Alcohol dependence is an addiction. It is colloquially referred to as alcoholism or alcohol addiction. It is associated with physical, psychological and social consequential damage. Those affected and people who suspect alcohol dependence can seek support from a suitable place.
How do you recognize alcohol addiction?
Various characteristics indicate alcohol dependence. In particular, those affected experience a strong craving for alcohol and find it difficult to control their alcohol consumption. Also, the traits include drinking more and more alcohol to get the effect that was previously seen at a lower dose. This is known as tolerance development. Withdrawal symptoms also indicate alcohol dependence.
How does alcohol addiction work?
The course of an untreated alcohol addiction can be divided into four phases. The time it takes and to what extent those affected go through these phases varies from person to person. Not everyone goes through all phases.
How can you recognize alcohol addiction?
Alcohol dependence is often only recognized when negative physical, psychological and social consequences are already evident. In the beginning there are hardly any physical symptoms. The extent of the consequences usually increases with the duration of alcohol consumption. However, the exact consequences can differ from person to person.
Evidence of increased alcohol consumption is provided, for example, by a deteriorated general physical and mental condition. Certain physical changes, for example on the skin, can also indicate increased alcohol consumption.
When the alcohol wears off, you may experience withdrawal symptoms, such as restlessness, tremors, a rapid heartbeat, fever, nausea, or diarrhea. Impaired consciousness can also occur.
What happens at the doctor’s or in the addiction counseling center?
Rarely is alcohol dependence the real reason for a doctor’s visit, but rather complaints that result from alcohol dependence.
Evidence of increased alcohol consumption can then be found, for example, by asking about the medical history, a physical examination and a blood test. Which examinations are carried out depends, among other things, on the actual reason for the visit to the doctor and on the existing secondary diseases.
Not only doctors, but also counseling centers are important contact points if those affected want to do something about their alcohol addiction – even if only because they have a suspicion. The feeling that something is wrong with the alcohol consumption is enough to start a conversation. Counselors and doctors first ask about the extent of alcohol consumption and personal circumstances. In order for a possible alcohol addiction to be recognized and correctly assessed, it is important that those affected are open to an honest conversation. In order to be able to diagnose alcohol dependence, psychological questionnaires are used, among other things. The doctor may take blood, because certain blood values can also indicate alcohol dependence.
The personal motivation and treatment goals of those affected are also explored. This is followed by a joint decision to take further steps. Even if you are not dependent on alcohol, there are ways to help and support you to limit or stop drinking altogether.