Common signs & symptoms of alcohol intoxication, abuse and addiction


Of all the substance abuse and addictions, alcohol addiction is probably the most prominent as its consumption is legal and it is considered to be a social pastime – at least until it becomes problematic. There are, in percentage terms, comparatively few people in all societies who do not drink alcohol in some form or another at some stage and for most, it is a normal part of everyday living.

When the behaviour of the alcohol drinker becomes problematic however then one has to question whether there is alcohol abuse, and at another point, even an addiction. In clinical terms, it is known as alcohol use disorder. Sadly the side effects of alcohol abuse, like drunken driving, anger, violence and depression often take their toll on others and can lead to divorce, broken families and of course in the case of drunken driving and violence- even death.

As a parent, spouse, family member or friend of someone you suspect of having a problem with alcohol consumption, watch out for these common signs & symptoms of alcohol intoxication, abuse and addiction…  

Intoxication signs 

Some people who drink, even heavily, can do so without exhibiting obvious signs of intoxication. Those who do not drink that much, however, can easily gauge the level of intoxication of the individual through these signs: mood swings, uninhibited behaviour, slurring, impaired judgment, poor attention span and coordination – and in certain cases total memory recall loss the next day. This is a big tell-tale sign of alcohol abuse. The worst-case scenario – extremely elevated blood alcohol levels that can lead to a coma or even death.

Watch for the tell-tale signs of abuse 

These are fairly numerous and as the Mayo clinic describe it, can include “being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect, or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking.”

A common misconception is that ceasing to drink during the week and then drinking excessively on the weekend, also known as ‘binge’ drinking, is better. This can, in fact, be even more damaging and if done regularly is just as much a sign of alcohol use disorder as any other. 

Symptoms of addiction 

Addiction, of course, is a different matter and a question often asked by drinkers is “When do you know you are addicted to alcohol?” These are our top 10 most common signs…

  1. being unable to cut down even when you want to
  2. being unable to stop when you want to
  3. being unable to stop even when you know it is causing physical or relationship problems
  4. Having strong cravings to drink
  5. Spending a lot of time drinking or recovering from drinking (bad hangovers)
  6. Giving up work or social activities and pastimes
  7. being unable to fulfil work, school or family obligations through drinking or hangovers
  8. Increasing alcohol intake through developing a huge tolerance for its consumption
  9. Using alcohol when you know it is unsafe to do so – i.e. when driving or doing certain activities
  10. Unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when not drinking – nausea, sweating or the shakes 

Alcohol addiction can be overcome 

With a combination of tried and tested faith-based rehabilitation programs – and love – we at Transformation Life Centre (TLC) based in Sandton in Johannesburg, assist substance abusers and alcohol addicts to regain their lives, their respect and their relationships.

We focus on the restoration of physical and emotional health and quip the individual for relapse prevention. This approach provides the most valuable opportunity for a fully and permanently transformed life.

Contact us to learn more and take your life into your own hands – a bright new alcohol-free future awaits!

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