Alcoholism Symptoms: Causes and Treatment

If you think you may be experiencing alcoholism symptoms, reaching out for help from a treatment center can help you heal and develop coping skills.


Overview of Alcoholism

Have you ever thought about how alcoholism affects people’s lives? The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) notes overconsumption of alcohol causes up to 95,000 deaths in the US every year. Alcohol is one of the country’s top causes of preventable death. Alcoholism symptoms can also cause harm over time to those with substance abuse disorders.1

Alcoholism Symptoms

Scope of Alcoholism

Men are more likely to develop an alcohol substance abuse disorder than women are. Also, people between 18 and 34 tend to struggle with alcohol more than other age groups. However, alcoholism is a disease that can impact anyone. Even though alcohol can cause serious problems, it is still a widespread societal and recreational substance. This can lead to chronic physical health issues and may even harm personal relationships.

Drinking too much alcohol can also be expensive. Alcohol abuse costs the US billions of dollars annually in lost productivity and extra healthcare expenses. It’s not just lost wages, either. People can also face legal fees and fines for crimes committed while under the influence of alcohol.2

What is Alcoholism?

How Much Alcohol Is Too Much?

Alcoholism is caused by excessive drinking, which can also lead to physical and mental dependence. It often causes intense cravings for alcohol and the inability to function well without it. It can severely affect your health, relationships, and overall well-being. Experts recommend drinking in moderation to avoid alcoholism. For women, this means having no more than one drink a day, while men should stick to no more than two. One drink, in this case, means either 1.5 ounces of liquor, five ounces of wine, or 12 ounces of beer.3

Assessing Your Alcohol Consumption

You can also gauge your drinking habits by observing how much you consume during an average week. For women, taking more than seven drinks per week or more than three drinks daily is considered “heavy” or “at risk” drinking. For men, it’s more than 14 drinks in a week or more than four drinks daily. It’s important to be mindful of how much you drink to help avoid alcoholism symptoms later on.

What Are Common Alcoholism Symptoms?

Alcoholism symptoms can vary from person to person. They also range from mild to severe. It’s important to keep track of any symptoms you or a loved one may be experiencing to know if you need to take steps to address these symptoms later on.

Physical Symptoms

Paying attention to the alcoholism symptoms can help you determine if someone has a problem with drinking and needs to take measures to address it. If you have a severe alcohol problem, it may take more alcohol before the effects of drinking become noticeable. Some common physical alcoholism symptoms include:
  • Short-Term Symptoms: Short-term symptoms may include slurred speech, poor coordination, slow reaction times, blurry vision, alcohol poisoning, and hangovers.
  • Long-Term Symptoms: Long-term alcoholism can lead to malnutrition, liver damage, brain damage (especially in teens), anemia, and seizures. It can also cause high blood pressure, an increased risk of heart attack or stroke, and an increased risk of cancer. For those who have battled alcoholism for a long time, they may also have issues with sexual dysfunction, gout, dementia, a weakened immune system, and osteoporosis.

Behavioral Symptoms

Alcoholism symptoms can affect your behavior both in the short and long term.
  • Short-Term Symptoms: You may experience short-term symptoms like increased risk-taking, aggressive or belligerent behaviors, reckless driving, or engaging in risky sex.
  • Long-Term Symptoms: Long-term symptoms can affect your social life, like isolating yourself from loved ones, struggling to keep up with work or school responsibilities, and withdrawing from friends and family. You may also be secretive, stop doing things you used to enjoy, or drink before situations that make you anxious.
Alcoholism Symptoms

Mental and Emotional Alcoholism Symptoms

Due to what alcohol does to the brain and body, it can cause mental and emotional signs of alcoholism. Alcohol has the potential to affect your mood and lead to erratic behavior as well. When you drink, the chemicals in your brain become out of balance, leading to these mental and emotional alcoholism symptoms. These problems can happen right away or over time.

In the short-term, alcohol can make you angry, irritable, and forgetful. It may even make you lose consciousness. Over time, you may need more alcohol to feel the effects as you once did. This is called building tolerance. At the tolerance level, you may not be able to pay attention to important matters as well as you used to. You may also struggle with intense cravings.

