Alcoholism is a disease that preys on both the mind and the body. Some of the physical symptoms of alcoholism are intertwined with the psychological symptoms of dependency. According to the National Institutes of Health, the disease of alcoholism has the following symptoms:
Numbers 1 and 2 on the list have psychological as well as physical symptoms of alcoholism. The second two are clearly physical. As the disease progresses, the physical symptoms become more pronounced and can include:
Physical symptoms also occur when someone who has been drinking heavily for quite a while (weeks or months) decides to stop drinking suddenly. These symptoms range from the mild (see #3 on the NIH list above) to the severe (DTs, or delirium tremens).
Unfortunately, the more times a heavy drinker tries to quit, the worse the physical symptoms can become each time. Medical experts recommend that drinkers stop drinking under the supervision of a doctor, who can prescribe medicine to help control the shakiness and anxiety that often accompany withdrawal.
One of the most tragic physical symptoms of alcoholism is one that alcoholic mothers pass along to their babies during pregnancy: fetal alcohol syndrome.
Babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome are usually underweight and can have birth defects and mental retardation.