As increasing numbers of people experience various alcoholism symptoms, more and more individuals are asking
how they can better cope with or eliminate these symptoms.
Perhaps this will come as a surprise, but there are psychological, social, and spiritual symptoms of
alcoholism that can be just as painful as the better-known physical alcoholism symptoms.
Psychological Alcoholism Symptoms
Most people typically focus on the physical symptoms of alcoholism and the recovery process.
Our intent is not to deemphasize the physical symptoms of alcoholism but to point out that there are other
alcoholism symptoms such as psychological, social, and spiritual symptoms that can be just as debilitating and
painful as the physical symptoms.
The psychological symptoms of alcoholism are as follows:
- Loss of willpower
- Loss of control
- Poor concentration
- An increase in failed promises and resolutions to one's self and to others
- Obsession with drinking
- Loss of interests
- Denial of the effects of alcohol
- Sleep problems
- Cloudy thinking
- The collapse of the alibi system
- Unreasonable resentments
Social Alcoholism Symptoms
The following represents the social symptoms of alcoholism:
- Serious relationship and work-related problems
- Blaming problems on others and on things external to themselves
- Difficulties and arguments with family or friends
- Devaluation of personal relationships
- Withdrawal from social activities
- Legal problems
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Difficulties performing at work or home
- Financial insecurity
Spiritual Alcoholism Symptoms
The spiritual symptoms of alcoholism are as follows:
- Feeling useless
- Dysthymia (mild chronic depression)
Physical Alcoholism Symptoms
It is clear that alcoholism physically affects people while they are addicted and also when they want to recover
from this disease and, unfortunately, experience withdrawal symptoms.
One way to look at the physical symptoms of alcoholism is to focus on the typical alcoholic behaviors in the
various stages of alcoholism.
Physical Alcoholism Symptoms - First Stage
The following represents some of the alcoholism symptoms and behaviors in the first stage of alcoholism:
- Lack of recognition by the person that he or she is in the early stages of a progressive illness
- An ability to drink great amounts of alcohol without any apparent impairment
- Gross Drinking Behavior - more frequent drinking of greater amounts
- Increasing tolerance
- Boasting and a "big shot" complex
- A conscious effort to seek out more drinking opportunities
Physical Alcoholism Symptoms - Second Stage
The following represents some of the alcoholism symptoms and behaviors in the second stage of alcoholism:
- Sneaking extra drinks before social events
- Chronic hangovers
- Drinking because of dependence rather than for stress relief
- Physical problems increase
- Unsuccessful attempts to stop drinking
- More frequent blackouts
- Gulping the first few drinks to feel the "buzz" faster
- Sporadic loss of control
- Increasing tolerance
Physical Alcoholism Symptoms - Third Stage
The following represents some of the alcoholism symptoms and behaviors in the third stage of alcoholism:
- Problems with the law (e.g, DUIs)
- The start of physical deterioration
- Frequent violent or destructive behavior
- Half-hearted attempts at seeking medical aid
- Aggressive and grandiose behavior
- Avoidance of family and friends
- Increased tremors
- A decrease in alcohol tolerance
- Neglect of necessities such as food
- Loss of control has become a pattern
- The development of an alibi system - an elaborate system of excuses for their drinking
Physical Alcoholism Symptoms - Fourth Stage
The following represents some of the alcoholism symptoms and behaviors in the fourth stage of
- Unreasonable resentments and hostility toward others
- Loss of tolerance for alcohol
- "The shakes"
- The "DTs"
- Moral deterioration
- Benders, or lengthy intoxications
- Continual loss of control
- Auditory and visual hallucinations
- Loss of tolerance for alcohol
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is a group of symptoms exhibited by individuals who stop drinking alcohol after a
pattern of continuous and excessive consumption. These alcohol withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to moderate
to severe and include both behavioral and psychological components.
Mild to Moderate Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
The following represents mild to moderate physical alcohol withdrawal symptoms that typically occur within 6 to
48 hours after the last alcoholic drink:
- Insomnia, sleeping difficulties
- Headaches (especially those that pulsate)
- Involuntary, abnormal movements of the eyelids
- Loss of appetite
- Abnormal movements
- Sweating (especially on the face or the palms of the hands)
- Tremor of the hands
- Clammy skin
- Looking pale, without color
- Rapid heart rate
- Eyes or pupils different size (enlarged, dilated pupils)
Severe Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
The following represents severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms that typically occur within 48 to 96 hours after the
last alcoholic drink:
- Visual hallucinations
- Delirium tremens (DTs)
- Severe autonomic nervous system over activity
- Black outs
- Muscle tremors
What To Do When Experiencing Withdrawal Symptoms
The first concern when experiencing alcohol withdrawal should be "who should I contact about the alcohol
withdrawal symptoms I am experiencing" rather than "what helps for alcohol withdrawals?"
When experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms, always see your doctor or healthcare provider immediately so that
he or she can assess the severity of your situation and suggest the best option for treatment.
Conclusion: Alcoholism Symptoms
Based on the above, it is clear that alcoholism symptoms affect people when they drink, when
they try to quit drinking, and when they involve themselves in the recovery process and, regrettably, experience
alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Based on an analysis of the information articulated above, however, there are four important messages regarding
the symptoms of alcoholism.
First, alcoholism leads to a series of damaging and painful physical, psychological, social, and spiritual
symptoms that will continue to get worse unless the person stops drinking.
Second, a critical step in the recovery process is acknowledging the fact that drinking has become a problem and
then possessing the desire and the will to stop drinking.
Third, once the alcoholic reaches this point, the next hurdle to overcome is how to best handle the alcohol
withdrawal symptoms that usually follow.
Fourth, the most effective and reasonable way to cope with and overcome alcohol withdrawal symptoms is to
immediately see a doctor or healthcare provider so that he or she can assess the severity of the problem and
suggest the most appropriate form of treatment.