Alcohol Dependence Signs & Symptoms

What are the signs and symptoms of alcohol dependence?

If you are alcohol dependent you have a strong desire for alcohol. Sometimes the desire is overwhelming and you have great difficulty in controlling your drinking. In addition, your body is also so used to quantities of alcohol you can start to develop withdrawal symptoms 3-8 hours after your last drink, as the effects of alcohol wear off. So, even if you want to stop drinking, it is difficult because of the withdrawal symptoms.

The withdrawal symptoms include feeling sick, trembling, sweating, craving for alcohol and just feeling awful. Convulsions can occur in a small number of cases.

As a result, you drink alcohol regularly because you “depend” on alcohol to prevent these symptoms. If you do not have any more alcohol the withdrawal symptoms usually last 5-7 days, but craving for alcohol can persist longer. We do not recommend you stop drinking suddenly as this can, in some cases, lead to convulsions. The severity of dependence can vary; it can develop gradually and become more severe.


Alcohol Addiction Signs

Cognitive Symptoms

  • Memory problems.
  • Inability to concentrate, or forgetful.
  • Poor judgement.
  • Seeing only the negative.
  • Anxious, or racing thoughts.
  • Constant worrying.

Emotional Symptoms

  • Moodiness.
  • Irritability or short temper.
  • Anxiety, agitation, or unable to relax.
  • Feeling overwhelmed, unable to cope, or losing motivation.
  • Sense of loneliness.
  • Depression, general unhappiness, low self-worth.

Physical Symptoms

  • Aches and pains.
  • Diaorrhea, or constipation.
  • Nausea, or dizziness.
  • Chest pain, or rapid heartbeat.
  • Loss of libido (sex drive).
  • Frequent colds, or lack of energy.




Behavioural Symptoms

  • Eating more or less.
  • Sleeping too much or too little.
  • Isolating from others.
  • Procrastinating, neglecting responsibilities, or loss of interest.
  • Nervous habits,e.g nail-biting, increased smoking, etc.


Other alcohol dependence symptoms:

  • Smell of alcohol on breath, body or clothes.
  • Hiding alcohol in the house/car/workplace, etc.
  • Car accidents, or household accidents.
  • Falls, scrapes, scratches, bumps and bruises.
  • Changing routines, new crowd of friends, new hang-outs, or avoiding old friends.
  • Friends who are heavy drinkers.
  • Paranoia, or suspiciousness.
  • Unexplained need for money, can’t explain where money goes, or even theft.
  • Financial or legal problems, or police involvement.
  • Thoughts of self-harming, thoughts of suicide, or thoughts of ‘ending it all’.


Alcohol-Related Brain-Damage

People who have been drinking large amounts of alcohol for long periods of time run the risk of developing serious and persistent changes in the brain.

Damage may be a result of the direct effects of alcohol on the brain or may result indirectly, from a poor general health status or from severe liver disease. For example, thiamine deficiency is a common occurrence in people with alcoholism and results from poor overall nutrition. Thiamine, also known as vitamin B1, is an essential nutrient required by all tissues, including the brain.

Common indicators of alcohol-related brain-damage:

  • Memory impairment
  • Retrieving information stored in memory
  • Remembering recent events or recently acquired information
  • Confabulation (fabricating memories because of an inability to remember)
  • Problems learning new information
  • Retrograde amnesia (there may be a period in the person’s life of which they have little or no recall, and the period may become larger as time passes)
  • Irrational ideas
  • Resistance to change, or inability to change even when you want to change
  • Inappropriate or difficult behaviour
  • Mood swings
  • Confusion, or disorientation
  • Missed appointments
  • Difficulty staying focused, or repetitious conversation
  • Failure to implement plans or get round to chores



Alcohol Dependence Treatment

If you suffer from many of these symptoms, you may need professional advice and treatment including alcohol detox & rehab. Please contact the Abbeycare Foundation team on 01603 513 091 and they will help you to take the next step to treat your alcohol addiction.


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