Alcoholism Physical Signs

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited:  September 15 ,
| 4 Sources

If you suspect a friend or family member has a drinking problem, alcoholism physical signs are not always easy to detect. In fact, alcoholism signs are usually behavioral and appear once the alcohol problem has worsened.

Alcohol dependence is a progressive disease impacting men and women, every race, and every nationality. It often begins with constant binge drinking, defined by consuming more than four drinks at a time in men and more than three drinks at a time in women.

The problem tends to appear more frequently among men than women and is most common among individuals under the legal drinking age.

Genetics play a large role in determining who will suffer from the disease. It is important to clearly understand when someone you know is in danger, to step in, and help friends and family members you may suspect have a problem.

What are the Alcoholism Physical Signs?

Noticing key physical symptoms of alcoholism is critical in identifying potential abuse problems among loved ones. Several of these alcoholism physical signs reflect those of an intoxicated person but when occurring regularly, it may mean a larger alcohol problem. Look for the following physical signals first:

  • Constant slurred speech.
  • Inability to walk stably.
  • Loss of physical coordination.
  • Frequent black-outs after drinking.
  • Weight change.
  • Increased redness in the face.
  • Reoccurring sickness.
  • Numb sensation in hands and/or feet.

Identifying these recurring signs is the first step in identifying alcohol dependence but many common alcoholism signs are actually behavioral.

Understanding more about alcoholism behavioral signs will help you identify alcohol dependence sooner.


What are the Behavioral Symptoms?

Behavioral alcoholism signs can lead to dangerous actions and even potentially life-threatening situations. If you suspect a loved one has a problem after observing several alcoholism physical signs, it is important to intervene and avoid these risky behavioral actions:

  • Frequent intoxication.
  • Development of high-risk drinking patterns (i.e., intoxication behind the wheel).
  • Personality change while drinking.
  • Neglecting of regular activities and commitments (includes work, school, family, friends).
  • Increased amount of time devoted to alcohol-related activities.
  • Tolerance for alcohol.
  • Experiencing black-outs after drinking without an obvious cause. (i.e., car accident)
  • Stealing money to support their alcohol cravings. (Note: this sign may be present in teenagers who have not yet established credit.

Beyond these behavioral alcoholism signs, the most common warning sign is when your friend or family member continues to drink regardless of the problems he or she knows are occurring as a result of the drinking problem.

This is critical. If the person makes excuses to drink or continues to make decisions which include alcohol, despite known negative effects it has on them, they most likely have an addiction problem with alcohol.

Once you identify these alcoholism warning signs in yourself or someone close to you it is important that professional treatment for alcoholism be sought immediately. Alcoholism is a serious disease that can lead to permanent damage, physical dependence, and even death.

Do not wait until it's too late and you lose someone important in your life to alcohol abuse.

What Can I Do to Help?

After observing these alcoholism physical signs and behavioral alcoholism signs among loved ones, getting help is crucial in order for these folks to reach abstinence. Talk to your friend or family member about the options available.

Alcohol treatment programs provide the tools necessary to help your loved one recognize alcohol as a problem and begin their journey towards sobriety. The right treatment center provides a safe environment that encourages healing while providing the tools necessary to move forward. Enlisting help as soon as possible is an important first step in recovery and can save lives.

Some prefer counseling while others turn to rehabilitation centers available nationwide. Rehab centers have high success rates but will cause serious withdrawal for patients, which may mean additional medications.

There are also several medications available on the market today to help reduce alcoholism problems:

  • Disulfiram is a pill that causes severe nausea, headaches and ill feelings as a result of alcohol consumption, ultimately turning these alcohol-dependent people away from drinking.
  • Another pill -- Naltrexone -- also reduces the urge to drink but does not cause ill feelings.
  • Acamprosate works by eliminating cravings which may include the urge to consume alcohol.
  • A monthly injectable drug called Vivitrol requires a visit to a medical practitioner to obtain and works by blocking neurotransmitters in the brain linked to alcoholism. It is used among patients also seeing a counselor.

Your friends and family who you may suspect are suffering from alcohol dependence are putting themselves at risk but there is help available. Be sure to take note of the key warning signals and take action, get help today to keep these loved ones safe and on the road to recovery.

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 

I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LPC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More

More alcoholism physical signs on our main alcoholism signs page

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