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Recognizing the Symptoms of Alcoholism

March 26, 2018

man covering glass from alcohol about to be poured in it

Alcohol abuse is an issue that knows no borders. Both psychological and physiological in nature, it impacts the young and the old, the rich and the poor. Nearly 16 million people are thought to have alcohol use disorder (AUD) in the United States, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). This translates to about 6.2 percent of American adults. For those passionate about building a career in service of alleviating this issue, understanding is the first step toward success.

11 Symptoms of Alcoholism

AUD is defined as a “chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences,” according to the NIAAA. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) recognizes 11 common symptoms among individuals with the disease:

1: A person regularly consumes more alcohol over a longer period of time than he or she had planned.

2: A person has a desire to cut down or wholly stop drinking, but is persistently unsuccessful.

3: A person dedicates much of his or her time and resources to acquiring alcohol, drinking it and recovering from the side effects.

4: A person experiences cravings akin to physical addiction.

5: A person fails to fulfill professional, academic and/or familial responsibilities due to excessive drinking.

6: A person consistently uses alcohol despite social/interpersonal problems it causes for him or her.

7: A person sacrifices important social, business and recreational activities in order to drink.

8: A person uses alcohol when it becomes a physical danger to him or herself and others.

9: A person continues drinking even though he or she is aware his or her behavior will change for the worse while under the influence.

10: A person develops a tolerance, which leads to increased volumes of alcohol to continue the effects.

11: A person experiences withdrawal to the point of needing benzodiazepine drugs to simulate the effects.

According to the DSM-5, if a person meets two of the 11 criteria, they will receive an AUD diagnosis.

To determine whether an individual has AUD, symptoms are observed during a 12-month period. A mild diagnosis speaks to the presence of two or three symptoms. Moderate flags the presence of four to five, while severe is categorized by six or more.

The damage caused by AUD commonly extends beyond those suffering from the disorder. Unfortunately, children and young relatives are a commonly impacted group.

Secondhand Symptoms: Effects on the Children of Alcoholics

One in five adult Americans lived with an alcoholic relative while growing up, explains the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology. As adults, these children are at greater risk of developing emotional problems than people who were not raised in a home with an alcoholic. Alcoholism also runs in families. Children of alcoholics are four times more likely than other children to become alcoholics themselves.

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology, children of alcoholics often feel:

    • Guilty or responsible for their parent’s actions
    • Anxious about what will happen when they come home from school
    • Embarrassment of the alcoholic parent’s actions
    • Confused by the parents’ erratic and unpredictable behavior
    • Anger and depression

These emotions may lead to many negative outcomes. Children may suffer academically. They may suffer socially, withdraw from friends and become isolated. They may complain of illness, such as headaches and stomachaches, or they may display aggression toward others as a way of dealing with emotional distress.

Although alcoholism can be devastating, it is also highly treatable disease. Through its online bachelor’s in psychology program, King University trains professionals prepared to make a difference in the lives of those who struggle with addiction.

A Career To Help You Do More

King University offers an online bachelor’s in psychology. King’s online psychology degree is designed to prepare students with the skills they need for many mental health and social services careers. This program teaches students key competencies in psychology, communication, research, and critical thinking .King University offers knowledgeable faculty, an online format designed for ultimate flexibility, and a course of study that can be completed in as little as 16 months.