Contributor: Yvette McBride Thomas
An addiction is defined as a maladaptive behavior that one engages in repeatedly, without the ability to quit, despite enduring serious and significant consequences as a result of that behavior.
Alcoholism is a biological disorder that impacts a person’s physiology as well as their psyche. Addiction is a highly genetic disorder such that over 90 percent of addicts have a relative or relatives who are addicts within 1 to 2 generations. Thus, those who come from families with a high incidence of addiction need to be careful, and monitor their own potential to abuse substances. Of course, if one who is genetically predisposed to be an alcoholic chooses to simply stay away from alcohol, this genetic disorder will never have an opportunity to be expressed. Unfortunately, many do not know that they are predisposed toward alcoholism until they are already embroiled in an unproductive cycle of self medicating their negative mood states with drugs or alcohol.
Denial goes hand in hand with addiction, so most addicts, especially in the early stages of using, will deny that drugs or alcohol are impacting their life in a negative manner. They may continue to deny this reality, even as they begin to lose friendships, have trouble with the law, or perform poorly at work or school. Such is the power of denial. Below are 10 symptoms indicating a drinking problem. They should be used as a guideline to help an alcoholic or problem drinker admit that they do not have control over their alcohol use:
- Drinking alone
- Making excuses to drink
- Daily or frequent drinking needed to function
- Inability to reduce or stop alcohol intake
- Violent episodes associated with drinking
- Drinking secretly
- Becoming angry when confronted about drinking
- Poor eating habits
- Failure to care for physical appearance
- Trembling in the morning
These symptoms are all indicative of problem drinking. Not all problem drinkers are addicts however. Some people may not be addicted to alcohol, but may drink to excess primarily as a coping tool to deal with negative feelings. These types of drinkers, who DO NOT have ANY family history of addiction, who have NOT suffered extreme consequences as a result of their drinking, and who WANT to stop drinking, may be excellent candidates for individual therapy. Those who DO have a family history of addiction, who CANNOT stop drinking on their own and who have suffered severe consequences such as social difficulties, legal trouble and work or school problems may be excellent candidates for Alcoholics Anonymous and group therapy in order to promote sobriety. Alcoholism and problem drinking are serious physical and mental health issues and need to be treated as such. If YOU believe that you may be an alcoholic or a problem drinker please consult your physician in addition to contacting a mental health professional who specializes in substance abuse in order to coordinate your treatment.
Dr. Maloff specializes in the outpatient treatment of substance abuse and addiction disorders. jared on October 9th, 2007