What are the symptoms of alcohol?

Recognize symptoms of alcohol addiction and act correctly

People like to toast a birthday, a passed exam or the New Year with a glass of sparkling wine. A wine is served with dinner and the football game is followed with a bottle of beer - the consumption of alcoholic beverages is a fixed ritual on many occasions and is often indispensable and unquestioned in a social gathering. An occasional drink, i.e. drinking small amounts of alcohol every now and then, is considered harmless. It is worrying, however, when alcohol is consumed regularly and no longer as a stimulant but as a daily necessary addictive substance, for example to cope with stress or to relax.

In the following post you can read what alcohol addiction is, what consequences it has and how it can be treated.

What is alcohol addiction and how can it be recognized?

The transitions between moderate alcohol consumption, alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction are fluid and the development into a dependency usually takes place gradually over the years. There are a few signs that suggest an alcohol addiction.

Morbidly dependent on alcohol

Alcohol addiction, also known as alcoholism or alcoholism, describes the physical and psychological dependence on alcohol. The addiction to the substance ethanol contained in alcoholic beverages is recognized as a disease and is one of the most common addictions in Germany.

Access to the addictive substance is very easy thanks to beneficial drug and addiction policies. The legal, socially predominantly accepted drug alcohol, advertised in commercials and on posters, can be bought cheaply in the supermarket, in the kiosk or in the pub and consumed in public.

The consumption of alcohol does not necessarily lead to addiction, of course, and to enjoy an alcoholic drink in a responsible and controlled manner from time to time is largely considered to be low-risk. Nonetheless, the occasional consumption of alcohol can develop into alcohol addiction. Whether the glass of wine at dinner is an indispensable matter of course, alcohol is usually used as a coping strategy in stressful situations and whether the occasional drinking becomes a regular and habitually high consumption depends on several factors such as the genetic predisposition and personality of the person.

How do you recognize alcohol addiction

The term alcohol addiction should not be confused with the term alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse is defined as the consumption of alcohol if it is accompanied by the risk of damage to physical health, impairment of the psyche and problems in the social environment. Alcohol abuse is a precursor to alcohol addiction and, like the transition from one, to alcohol moderate to abusive consumption, alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence merge without any clear distinction.

If the consumption of alcohol becomes an addiction, the addictive substance becomes more and more important in the life of the person affected. A few characteristics can be used to determine whether there is a dependency. If three or more of the following criteria are found to be applicable within a period of one month, an alcohol disorder can be diagnosed according to the current edition of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10):

  • A strong desire to obsessive-compulsive need to consume alcohol is felt.
  • The ability to control both the amount and the beginning, duration and end of consumption is diminished.
  • If consumption is stopped or at least reduced, physical withdrawal symptoms such as B. tremors, sweats and insomnia.
  • A tolerance is formed, i. H. an increasing amount of the addictive substance is necessary to achieve the desired effect.
  • Alcohol moves into the focus of thought, other interests are neglected.
  • Consumption continues despite the health and psychological consequences and knowledge of the possible negative effects.

What are the consequences of alcohol addiction?

While acute alcohol intoxication with bodily function, balance and consciousness disorders that occurs after a single consumption is usually survived relatively lightly, chronic alcohol intoxication, i.e. continued intoxication by ethanol, has serious consequences for the body, psyche and social life.

Physical consequences

Regular high alcohol consumption can have fatal consequences for the entire human organism. Since the liver is mainly responsible for breaking down the alcohol that is supplied, this organ in particular is affected. Continued consumption of alcoholic beverages can lead to fatty liver disease, liver inflammation, liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. But not only the central metabolic organ can be massively damaged. Since alcohol is distributed throughout the body via the bloodstream, damage can occur in all tissue structures. The cell toxin alcohol can change brain structures, so that memory, logical thinking and the ability to concentrate deteriorate. For example, it can cause inflammation of the stomach and esophagus as well as stomach and esophageal cancer, promote the development of malignant tumors in the oral cavity and throat, increase the risk of heart disease, damage nerve tracts, cause high blood pressure and lead to erectile dysfunction.

Psychological and social consequences

Constant consumption of alcohol can have negative effects on a person's personality. Mood swings, irritability, aggressiveness, lack of drive, anxiety and depression can occur.

In most cases, the family members of the person concerned are the first to register excessive alcohol consumption and suffer directly from the behavioral changes of the partner, or even the mother or father, and often the problems that arise sooner or later mean the end of the relationship. Social contacts with friends and acquaintances are often lost and problems in everyday professional life or the loss of a job can sometimes lead to long-term unemployment and, as a result, to financial hardship.

Treatment options for alcohol addiction

Before deciding to take action against excessive alcohol consumption, the consumer must understand that his drinking behavior is a problem. An alcoholic can try to tackle his addiction on his own or seek professional help and seek therapy. Treatment for alcohol addiction is often divided into four phases.

Phase 1: contact

Visiting a counseling center offers the opportunity to plan further therapeutic measures together with expert staff. The presentation of the individual situation helps to be able to adapt the further procedure as best as possible to the needs of the person concerned. For example, the question of whether the therapy should be carried out on an outpatient or inpatient basis can be clarified.

Phase 2: detox

The aim of detoxification is to overcome the physical dependence on alcohol. Since the addictive substance is withheld from the body, it must be assumed that it reacts with strong withdrawal symptoms. In addition to symptoms such as tremors, sweating and nausea, delirium tremens (anxiety, restlessness, confusion, hallucinations, seizures, increased breathing rate, increased blood pressure, accelerated heartbeat) can occur. It is therefore advisable to carry out the withdrawal in a hospital under professional supervision and, if necessary, with medical support.

Phase 3: weaning

The weaning therapy can be carried out on an outpatient basis if the corresponding stable living conditions are given; Those who need some distance from their old life and the familiar structures can also spend the weaning period as an inpatient. In this phase, the psychological dependence on alcohol should be overcome and the person affected learn how to lead a life without alcohol.

Phase 4: Follow-up Care

The aim of the aftercare phase is to permanently prevent the relapse into old behavior patterns, i.e. the consumption of alcohol, and to consolidate the therapeutic success. The necessary support is provided by appointments at an addiction counseling center and regular visits to a self-help group.