Blog - Beach House Rehab Center
March 19, 2021

Characteristics of Alcoholism

It’s a common misconception that alcohol isn’t as dangerous as other, “harder” intoxicants. Drinking is prevalent in many American households, and our culture has normalized the idea of having a glass of wine with dinner or a couple of beers while watching sporting events. 

When people assume alcohol isn’t habit-forming, they might ignore the telltale signs that their drinking has crossed the line between casual and problematic. What are some risks of alcohol abuse, and what traits do addiction treatment professionals look for when diagnosing alcoholism?

The Dangers of Alcohol Misuse

Long-term alcohol abuse can cause an alarming array of physical and mental health problems. People who regularly drink to excess are more likely to experience issues like organ and tissue damage, dementia, disrupted sleep, malnutrition, poor dental hygiene and high blood pressure, among others. 

Meanwhile, alcoholism also makes people more susceptible to developing mental health challenges like depression and anxiety. When these disorders co-occur, it can complicate the diagnosis, and treating both problems simultaneously is crucial.   

What Constitutes Alcoholism?

Identifying a drinking problem in yourself or a loved one might be challenging because denial is a common hallmark of a worsening addiction. Having an alcohol use disorder can cloud judgment and skew someone’s priorities to a point that they often plan their day around drinking. Running out of alcohol might make the addicted person feel anxious or tense until they can get more.

People with the disease of alcoholism may continue to use alcohol as a crutch, despite mounting financial, relationship or career problems. If you’ve ever experienced uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit or significantly cut back on your drinking, that is another red flag of alcoholism.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines alcohol abuse as “a maladaptive pattern of drinking, leading to clinically significant impairment or distress.” If your recurrent alcohol use has led to a failure to fulfill obligations, caused you to take risks like driving drunk, resulted in legal problems or sparked frequent arguments between you and your partner, you may have some or all of the attributes that define alcoholism.

Characteristics of Alcoholism

As a physical and psychological alcohol dependence worsens, you might believe you need to drink daily to feel “normal” or get a full night’s sleep. At this point, the following characteristics of alcoholism may be part of your life.

  • Frequent blackouts or hangovers 
  • Lack of restraint when drinking, leading you to say or do impulsive things you later regret
  • Intense guilt and shame about your compulsion to drink
  • Having cravings or intrusive thoughts about alcohol when you’re sober 
  • Self-isolating or secretive behavior, such as sneaking out to drink alone or having a hidden stash of alcohol at home
  • Gastrointestinal problems like vomiting and nausea

How to Get Help for an Alcohol Addiction

If you have identified the hallmarks of alcoholism in yourself or someone you care about, the next step is determining how to break the cycle of addiction. Alcoholism is a treatable disease that requires professional help. 

Because of the chronic, relapsing nature of substance use disorders, achieving lasting sobriety takes a multi-pronged, evidence-based approach that addresses the behavioral, physical, spiritual and psychological aspects simultaneously. You’ll find this and more at Beach House. Since our founding in 2016, we have deliberately created one of the best addiction treatment facilities in the nation, and a recent ranking from Newsweek magazine is the latest confirmation that we have achieved this goal.

Are you ready to find lifelong freedom from an alcohol addiction in an environment where everyone treats you with the empathy and compassion you deserve? Changing your surroundings can often provide the catalyst you need to make a significant life change. Tour our facility and learn about all the amenities available to residents at our private, beachfront campus, then reach out to our admissions advisors to verify your insurance and make a fresh start in life.