Am I An Alcoholic: Questions to Ask Yourself
By The Recovery Village Atlanta
Editor Melissa Carmona | Medically Reviewed By Jenni Jacobsen, LSW
Last Updated: April 19, 2023
Editorial Policy | Research Policy
Alcohol abuse and addiction may not always manifest in obvious ways. Some individuals may notice that they consume more alcohol than intended or constantly think about their next drink. Meanwhile, others may depend on alcohol to manage stress or use it as a daily habit after work.
These represent only a few of the various emotional and physical indicators that could suggest an underlying issue with alcohol. If you have concerns about your or a loved one’s alcohol use, it’s important to recognize the signs of alcohol addiction and identify appropriate sources of assistance.
What Is Considered Alcoholism?
Alcoholism is a chronic condition where a person compulsively consumes alcohol despite the negative consequences associated with it. The medical term for alcoholism is an alcohol use disorder. This condition is classified as a psychological disorder and defined by the World Health Organization as a dependence syndrome, which involves a range of physical, psychological, and social symptoms. An alcohol use disorder is a progressive disorder associated with physical and psychological dependence on alcohol. The person is unable to control their drinking and has an increased tolerance of alcohol. Signs of an alcohol use disorder include drinking to excess, blackouts, inability to limit drinking, and cravings for alcohol.
Types of Alcoholics
Depending on the severity and length of time of alcohol abuse, there are several different types of alcoholics that experts have identified.
Chronic Severe Alcoholic
The chronic severe alcoholic is a person who has a long-term addiction to alcohol and is unable to control their drinking. They will often drink to excess and may experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop. They are at high risk of alcohol-related health problems, such as liver damage, and may also suffer from depression.
The functional alcoholic is a person who manages to maintain a relatively normal life despite their drinking problem. They may appear to be functioning well and hold down a job, but their drinking often affects their relationships and health.
Intermediate Familial Alcoholic
The intermediate familial alcoholic is someone whose drinking problem is influenced by their family environment. They may have grown up in a family where alcohol was used to cope with stress or where alcohol was seen as a positive thing. They may also have a family member with an alcohol problem, which can make it more difficult for them to stop drinking.
Young Adult Alcoholic
The young adult alcoholic is someone who has developed a drinking problem before reaching adulthood. They may have started drinking at an early age or have started drinking heavily in their late teens. They are at risk of developing long-term alcohol-related health problems and psychological issues.
Young Antisocial Alcoholic
The young antisocial alcoholic is someone who has developed a drinking problem in their teenage years and is also prone to antisocial behaviors. These individuals are at high risk of alcohol-related health problems and may experience difficulty when it comes to socializing and forming relationships. They are likely to be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder and to experience addictions to other substances, including cocaine and opioids.
Difference Between Casual Drinking and Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol abuse and alcohol use disorder describe two different things. Alcohol abuse refers to drinking alcohol in a way that causes physical, mental, emotional, or social harm to oneself or to others. This may include drinking too much, drinking in inappropriate settings, drinking while operating machinery, or drinking while pregnant. Alcohol abuse can lead to health problems, legal problems and relationship problems.
Alcohol use disorder is a more serious condition in which a person’s drinking becomes compulsive and they are unable to control their drinking. This may include drinking excessively, binge drinking, or drinking to cope with difficult emotions or situations. Alcohol use disorder can lead to serious health, social and legal problems, such as:
- Liver damage
- Heart problems
- High blood pressure
- An inability to manage daily tasks
- Relationship problems
- DUI or DWI charges
How Do You Know if You Are an Alcoholic?
If you’ve been drinking alcohol regularly and find that you’re having trouble controlling your consumption, it may be time to ask yourself if you’re an alcoholic. It’s important to recognize the signs of an alcohol use disorder so that you can get the help you need and start living a healthier and happier life.
Warning Signs of Alcoholism
- Frequent intoxication
- Repeatedly neglecting responsibilities
- Developing a tolerance to alcohol
- Trouble controlling drinking
- Drinking alone or in secret
- Experiencing blackouts
- Feeling guilty or ashamed about drinking
- Neglecting personal hygiene
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Making excuses for drinking
Questions To Ask Yourself
- Are you consuming more alcohol than originally intended?
- Do you feel unable to reduce your alcohol intake?
- Have you ever experienced extended periods of sickness due to excessive drinking?
- Do you experience intense cravings for alcohol that impact your ability to concentrate?
- Has alcohol interfered with your responsibilities such as taking care of family, maintaining employment, or succeeding in school?
- Do you persist in drinking despite conflicts with loved ones?
- Have you lost interest in activities that were once meaningful to you?
- Do you frequently find yourself in harmful situations due to drinking, such as driving while intoxicated?
- Do you persist in drinking despite exacerbating other health issues, experiencing depression or anxiety, or blacking out?
- Do you find yourself needing to drink more to achieve the desired effect due to increased alcohol tolerance?
- Do you regularly experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms when you haven’t been drinking?
Getting Help For Alcoholism
An alcohol use disorder is a serious medical condition that requires treatment in order to achieve lasting recovery. Treatment for alcohol abuse often begins with medically supervised alcohol detox, which is a period of medical monitoring and support as the body rids itself of alcohol. Detox is necessary because alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous and even life-threatening.
Following detox, ongoing treatment usually includes inpatient alcohol rehab. Rehab gives clients the opportunity to focus on their recovery with the support of a safe and sober environment as well as a team of professionals trained in treating alcohol addiction. Inpatient rehab typically lasts several weeks, and focuses on both physical and psychological aspects of recovery. Patients receive counseling, education and support, and learn strategies to prevent relapse while also developing healthier lifestyle habits. After completing an inpatient program, many clients transition to an outpatient program within the community.
If you’re looking for alcohol addiction treatment, The Recovery Village Atlanta offers a range of treatment options, including medical detox, residential care and partial hospitalization programming. Contact us today to learn more or to begin the admissions process.
Our Recovery Advocates are ready to answer your questions about addiction treatment and help you start your recovery.
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- World Health Organization. “Alcohol.“>Alcohol.” May 9, 2022. Accessed February 28, 2023.
- National Institutes of Health. “Researchers Identify Alcoholism Subtypes.“>Research[…]ism Subtypes.” June 28, 2007. Accessed February 28, 2023.
- Kim, Dong Wook; Kyung, Hyun; Bae, Eun-Kee; Park, So-Hee; Kim, Kwang K. “Clinical predictors for delirium tremens in patients with alcohol withdrawal seizures“>Clinical[…]awal seizures.” The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, May 2015. Accessed February 28, 2023.