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Signs of Alcoholism: When You Need Detox for Drinking

In 2021 it was reported that roughly 62% of the American population drank alcohol within the past year. While consuming alcohol is itself not inherently bad, for the 1 in 13 Americans who abuse alcohol, it’s important to pay attention to the emerging signs of alcoholism. Alcoholism can wreak havoc on families, relationships, jobs, and health. Knowing the signs of alcoholism and when to seek professional help is essential to avoiding a descent into misery and eventual death. 


Signs of Alcoholism


  1. Increased Tolerance: An increased tolerance to alcohol is one of the earliest signs of alcoholism. As the brain becomes accustomed to the presence of alcohol and the reward systems are changed, an individual requires more alcohol to achieve the desired effect. As this occurs, alcohol dependence begins. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a hallmark of alcohol use disorder is an increased tolerance. 

  2. Withdrawal Symptoms: If attempting to quit or cut down on your drinking results in symptoms such as anxiety, elevated heart rate, tremors, nausea, hallucinations or seizures, you are experiencing the effects of alcohol withdrawal. These effects can be extremely uncomfortable and potentially fatal if left untreated. Withdrawal symptoms are a defining aspect of alcoholism.  

  3. Loss of Control: Another sign of alcoholism is the inability to control or reduce drinking. Alcoholics find it challenging to limit their consumption or quit altogether even when wanting to or in the face of mounting health, legal, or personal concerns.
  4. Neglecting Responsibilities: Individuals struggling with alcoholism may begin to neglect their responsibilities at work, home, school, or other areas of their lives. Alcoholism devolves into a cycle of being in withdrawal, drinking, being too drunk to function, passing out, repeat. This makes it incredibly hard to take care of day-to-day tasks and can have serious consequences such as job loss, health issues, and strained relationships. According to a study from the Journal of the American Medical Association, individuals with alcoholism missed work nearly three times more than those without alcoholism.
  5. Increased Time Spent Drinking: Devoting time to obtaining, using, and recovering from alcohol is a sure sign of alcoholism. Anyone caught in the grips of addiction spends the majority of their time focusing on alcohol-related activities/problems.

  6. Continuing to Drink Despite Negative Consequences: Once alcohol has a grip on the mind and body of an alcoholic, they will continue to drink no matter what. Despite the decline of their mental and physical health, personal relationships, financial issues, or legal problems. The effect of untreated alcohol addiction is so great, that nearly nothing can stop it - even a sincere desire to quit. 


Why Detox is Necessary


  • Alcohol withdrawals are part and parcel of alcoholism. Even the most well stocked alcoholic will eventually have to deal with withdrawal symptoms at some point. Medically supervised alcohol detox is a must as coming off alcohol can be fatal. Many alcoholics think they can grit through detox on their own. Here is when it is necessary to enter into an alcohol detox program.

  • Severe Withdrawal Symptoms: Medically managed alcohol detox is a must if an individual is experiencing seizures, tremors, hallucinations, and/or vomiting. One or all of these symptoms can put an enormous strain on vital organs leading to stroke, dehydration, and lack of oxygen to the brain. 

  • Multiple Relapses: If you have tried to stop drinking on your own but continue to relapse, it is in your best interest to seek professional help. With a structured environment meant to break the cycle of addiction, detox programs can get you through the withdrawal process and set you up with aftercare options to ensure continued sobriety. 

  • Co-occurring Mental Health Disorders: Suffering from a dual-diagnosis can complicate alcohol treatment. Detox programs with an integrated treatment plan that can address the alcoholism and the underlying mental health conditions are crucial to long-term success.  

  • Underlying Medical Conditions: Medically managed detox is a must if the individual has any underlying medical concerns. As stated above, alcohol withdrawal puts a large strain on the body and can exacerbate medical conditions. Attempting to detox on your own in this state can be extremely dangerous. 

  • High Alcohol Tolerance: Those with a high tolerance for alcohol are at risk for severe withdrawal symptoms and should be treated at an alcohol detox center immediately. Without proper management of these symptoms medical complications can arise and relapse is nearly certain. 

  • Lack of a Supportive Environment: Detox centers provide case management and will provide individuals with aftercare services like continued treatment at either the inpatient or outpatient level. Without a supportive and alcohol-free environment to return to post detox, the risk of relapse is imminent. 


If you or someone you know may be an alcoholic, pay attention to these signs and seek help. Alcoholism and its subsequent detox should be taken seriously and dealt with by professionals. Call Holland Pathways today to talk with a treatment professional about alcohol detox and how they can help start the journey to recovery. Sobriety is possible, and it begins with detox.