

The pre-alcoholic stage occurs before alcohol is ever a real problem. It’s difficult to identify because alcohol has yet to cause any problems and drinking has not become compulsive. Even those in the pre-alcoholic stage are unlikely to recognize that their drinking how to recognize alcoholism may eventually progress into something serious. If you can identify with one or two stages, please understand that alcoholism is a progressive disease. People rarely spend an indefinite time in the early stages of alcoholism; it almost always progresses eventually.