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The signs and symptoms of Alcohol Addiction

07 Oct 2015

Alcohol Addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests more than the optimal quantity of alcohol regularly. This can be pleasurable but the continued use of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life responsibilities, such as work or relationships, or health.

Prevalence rates of alcohol consumption in India ranges up to 74% of males (Singh G., 1989). Alcohol addiction is the most common addiction problem in India.

It starts with simple drinking and eventually grows into requirement of more quantities of alcohol for the same desired effect and physiological and psychological dependence on it.

Signs and Symptoms

  • The sole symptom of alcohol addiction is the inability to limit use of alcohol beyond normal intake leading to clinically significant impairment in different areas of life.
  • There is a craving or compulsion to drink alcohol. The craving can continue throughout the day but generally intensifies around the usual alcohol consumption time for the concerned person.
  • Recurrent consumption of alcohol escalates to achieve the desired effect, indicating tolerance. This means the amount of alcohol required to bring a same desired effect increases with time as the person frequently takes alcohol.
  • Another strong indicator of alcohol addiction is when attempted to quit alcohol consumption, it produces a series of symptoms known as withdrawal symptoms.

Minor alcohol withdrawal symptoms often appear six to 12 hours after alcohol cessation, sometimes while patients still have a measurable blood alcohol level. These symptoms include:

o    Shaky hands

o    Sweating

o    Mild anxiety

o    Nausea and/or vomiting

o    Headache

o    Insomnia

o    Between 12 and 24 hours after alcohol cessation, some patients may experience visual, auditory, or tactile hallucinations which usually end within 48 hours. Although this condition is called alcoholic hallucinosis, it's not the same as the hallucinations associated with DTs. Most patients are aware that the unusual sensations aren't real.

Recurrent consumption of alcohol impairs work, social, and family responsibilities, creates psychological impairments and interpersonal problems, along with having negative effects on health, mood, and self-respect

Prolonged use of alcohol can lead to physiological conditions like fatty liver, liver cirrhosis, and  can cause impairment in other organs like kidney, pancreas too. Over consumption of alcohol is strongly linked with psychological conditions like chronic depression as well!

Management for Alcohol Addiction:

·         Detox: The alcohol is completely eliminated from bloodstream and takes about 30 days.

·         Pharmacotherapy: To reduce the symptoms of withdrawal and other side effects, medicines are suggested to make the de addiction process less bumpy. There are pharmaceuticals available which refuse the withdrawal symptoms or lessen the cravings. Medicines that can help you include methadone (such as Dolophine) or Naltrexone (such as ReVia).

·         Psychotherapy (individual therapy like Motivational Enhancement Therapy and aversion therapy and group therapy like AA anonymous)

o    Individual therapy: The individual undergoes intervention, on one –on one basis.

o    In group therapy, you talk about your recovery with other people who are trying to quit.

  • In cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), you learn to change the thoughts and actions that make you more likely to use drugs.
  • With motivational interviewing (MI), you resolve mixed feelings you have about quitting and getting treatment.
  • Motivational enhancement therapy (MET) uses motivational interviewing to help you find motivation to quit and get you started toward recovery.
  • Couples or family counseling can help you to stop using drugs, stay drug-free, and improve your relationships with your partner and family.
  • Aversion therapy: The alcohol usage is restricted by introducing emetic drug (induces vomiting) or electric shock every time the person drinks. This reduces the frequency of alcohol intake with time.

o    Group therapy: Treatment usually includes going to a support group, such as going to Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings.

o    Follow the post intervention techniques such as controlling cravings and avoiding triggers on a regular basis and avoid activities or persons who might divert towards the alcoholic tendencies.

·Develop a healthy lifestyle: Exercising, eating and sleeping healthily, do community work, adopt a pet or work on a hobby of your interest and make your life meaningful.

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Tags: #Alcohol #Addiction #Abuse