Alcoholism can be an easy thing to overlook in your loved ones. After all, how do you draw the line between a person who is just enjoying a few drinks and someone who is already dependent on alcohol? What’s more, a person who is dependent on alcohol may feel ashamed or guilty about their dependency, so often they go out of their way to hide their predicament.
In this article, you will learn the early warning signs of alcohol abuse, as well as learn about the tools that you can use to help them overcome their dependency, whether it’s through rehab, support groups, or through recovery healthcare.
Why Is It Difficult to Spot the Warning Signs?
When you think about alcohol abuse, you typically picture an image that’s prevalent in movies or TV: someone who is always visibly drunk, holding a bottle, and obviously suffering. They also look unkempt, unhealthy, and in obvious need of an intervention from friends and family.
In real life, however, it’s not always easy to see the warning signs. There are times when the signs and symptoms are evident, but there are also times when it’s difficult to distinguish whether someone you love is truly struggling with alcohol abuse.
The most common reason why it’s difficult to spot the warning signs is that the person in question might go to great lengths to try and hide their problem. When in the company of other people, they could still look and function normally, and even go out of their way to pretend that they are not suffering from alcoholism. What’s more, it can be difficult and awkward to confront a person with alcoholism. Indeed, many people feel hesitant to directly ask their loved ones if they have a problem. Mainly because if they are proven wrong or even if they are not, it might strain their relationship with that person.
What If I Want to Just Ask Directly?
If you are close enough with the person and feel comfortable asking them directly, you can use the CAGE questionnaire to determine whether they are having trouble with excessive alcohol consumption. For men, two positive responses to the questionnaire will indicate alcoholism, while for women, even a single “yes” points positive for alcohol abuse.
Difference Between Signs and Symptoms
When it comes to alcoholism, the signs and symptoms of the condition are two different things. Signs are physical manifestations of the condition, while symptoms are changes in behavior or attitude.
The common signs of alcoholism include the constant smell of alcohol on the breath of the person, sudden and severe weight loss or weight gain, broken capillaries around the eyes or nose, dry skin and hair, and yellowish skin and eyes. Keep in mind that signs such as changes in weight and yellowing in the eyes and skin are signs of long-term alcohol abuse.
The common symptoms of alcoholism are much more varied and can be different from one person to another. Therefore, detecting alcoholism through symptoms can be more difficult, since these symptoms can be attributed to other conditions such as depression or substance abuse. Of course, the most obvious symptom of alcohol dependence is constant drunkenness, but people who struggle with alcoholism may also exhibit other symptoms such as sudden, violent or sullen behavior, withdrawing from their friends or family, loss of appetite, or unwillingness to go to work.
Removing the Stigma from Alcoholism
The biggest problem when it comes to treating alcoholism is that people who struggle with it also must bear a deep-rooted stigma. Many people believe that alcoholism befalls people who are weak-willed and unable to cope with their problems without the help of alcohol. However, alcoholism has already been defined as a disease by the American Psychiatric Association. The clinical term is “alcohol use disorder”, thus a person who has this condition should be treated with the same respect and compassion as anyone who is suffering from any other recognized disorder.
How to Help Someone with Alcoholism
Depending on the severity of their condition, there are several ways that you can help a person who is having trouble letting go of their alcohol dependency. For people who are diagnosed with mild alcoholism, a strong support system with friends and family is often enough for them to overcome their condition.
For those who are diagnosed with moderate alcoholism, external third-party help might be required. You can begin by finding support groups that center around giving alcoholics assistance and a safe space to talk about their struggles and victories.
For those who are diagnosed with severe alcoholism, you might need to get professional assistance. Special healthcare programs are a possible option, as recovery healthcare clinics are staffed by trained professionals who can tackle the many issues behind alcohol dependency.