Long-Term Mental Health Symptoms of Alcoholism

Long-term mental health symptoms of alcoholism can lead to many other issues as well, including:
  • Chronic anxiety
  • Severe depression
  • Aggression and irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Paranoia
  • Reduced self-esteem
  • Inability to focus

Other Alcoholism Symptoms

Alcohol abuse can be problematic for not only the person abusing alcohol, but their loved ones around them as well. One such example is that drinking alcohol while pregnant runs the risk of harming the unborn child. The baby may be born with brain damage, develop problems with growth, have delays in development, and have issues with balance and coordination.

There is no treatment for pregnancy-related alcoholism, as even a tiny amount can cause serious problems. This is why it’s especially important for pregnant women to seek out help if they’re experiencing alcoholism symptoms.

Dangers of Withdrawal

Additionally, if you drink extensively and then quit, you might develop dangerous alcoholism symptoms caused from withdrawal. Symptoms include shivering, sweating, nausea, a rapid heartbeat, and difficulty sleeping. Also, if you drink copious amounts of alcohol for a long time, you may develop a dangerous condition called delirium tremens (DTs). DTs are highly hazardous and could cause you to see things that are not there or have seizures.4 DTs can be very dangerous. If you are experiencing this symptom, make sure you reach out to a treatment center today, as it may be beneficial to go through detox with medical staff by your side.

A Deeper Look at Delirium Tremens (DTs)

AUD Stats

How Alcoholism Can Negatively Impact Your Wellness

Alcoholism can hurt various facets of your life, especially if it develops into an alcohol substance abuse disorder. Even if you think you may have your drinking under control, it can affect various areas of your life more than you may think. The following are some potentially affected areas:

Social Life

Your relationships with your friends, family, coworkers, and loved ones can suffer from alcoholism. Alcoholism symptoms, over time, can make you feel socially isolated and cut off from the people you care about, which often exacerbates the situation.

Financial Stability

Alcohol symptoms and abuse may be pretty costly and can result in financial issues. You might overspend on alcohol or miss work due to drinking. This can result in a loss of employment, making it even more difficult to pay for essentials like food and rent.

Emotional Health

Alcoholism symptoms can affect your mental health and lead to emotional problems, such as depression and anxiety. If you drink too much, you can become irritated or have mood fluctuations as well.

Physical Well-Being

Excessive drinking can result in bodily issues like liver damage, heart disease, and other medical conditions. Abusing alcohol over a long time can harm your body and increase your risk of getting sick. If you believe you may struggle with alcoholism symptoms, it’s critical to look after your health and get assistance. Reach out to a skilled and compassionate treatment center, such as Essence Healthcare, if you or a loved one need assistance.

What Are Some Causes & Risk Factors of Alcoholism Symptoms?

If you struggle with alcoholism symptoms, it’s important to understand what can lead to it. Although experts cannot pinpoint a specific cause of substance abuse disorders, they have identified multiple risk factors that may be involved. Environmental, biological, and psychological elements all play a role for those who develop alcoholism symptoms. However, it’s important to remember that just because someone exhibits some of these factors, this does not mean that they will develop alcoholism – they just have a higher chance of developing a substance abuse disorder later on.

Biological Factors

The physiological effects of alcohol abuse are not always the result of drinking too much. According to studies, there is a strong connection between alcoholism and one’s biological makeup. Some people can manage how much they drink, while others feel as though they are powerless to stop drinking. For some, having a few drinks can make them feel great, which may cause a craving for more. Repeating this behavior can make it easier for someone to develop alcoholism symptoms. There are brain chemicals that can increase the likelihood of alcohol abuse. Scientists think up to 51 genes in different parts of your chromosomes might be linked to alcohol addiction. A propensity for alcoholism may run in the family if certain genes are handed down as well.5

Frequent Drinking

If you drink alcohol in more moderate amounts, there is less of a chance of you developing alcoholism symptoms. But the risk of health problems increases when you drink more than experts say is safe. Alcoholism is more likely to develop in people who use four or more drinks per day (for women) or seven or more drinks per week (for men). Some people start drinking substantially a few times per week, especially when they are stressed. It’s possible that drinking at this rate will cause some people to develop a tolerance for alcohol and eventually become alcoholics.

