Director of Behavioral Health Central Intake Services at Catholic Health Lawrence Ferber, Ph.D., shares how knowing the symptoms of alcoholism can make a difference in finding healthier coping mechanisms, getting proper treatment and heading down the path to recovery.
Are you drinking more to cope with stress? Has socialized drinking—like a drink of wine at dinner—become more frequent, including binge drinking or drinking during the day?
Now is the time to recognize that you may be developing a dependency on alcohol before it becomes a more severe problem.
Our lives and the world around us are full of stressors. Knowing the symptoms of alcoholism can make a tremendous difference in finding healthier coping mechanisms, getting proper treatment and heading down the path to recovery.
"We are exposed daily to news of individuals suffering from substance abuse, which might lessen the interest in alcohol addiction," said Catholic Health Chief of Behavioral Health Dr. Ronald Brenner. "Yet, alcohol addiction remains an immense, at times silent killer, in our society."
What are the warning signs?
- Drinking more than planned or intended.
- Failing to fulfill obligations at school, work or home (prioritizing drinking despite responsibilities, leading to missed school or work).
- Continuing to use despite negative impacts on relationships, financial situation or health.
- Using in situations that could be physically hazardous, like drinking and driving.
- Showing an increased tolerance to alcohol (drinking more to achieve the same desired effect). Because the brain changes with alcohol abuse, one of the first physiological signs of addiction is building tolerance.
- Experiencing physical or psychological withdrawal symptoms when attempting to stop drinking (anxiety, depression, insomnia, nausea, sweating, hand tremors/"the shakes," confusion, seizures and visual hallucinations).
- Losing interest in once-enjoyed activities or becoming socially isolated.
- Becoming dishonest or secretive, aggressive, moody, or temperamental. People who have an alcohol addiction will try to hide it. One reason for hiding it can be the person's denial system, which appears to grow alongside the addiction. In other words, concealing and lying about using can be a defense mechanism to keep the addiction alive and thriving.
- Craving alcohol, such as drinking first thing in the morning.
- Spending excessive time thinking about drinking, acquiring alcohol and recovering from hangovers.
What are the physical signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction?
- Rapid weight gain or loss
- Slow or staggering walk
- Inability to sleep or stay awake
- Unexplained bruises or marks
- Glazed or red eyes
- Cold, sweaty palms or shaking hands
- Puffy face, blushing or paleness
- Nausea, vomiting or excessive sweating
- Low or no energy
- Depressed or anxious
- Deterioration of personal appearance or hygiene
How do I get help?
You’ve taken the first important step in recognizing your drinking is becoming a problem that needs to be addressed. At Catholic Health, our dedicated professionals are here to help you.
We offer services and programs across Long Island to help with substance abuse problems. Our experts are skilled in all aspects of detoxification, rehabilitation and recovery. We create a treatment plan that fits your unique situation and needs. Because recovery is ongoing, we also provide tools to help you maintain a substance-free life.