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Physical Signs of Alcoholism

distraught man seated on floor leaning against wall with his head in his hands experiencing the physical signs of alcoholism

In the United States, alcohol is legal, socially acceptable, and culturally expected in many situations. Weddings, Super Bowl parties, and after-work happy hours with co-workers are all part of the fabric of American culture. Because alcohol is not illegal, like many recreational drugs, it becomes much easier for casual drinking to develop into alcohol misuse, then dependency and addiction. Recognizing the physical signs of alcoholism can help indicate if you or a loved one should seek professional treatment.

Most adults who drink moderately don’t worry about physical signs of alcoholism. Alcoholism doesn’t occur overnight, though, and what seems like moderate drinking can turn dangerous over time. Learning the signs of alcoholism can make it easier to intervene and help your loved one or even yourself.

7 Summit Pathways offers a range of substance use disorder treatment programs, including alcohol addiction rehab. We provide treatment and support throughout your entire journey of recovery. Our individualized treatment plans are designed to give you the tools you need to find long-term success.

What Is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a chronic disease that affects the brain and causes an individual to have an uncontrollable desire to drink alcohol despite negative consequences. It is characterized by a physical and psychological dependence on alcohol, leading to compulsive consumption and difficulty controlling one’s drinking habits. The physical signs of alcoholism can be particularly severe and pose significant health risks.

What Are the Physical Signs of Alcoholism?

While alcohol use disorder affects both the mind and body, the physical symptoms of alcoholism can be a strong indicator that professional alcohol rehab is needed. Some of the physical signs of alcoholism include the following:

  • Frequent and excessive drinking — Consuming large amounts of alcohol frequently is a clear sign of alcoholism, especially when there is no reason or occasion for drinking.
  • Tolerance — Developing tolerance towards alcohol means needing more drinks to achieve the desired effect. This can also be a sign of alcoholism.
  • Withdrawal symptoms — When an individual stops drinking or reduces their intake, they may experience withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, sweating, nausea, and shaking. These symptoms can be severe and even life-threatening in some cases.
  • Neglecting responsibilities — Alcoholism can lead to ignoring important responsibilities such as work, family, and personal commitments. This can harm relationships and overall well-being.
  • Changes in appearance — Chronic alcohol consumption can lead to changes in physical appearance, such as redness of the face, weight loss or gain, and bloating.
  • Physical health problems — Alcoholism can cause a variety of physical health problems, including liver disease, heart disease, pancreatitis, and brain damage. These conditions can be life-threatening if not treated.

Alcoholism is a slippery slope that can spiral out of control if it’s left untreated. Recognizing the signs of alcoholism and getting yourself or a loved one the proper treatment can save a life and make a significant difference.

The Four Stages of Alcoholism

There are four stages of alcoholism that can impact how a person approaches detoxification and treatment. Learning to recognize what stage your loved one is in will also help you watch for symptoms and intervene if their signs of alcoholism become more apparent. The four stages are:

Stage 1

During this stage, you may not see many signs of alcoholism. Although the behavior seems typical, social drinking can quickly turn into drinking more often and using alcohol to reduce stress. A person in this stage starts to develop a high tolerance for alcohol as well.

Stage 2

A person in this early stage of alcoholism has already suffered from their first alcohol-related blackout. During this stage, they will start to feel uncomfortable about their drinking but won’t know how to resist it. They may also lie to their friends or family about their habits and try to hide drinking.

Stage 3

During this stage, friends and family members will begin to notice the signs and symptoms of alcoholism. A person may start to drink at inappropriate times, and their social life will become affected by drinking or hangovers. Their physical body can change as well, such as through weight gain or loss.

Stage 4

Finally, late-stage alcoholism includes severe symptoms of alcoholism as well as serious health problems. Everything in their life comes second to drinking at this point.

What started as happy hour drinks after work can become the end of personal and professional relationships, loss of job or income, and lead to legal and financial troubles on top of health problems. Identifying the physical signs of alcoholism can serve as an early detection system for getting you or a loved one the help you need.

Contact 7 Summit Pathways

At 7 Summit Pathways in Tampa, we are what works. We understand that your signs of alcoholism can make you feel hopeless and completely isolated. Our experienced staff will help you safely go through detoxification and give you a new lease on life. Contact us today at 813.212.7149 or reach out online to learn more or schedule an appointment.