Alcohol addiction symptoms: The 13 signs you’re not just a ‘casual drinker’

Lee Ryan opens up about alcoholism on Loose Women in 2019

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The average British adult drinks 9.7 litres of pure alcohol per year – that’s about 18 units of alcohol a week. The NHS recommends drinking no more than 14 units a week, spread across three days or more… so it’s clear that a lot of us are drinking an unsafe amount. Express.co.uk reveals the 13 signs that you’re not just a casual drinker and you’re addicted to alcohol, according to the experts at Delamere.

At its simplest, alcohol addiction can occur when a person is unable to control or moderate the amount that they are drinking.

This can sometimes happen over a slow period of time that starts with social drinking and moves through to heavy drinking and then dependency.

In total, there were 104,880 adults in treatment for alcohol between 2019 and 2020.

A huge 68 percent of people starting alcohol treatment this year were self-referred, so it’s crucial to know the signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction to get help as soon as you need it.

Having a few drinks with your friends every now and then won’t do you too much harm, but it’s worth noting that drinking alcohol on a regular basis is a causal factor in more than 60 medical conditions.

This includes deadly conditions like mouth, throat, stomach, liver and breast cancers; high blood pressure, cirrhosis of the liver; and depression.

The experts at Delamere said: “Alcohol addiction is at the chronic end of the spectrum of alcohol use disorders for which there is no cure.

“It can, however, be successfully treated and the sooner treatment is undertaken the better for the individual concerned and their loved ones.”

Alcohol misuse is defined as drinking in a way that is harmful or being dependent on alcohol, and the NHS advised everyone to drink no more than 14 units a week to prevent this from happening.

It’s easy to turn a blind eye to how much you’re drinking, but counting your units could really save you from becoming addicted to alcohol or harming your health.

A unit of alcohol is 8g or 10ml of pure alcohol, which equates to about half a pint of lower or normal-strength lager, beer or cider, a single small shot measure of spirits, or a small glass of wine.

If you’re already drinking more than that and feel as if you can’t stop – you might be addicted.

If you are unsure whether you or a loved one’s drinking habits count as alcohol dependency or addiction, look out for these signs:

  • A compulsive need to drink and difficulty controlling the amount you drink
  • Drinking in the morning or feeling the need to drink first thing
  • Worrying about where your next drink is coming from
  • Suffering from withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, sweating, and shaking that stop when you drink alcohol.
  • Becoming isolated from family and friends
  • Spending less time at work or doing other activities because of drinking
  • Acquiring a tolerance to alcohol and having to drink more to reach intoxication
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms like tremors and restlessness when not drinking
  • Turning to alcohol or similar substances to avoid withdrawal
  • Using alcohol for longer than planned and in greater amounts
  • Not being able to reduce alcohol use despite attempts to curb its use
  • Continuing to drink despite being aware of the problems it may be causing
  • Drinking of thinking about Alcohol most of the time.

Alcohol misuse has both short-term and long-term health risks.

For example, when drinking you increase your risk of accidents and injuries requiring hospital treatment, violent behaviour, unprotected sex that could lead to unplanned pregnancy or STIs, and alcohol poisoning.

In the long term, you are increasing your risk of early death and life-threatening diseases.

In 2019, there were 7,544 alcohol-specific deaths in the UK and 77 percent of these were alcohol-specific deaths.

If you’re struggling with alcohol addiction, see your GP or visit your local alcohol addiction service for immediate help.

Excessive drinking can cause major health problems. For more information, see Drinkaware.co.uk.

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