What Are Some of the Common Signs of Alcohol Dependence?

Diablo Valley Treatment on June 24, 2019

Many people know what it’s like to go a little overboard with their drinking. While alcohol is legal, many people don’t know that it is a drug. And, can lead to the development of severe addiction. Unfortunately, alcohol addiction, or alcoholism, isn’t uncommon at all. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, in the year 2015 alone, just over 15 million adults over the age of 18 were diagnosed with alcohol use disorder. Due to these statistics or experience in your life, you may be wondering if you’re struggling with alcohol use disorder too. Maybe you’ve had too much fun at a party. Or, you’ve had a stressful week at work and wanted to loosen up a little. These are common occurrences in our society. They aren’t, however, indications that a person has a problem with alcohol abuse or dependence. So, it’s important to recognize the actual signs of alcohol dependence.

Defining Alcohol Dependence

When a person is dependent on alcohol, they aren’t able to control their cravings. They have an intense desire for alcohol and feel like they need to drink more. A person who struggles with alcohol dependence physically relies on the influence of alcohol. The person usually has a tough time functioning without something to drink. If people who are dependent stop drinking for a little while, they’ll experience the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome. They’ll feel nauseous and anxious. But, for those who have become really dependent, the withdrawal symptoms can be really serious. People can start having hallucinations and convulsions. They can even become completely disconnected from reality.

The Signs of Alcohol Dependence

What Are Some of the Common Signs of Alcohol Dependence?We’ve already mentioned that people who a problem with alcohol dependence also have trouble avoiding alcohol. This is because they have a physical dependence and their bodies react negatively when there is no alcohol in their systems. But, there are some other signs of alcohol dependence:

  • People who are dependent will be very concerned about when and how they will get something more to drink. This concern could manifest itself in questions like, “Will there be drinks there?” Of course, everyone looks forward to having some fun at events. But, if a person is constantly thinking about drinking, he or she may be dependent on alcohol.
  • A person who drinks first thing in the morning is showing one of the signs of alcohol dependence. Even if they simply feel the need for a drink in the morning, it may be an indication of dependence.
  • A person might be physically reliant on alcohol if he or she gets defensive when someone mentions the problem. The person might be in denial about the drinking issue.
  • Another one of the signs of alcohol dependence is irresponsibility. Sometimes, people who have a drinking problem lose interest or motivation to hang out with friends or fulfill family duties.

If people continue to drink excessively, even after they’re warned about health dangers, they are dependent on alcohol. Some people want to stop drinking but they feel that they can’t. Their bodies have become physically attached to the substance.

Individuals might act out of their character. They can become aggressive or passive. Both are signs that the brain and body have become altered because of the person’s alcohol use.

One Sure Sign of Alcohol Dependence

While the signs and symptoms of alcoholism above may help individuals determine if they struggle with alcohol use disorder, there is one sure way to characterize alcohol dependence. When a person is physically dependent on an addictive substance, their brain chemistry changes to allow for continual use. These changes result in the brain needing the addictive substance the body depends upon for proper function. So, those who are dependent upon alcohol will experience adverse reactions to the absence of alcohol when it’s not in use. These are known as withdrawal symptoms. Some withdrawal symptoms of alcohol can include:

  • Restlessness
  • Irritability and agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Shakes/tremors
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Auditory and visual hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Delirium tremens

It’s important to note that the withdrawal symptoms experienced by those struggling with alcohol use disorder are seriously dangerous. Alcohol and benzodiazepine withdrawal are the ONLY TWO substances on this planet which, when the body is dependent on them, can lead to withdrawal death. So, it’s crucial to find help during the detox process, before treatment can begin. Help for alcohol detox should include medical supervision and medicinal treatments to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Without this help and assistance, individuals put themselves at risk for experiencing these extreme withdrawal symptoms. And, experiencing the complications which come with them, including death.

Treating the Signs of Alcohol Dependence at Diablo Valley

Now that you know more about the signs of alcohol dependence, what should you do? It can be really hard to take action against this problem. Do you have a friend or family member who might be fighting alcohol dependence? Or maybe you think you might need help treating your own struggle. Whatever the case, Diablo Valley Drug & Alcohol Services is here to help.

We provide help through a Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT). Here at Diablo Valley, we understand that withdrawal from alcohol can be a really bad experience. People sometimes relapse because of the discomfort that comes with withdrawal. Or, put themselves at risk for experiencing the dangerous withdrawal symptoms from home. To help individuals detox safely from alcohol, we use medications like Suboxone and Vivitrol. These medications stop people from feeling those symptoms so they can focus on becoming free from alcohol dependence. And, provide a systematic and personalized approach to safe detox called medication assisted treatment.

Starting with a Clean Slate After Opioid Abuse Treatment

After detox from alcohol, we offer patients in our program the experience of treatment through comprehensive therapies. Our intensive outpatient approach to treatment allows our patients to get the structured support they need without having to live at treatment. This way, they can continue with work, school, and family obligations while continuing with sobriety.

If someone you know is showing signs of alcohol dependence, and you’d like to learn more about how we can help, contact us today.


**Originally posted on April 16, 2018. Updated on June 24, 2019.