What are some signs of alcohol abuse or dependence?
Certain behaviors may mean that you're having trouble with alcohol. These
- Drinking in the morning, often being drunk for long periods of
time, or drinking alone.
- Changing what you drink, such as switching
from beer to wine because you think it will help you drink less or keep you
from getting drunk.
- Feeling guilty after drinking.
- Making excuses for your drinking or doing things to hide your
drinking, such as buying alcohol at different stores.
remembering what you did while you were drinking
- Worrying that you won't get enough alcohol for an
evening or weekend.
How are alcohol problems diagnosed?
problems may be diagnosed at a routine doctor visit or when you see your doctor
for another problem. If a partner or friend thinks you have an alcohol problem,
he or she may urge you to see your doctor.
Your doctor will ask
questions about your symptoms and past health, and he or she will do a physical
exam and sometimes a mental health assessment. The mental health assessment
checks to see whether you may have a mental health problem, such as
Your doctor also may ask
questions or do tests to look for health problems linked to alcohol, such as
How are they treated?
Treatment depends on how
bad your alcohol problem is. Some people are able to cut back to a moderate
level of drinking with help from a counselor. People who are addicted to
alcohol may need medical treatment and may need to stay in a hospital or
Your doctor may decide you need
detoxification, or detox, before you start treatment.
You need detox when you are
physically addicted to alcohol. When you go through detox, you may need
medicine to help with withdrawal symptoms.
After detox, you focus
on staying alcohol-free, or sober. Most people receive some type of therapy,
such as group counseling. You also may need medicine to help you stay
When you are sober, you've taken the first step toward
recovery. To gain full recovery, you need to take
steps to improve other areas of your life, such as learning to deal with work
and family. This makes it easier to stay sober.
You will likely
need support to stay sober and in recovery. This can include counseling and
support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. Recovery is a long-term process, not
something you can achieve in a few weeks.
Treatment doesn't focus
on alcohol use alone. It addresses other parts of your life, like your
relationships, work, medical problems, and living situation. Treatment and
recovery support you in making positive changes so you can live without