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Signs and Effects of Alcoholism

Written on January 5, 2024
Signs and Effects of Alcoholism

The effects of alcoholism can be far-reaching. Not only does the individual struggling to feel these effects, but their loved ones often do not make it out unscathed. Drinking can have major impacts on a person’s health. It can also lead to a severe decline in personal and mental well-being.

Alcoholism is a condition that affects many lives across the country, and understanding its effects on health and wellness can be beneficial when deciding to stop drinking. 

Alcoholism Statistics

Alcohol is a substance that is commonly abused in the United States. The fact that it is legal and easily accessible can play a role in this. Knowing the effects of alcoholism is vital when it comes to deciding to get sober.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a 2022 survey reports that 23.5% of the people who were surveyed had disclosed binge drinking within the last month. This study also showed that 16 million adults had reported heavy drinking within the same time frame.

Binge drinking and heavy alcohol consumption play a role in the individual developing an addiction, or alcoholism. 

Alcohol Use Disorders

As previously stated, the effects of alcoholism are far-reaching. There are different things that could be indicative of problematic drinking. Many people often say they’re going to go out for a drink with friends after work to relax and unwind.

However, when one drink turns into 5 to 6 drinks, and the individual cannot control this happening, this could be a sign that drinking is a problem. When an individual feels like they need to drink to cope with their day, this could be a sign of a problem with alcohol. The biggest sign that alcohol is a problem is experiencing withdrawal symptoms when unable to drink. 

If there is a thought that alcohol is a problem, an individual should speak to a professional. Diagnosis of an alcohol use disorder begins here. This professional may ask questions surrounding alcohol use, perform a physical exam, suggest further testing, and perform a psychological exam. All of these steps can help to identify alcohol as a problem and be a catalyst for getting help.

Signs of Alcoholism

Alcoholism can be tricky. It is sometimes blatantly obvious that someone is struggling, while others can hide it more easily. Individuals often adapt to the effects of alcoholism so that they can hide their struggles. The stigma surrounding alcoholism is a contributing factor in the latter.

Being aware, and identifying signs of a potential problem can help when it comes to the individual starting a healthier lifestyle.

Signs that could be indicative of alcoholism include:

  • Hiding drinking/drinking habits
  • Neglecting home, work, or school responsibilities to drink
  • Engaging in risky behaviors when drinking (drinking and driving)
  • Legal problems 
  • Continued drinking despite negative consequences
  • Turning to alcohol to cope

Risk Factors for Alcoholism

While alcoholism does not discriminate when it comes to who will be affected, several risk factors could play a role in whether someone could develop the condition or not. Alcoholism can be devastating, and being aware of these risk factors can aid in prevention.

These factors can include genetics, family history, mental health conditions, and personality. Alcoholism can also be affected by a person’s environment. Growing up in an environment where alcoholism is present can play a role in an individual’s drinking.

End-Stage Alcoholism

Alcoholism can lead to impacts on health and well-being. Drinking leads to concerns with health, as well as mental health. Alcohol is a depressant, and for individuals who struggle with diagnosed or undiagnosed mental health conditions, this can be dangerous.

Alcoholism can also lead to the development of these conditions or others. The effects of alcoholism on a person’s physical health can be devastating. End-stage alcoholism is life-threatening and should be addressed with a medical professional.

Delirium Tremens

Delirium tremens, or DTs is a condition that occurs as a result of alcohol abuse. It is a rare, but life-threatening condition that requires medical supervision to prevent fatal results. DTs occur as a result of alcohol withdrawal. It is characterized by tremors and shakes, confusion, and anxiety.

Along with these symptoms, the individual could exhibit psychosis, including hallucinations and/or paranoia. Hyperthermia, tachycardia, and seizure can also be a result of DTs, and this is why it is imperative to have proper care when going through alcohol withdrawal. 

Organ Damage

The effects of alcoholism wreak havoc on the body. Internal organs are not left unharmed. Drinking can lead to organ damage and potentially organ failure. Cirrhosis is a condition commonly associated with alcoholism. Cirrhosis occurs due to swelling and scarring in the liver.

The liver is a vital organ, when it swells and gains scarring, it does not work as well as it should. This leads to fat build up, and toxins being improperly filtered through the liver. Cirrhosis can be fatal, especially if left untreated.

Early Intervention for Alcoholism

Getting healthy again is possible. Getting help for alcoholism is the first step. Safely and effectively going through detoxification can help during the beginning stages of recovery.

Getting this help as quickly as possible helps to prevent the dangerous effects of alcoholism such as DTs and organ damage. The sooner this condition is treated, the better the chances of prevention.


Alcoholism treatment is available for those seeking help. Once detox is completed, learning new skills can begin. Treatment for alcoholism can help individuals to learn positive skills that can be implemented when things get hard. This helps to prevent the old, negative behaviors and helps to prevent relapse.

The different therapies provided through treatment for alcoholism aim to help the individual sustain long-term recovery.

Get the Care You Deserve

Alcoholism can be a life-altering condition, especially if left untreated. Struggling with alcohol can lead to severe impacts to overall health and well-being, and contribute to complications in underlying conditions.

For those who struggle with alcohol, there is help available. At Flatirons Recovery, we offer specialized and tailored care based on the individual’s needs to overcome alcoholism. If you or a loved one are struggling, we can help.

Call us today and begin a journey to a happier, healthier lifestyle.