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Alcohol Abuse and Dependence - Symptoms

Signs of alcohol abuse

  • You have problems at work or school because of your drinking, such as being late or not going at all.
  • You drink in risky situations, such as before or while driving a car.
  • After drinking, you can't remember what happened while you were drinking (blackouts).
  • You have legal problems because of your drinking, such as being arrested for harming someone or driving while drunk (intoxicated).
  • You get hurt or you hurt someone else when you are drinking.
  • You keep drinking even though you have health problems that are caused or made worse by alcohol use, such as liver disease (cirrhosis).
  • Your friends or family members are worried about your drinking.

Signs of alcohol dependence or addiction

  • You cannot quit drinking or control how much you drink.
  • You need to drink more to get the same effect.
  • You have withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking. These include feeling sick to your stomach, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety.
  • You spend a lot of time drinking and recovering.
  • You have given up other activities so you can drink.
  • You keep drinking even though it harms your relationships and causes health problems.

Other signs include:

  • You drink in the morning, are often drunk for long periods of time, or drink alone.
  • You change what you drink, such as switching from beer to wine because you think that doing this will help you drink less or keep you from getting drunk.
  • You feel guilty after drinking.
  • You make excuses for your drinking or do things to hide your drinking, such as buying alcohol at different stores.
  • You worry that you won't get enough alcohol for an evening or weekend.
  • You have physical signs of alcohol dependence, such as weight loss, a sore or upset stomach (gastritis), or redness of the nose and cheeks.

Signs of alcohol problems in children and teens can be different from the ones for adults. For more information, see the topic Teen Alcohol and Drug Abuse.

Do you have a drinking problem?

You might not realize that you have a drinking problem. You might not drink large amounts when you drink. Or you might go for days or weeks between drinking episodes. But even if you don't drink very often, it's still possible to be abusing alcohol and to be at risk for becoming addicted to it.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 17, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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