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Warning Signs of Alcohol Abuse

Not everyone who drinks alcohol will do so in abusive manners. It is an acceptable activity in our culture to, occasionally, drink alcohol to celebrate, to relax, to socialize, or in some instances, as a therapeutic intervention. There are many forms of alcohol abuse and knowing the warning signs may help to prevent some of the life altering consequences that the abuse can cause.

Alcohol Abuse

abusing alcohol

Drinking in inappropriate times and despite negative consequences are signs of an alcohol problem.

Alcohol abuse occurs when a person continues to use alcohol, although they have developed social, legal, or health problems from doing so, or when the consequences of their drinking is harmful to themselves or others. Some people may set out to get intoxicated, but, many others drink more than they expected to because they lose their sense of reasonable judgment and inhibitions.

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that slows down responses in the brain and affects cognition, memory, judgment, motor skills, inhibitions, behaviors, and emotions. It often leads to dangerous behaviors, actions, or predicaments when least expected. When alcohol is frequently or excessively abused, it can cause dependency, otherwise known as alcoholism.


Because alcoholism is a progressive disease, the person may abuse alcohol for years without developing a tolerance and dependency to it. Until then, they may not recognize that any problems exist. According to the National Institutes of Health,” we do not know how alcohol creates its addictive actions.” Alcoholism causes the person to have cravings for alcohol, impaired control over their drinking, and withdrawals when they stop. People who are dependent on alcohol will continue to deny that they have a problem even in the midst of obvious and negative consequences.

Warning Signs of Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse increases the risk of physical and mental health impairments, accidents, injuries, auto crashes, domestic violence, child neglect, and other anti-social behaviors. Warning signs of alcohol abuse may include:

  • Underage drinking.
  • Drinking frequently or in excess.
  • Failing to fulfill work, school, social, economic, or family obligations.
  • Problems in attending work, school, or social engagements.
  • Relationship problems or distress to others.
  • Mental health issues such as anger, aggression, anxiety, depression, mood swings, irritability, or suicide ideations.
  • Physical health issues of dehydration, malnutrition, excessive sweating, bloodshot eyes or other serious health problems including liver problems, kidney problems, immunity, cardiovascular, or respiratory problems.
  • Neglecting children and other family members.
  • Loss of interest in activities not involving alcohol use.
  • Impaired memory, confusion, and difficulties communicating or focusing.
  • Engaging in risky behaviors that can cause harm to self or others.
  • Binge drinking.
  • Driving or swimming under the influence of alcohol.
  • Taking other drugs while drinking.
  • Hangovers
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Drinking alcohol at unacceptable times or in unacceptable places.

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