As an alcohol use disorder doesn’t develop overnight, the signs of its presence can start appearing long before you recognize that there’s a real problem. As these warning signs emerge, friends, family, and coworkers may notice and avoid commenting on what they see as a pattern of behavior in you related to drinking. So today, let’s talk about some of the most common signs you’re living with an alcohol use disorder right now, some of the risk factors for developing an alcohol use disorder, and how to find treatment when you need it.
Women who start drinking at an early age are at an increased risk of developing an alcohol use disorder, and other risk factors can include daily drinking, being raised by a parent with a drinking problem, and living with a mental health disorder, whether diagnosed or not. Signs of alcohol use disorder include feeling compelled to drink daily or binge drink, failing to fulfill work responsibilities due to drinking, and socially isolating to hide drinking habits. A woman who recognizes she may have an alcohol use disorder should seek treatment beginning with medically-supervised , and consider a program for co-occurring mental health disorders.
Risk Factors for Alcohol Use Disorder
We’ll put these factors in the form of a question you can ask yourself. Some of these questions will be easier to answer, while others may need some time. Keep in mind, not every risk factor must be present to have an alcohol use disorder.
- When did I start drinking? Early drinking (long before the legal drinking age) puts people at a higher risk of developing an alcohol use disorder.
- What were the drinking habits of my parents/caretakers? Having a parent or caretaker with a drinking problem adds to the risk of you developing alcohol use disorder.
- How does alcohol show up in the lives of people in my peer group or in my community? Routine excessive drinking normalized through people around you can be one of the environmental factors contributing to alcohol use disorders.
- Have I suffered any kind of trauma, whether diagnosed or not? Trauma survivors are at a higher risk for developing an alcohol use disorder, and the trauma could come from physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual abuse.
- Have I experienced any mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety? It’s not uncommon for someone with an alcohol use disorder to have a co-occurring mental health disorder. In some cases, the mental health disorder may go undiagnosed until a person seeks .
- How much and how often do I drink now? Feeling compelled to drink daily or binge drinking routinely are signs of an alcohol use disorder.
Common Signs of Alcohol Use Disorder
An alcohol use disorder can be mild, moderate, or severe, and the symptoms will vary from case to case. You may recognize some of these signs in your life. We’ll phrase each one in the form of a question.
- I feel a strong urge to drink. Yes or No?
- I struggle to limit my number of drinks. Yes or No?
- I have missed work/school/other responsibilities due to my drinking. Yes or No?
- I keep drinking regularly even though I am aware it’s having a negative impact on me. Yes or No?
- I have developed a higher tolerance to alcohol since I started drinking. Yes or No?
- I avoid social situations to hide my amount of drinking. Yes or No?
- I drink when I know it’s not safe. Yes or No?
- I continue to drink even when I see it’s hurting my relationships? Yes or No?
- I notice withdrawal symptoms, including nausea and sweating, when I attempt to quit drinking. Yes or No?
Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder
If you recognize the warning signs of alcohol use disorder and you’re ready to explore treatment options, it’s critical not to attempt withdrawal on your own at this point. A treatment facility offering a medically-supervised detox will allow you to safely experience withdrawal without the medical complications you’re likely to suffer at home. If your alcohol use has led to other medical conditions, including malnutrition, a treatment facility with comprehensive medical services is recommended as a part of overall treatment for the alcohol use disorder.
Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders
If you suspect you have at least one of the mental health conditions mentioned above or you have been previously diagnosed with one of them, such as anxiety or depression, it’s helpful to seek dual diagnosis treatment at a facility offering that option. A multidisciplinary team consisting of expert psychologists, psychiatrists, and master’s level clinicians comes together to create a program integrating treatment for substance use and mental health disorders. Trauma therapies can also be a part of the healing process for women who have experienced traumatic events at any time in their lives.
Hannah’s House is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 561.841.1272.