Mental Health Issues

Psychiatric conditions are another possible origin of alcoholism symptoms. An underlying mental illness, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, greatly increases a person’s risk for developing alcohol use disorder. Several mental health issues, including anxiety, grief, and depression, have been linked to AUD. Sometimes, these issues are caused by the alcoholism itself, which can make both issues worse over time.6

Emotional Issues

Problems with one’s self-esteem are another factor that might lead to alcoholism. It’s more common for people who have poor self-esteem to resort to alcohol as a means of dealing with any negative feelings they have about themselves. This can cause emotional pain and stress. It may seem like a good approach to dismiss these feelings by drinking more often, but this is not a healthy method to deal with difficult situations. It can lead to addiction and dependence on alcohol.

Starting to Drink Early in Life

Drinking alcohol at a young age can have serious consequences. National data shows that adults aged 26 and over who started drinking before age 15 are more than 5x as likely to report having AUD than those who didn’t start drinking until they were 21 or later. This tends to affect women more than men as well.7

Familial Factors

Your family dramatically impacts how much and how often you drink, which is a big part of how you act. If your parents or other close relatives drink a lot of alcohol or try to get you to drink, you are more likely to struggle with alcoholism symptoms later on in life. This is especially true if you grew up in a family or community where drinking was normalized.

Environmental Factors

Your living situation can also affect how likely you are to get AUD. Living close to places where people drink, like bars or liquor stores, can make it easier to get alcohol and expose you to it more. Advertisements and promotions for alcoholic beverages might also influence your drinking habits. Also, if you are under a lot of financial pressure, you may find that drinking alcohol helps you relax and forget about your problems.


If you experience a traumatic event, this may make it more likely that you’ll start using alcohol as a coping mechanism. Because of this, one runs the risk of developing an addiction to alcohol. Trauma can cause alcoholism in various ways. Trauma can cause severe mental pain, like anxiety or depression, making it hard to stop consuming intoxicants alone without professional help. Some people end up drinking to dull the pain and try to forget about the problem at hand. Alcohol consumption is one method that people sometimes use to help them get through traumatic experiences. It might give you a short break from the pain and suffering that the traumatic event has caused. Yet, doing so poses a risk, as it may lead to alcoholism symptoms later on. Trauma often makes people feel isolated and as if they don’t have ample support. Therefore, some people drink alcohol because they think it helps alleviate feelings of loneliness. However, doing this without working through the trauma at the root can cause many issues.

Religion-Related Struggles

Even though religion cannot be the sole factor in determining whether or not someone will develop a substance abuse disorder, it can be a factor in determining how someone feels about alcohol. Some religions have strict rules about drinking alcohol, which may make some people drink less. On the other hand, these rules may make people more likely to lash out against what they know, which can also lead to more struggles with substances later on in life.

Peer Pressure and Social Influence

It’s common for teenagers and young people in high school and college to strongly desire to integrate and feel like they belong with their peers socially. Heavy drinking has long been accepted as normal behavior among young adults. However, continuing this behavior over time may lead to the development of alcoholism. However, peer pressure is not limited to the younger generation. The use of alcoholic beverages is socially accepted in many different societies. As a result, adults may feel social pressure to partake in this activity to fit in and be accepted. Also, images of drinking in the media frequently have a romanticizing aspect, which applies to people of all ages.

Alcohol and Adolescent Peer Pressure: How to Say No

Alcoholism Symptoms

Essence Healthcare Can Help With Alcoholism Symptoms

If you are experiencing symptoms of alcoholism, you may initially notice subtle signs, such as drinking more frequently to relieve stress or unwinding after a long day at work. This can be a sign that you are beginning to develop an alcohol use disorder. Your drinking habits may become more severe over time, leading you to place an increased emphasis on alcohol to the detriment of your family, friends, responsibilities, and interests.

Reach Out and Receive Support and Guidance

If you or a loved one are struggling with alcoholism symptoms, do not be afraid to seek assistance if you are experiencing symptoms of alcoholism. Essence Healthcare can help you work through any issues related to alcoholism and get you back on track. Our compassionate and skilled staff will work with you to create an individualized plan to make sure any symptoms you’re experiencing will heal. We will be with you every step of the way during your recovery. Reach out to us today if you or a loved one need help today.
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Questions About Treatment?

We are a patient-first substance abuse and mental health treatment facility located in Los Angeles, California. At Essence Healthcare, we provide different levels of care from detoxification to drug rehab aftercare. Our team is standing by to address your questions. Your call is confidential and no obligation is required.