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Alcohol Use Disorder: Know the Alcohol Addiction Symptoms

Discover how Rockland Recovery can help you or a loved one overcome alcohol addiction symptoms and get the help you deserve.

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a medical condition characterized by problematic drinking patterns that lead to significant distress and impairment in various areas of life. It is also commonly referred to as alcoholism or alcohol addiction.

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What are Some Common Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol addiction can affect multiple aspects of a person’s life. Developing a dependence on alcohol can impact an individual’s social, emotional, and mental well-being.

Alcohol use disorder is a serious condition that can have both physical and behavioral symptoms as well.

Some common alcohol addiction symptoms include:

  • Tolerance
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Cravings
  • Drinking more or longer than intended
  • Neglecting other activities
  • Continued use despite negative consequences
  • Drinking alone or in secret
  • Drinking to cope with stress or emotions
  • Prioritizing drinking
  • Loss of control
  • Spending a lot of time drinking or recovering from the effects of alcohol

Behavioral Symptoms of AUD

Some common behavioral alcohol addiction symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty controlling drinking
  • Drinking in secret
  • Developing an increased dependence
  • Continued use despite negative consequences
  • Prioritizing drinking over other activities
  • Neglecting responsibilities

When Do You Know If You May Need Substance Use Help?

Normal alcohol use refers to drinking alcohol in moderation. This means consuming it in a way that does not cause harm to oneself or others.

Moderate alcohol use is generally considered to be up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men, according to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Risk Factors for Developing Alcohol Use Disorder

There are various risk factors that can increase the likelihood of developing alcohol use disorder (AUD). These will be detailed below.


One of the most significant risk factors is genetics. Studies have shown that individuals with a family history of alcoholism are more likely to develop AUD themselves.

This may be due to the presence of certain genes that affect how the body processes alcohol, making some people more susceptible to its addictive properties.

Early Exposure to Alcohol

Another risk factor for AUD is early exposure to alcohol. Adolescents who begin drinking at a young age are at a higher risk of developing AUD than those who wait until they are older to start drinking.

This may be because the brain is still developing during adolescence and early exposure to alcohol can disrupt normal brain development, leading to an increased risk of addiction.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors also play a role in the development of AUD. Individuals who grow up in households where alcohol use is normalized or where heavy drinking is prevalent may be more likely to develop AUD themselves.

Additionally, stressful life events such as job loss, relationship problems, or trauma can increase the risk of developing AUD as individuals may turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism.

Importance of Awareness and Prevention Efforts

It is important to recognize these risk factors and take steps to mitigate their impact on an individual’s life.

Prevention efforts can include education about the risks of early alcohol use, providing resources for stress management and coping skills, and increasing awareness about the importance of seeking help for alcohol-related problems.

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Alcohol Use vs. Alcohol Addiction

The key difference between normal alcohol use and alcohol addiction is that alcohol use disorder involves a loss of control over alcohol use, leading to negative consequences.

It can cause a variety of alcohol addiction symptoms.

Alcohol addiction can take many forms and can range from mild to severe.

What Is Moderate Alcohol Use Entail?

In contrast, normal alcohol use involves drinking in moderation, which means setting limits on the amount and frequency of alcohol consumption, drinking with meals or socializing, and not experiencing negative consequences from alcohol use.

People who drink in moderation can enjoy the social and pleasurable aspects of alcohol while minimizing the risks associated with excessive drinking. This means that there is less of a chance of suffering from alcohol addiction symptoms.

Importance of Seeking Professional Help When Struggling With AUD

It’s important to note that alcohol addiction is a serious condition that can have significant negative impacts on a person’s life.

If you are concerned about your alcohol use or the alcohol use of someone you know, seeking professional help is recommended.

Some key differences between normal alcohol use and alcohol addiction include:

Tolerance and Withdrawal

People with alcohol addiction symptoms often need to drink more to achieve the same desired effect and may experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop or reduce their alcohol consumption.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Normal alcohol use does not typically involve tolerance or withdrawal symptoms, such as:

  • Loss of Control: People with alcohol use disorder may be unable to limit their alcohol consumption, even when they want to. Normal alcohol use involves setting limits on the amount and frequency of alcohol consumption.
  • Negative Consequences: People with alcohol addiction symptoms may also experience negative consequences, such as legal problems, relationship issues, and health problems, as a result of their alcohol use.
  • Prioritizing Drinking: People with alcohol addiction may prioritize drinking over other responsibilities, such as work, school, or family obligations. Normal alcohol use does not typically involve neglecting important responsibilities.

What Are the Short-Term Consequences of Alcohol Addiction?

Alcohol addiction can have a range of short-term consequences. These are known as alcohol addiction symptoms.

Here are some common short-term consequences of alcohol addiction:

  • Physical health problems
  • Mental health problems
  • Impaired judgment
  • Accidents and injuries
  • Blackouts and memory loss
  • Aggression and violence
  • Relationship problems
  • Legal problems

It’s important to note that short-term alcohol addiction symptoms vary depending on the individual, the amount of alcohol consumed, and other factors.

It’s also important to remember that the long-term consequences of alcohol addiction can be even more severe and potentially life-threatening.

What Are the Long-Term Consequences of Alcohol Addiction?

Alcohol addiction can also have a range of long-term consequences for individuals. These are often more severe than other alcohol addiction symptoms.

Here are some common long-term consequences of alcohol addiction:

  • Cancer
  • Kidney or liver failure
  • Co-occurring mental health disorders
  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Increased risk of death
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Cirrhosis

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How Do Alcohol Addiction Symptoms Impact Mental Health?

Alcohol addiction symptoms can have a significant impact on mental health. It’s important to note that alcohol addiction can affect each individual differently and the severity of its impact on mental health can vary.

Seeking professional help is recommended for anyone struggling with alcohol addiction and its impact on their mental health.

Here are some ways that alcohol addiction symptoms can affect mental health:

Depression and Anxiety

Alcohol addiction can increase the risk of developing depression and anxiety disorders. Over time, alcohol can change the brain’s chemistry and interfere with the balance of neurotransmitters that regulate mood.

Cognitive Impairment

Long-term alcohol addiction can cause cognitive impairment, including memory loss, difficulty with problem-solving and decision-making, and decreased attention span.


Heavy alcohol use can cause hallucinations, delusions, and other symptoms of psychosis. This is one of the most severe forms of alcohol addiction symptoms.

Increased Risk of Suicide

Alcohol addiction can increase the risk of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts.

Social Isolation

Alcohol addiction can lead to social isolation, which can exacerbate feelings of depression and anxiety.

Increased Risk of Other Mental Health Conditions

Alcohol addiction can increase the risk of developing other mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Worsening of Pre-Existing Mental Health Conditions

Alcohol addiction can worsen symptoms of pre-existing mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety.

Impaired Judgment

Alcohol can impair judgment and decision-making abilities, leading to poor choices and risky behavior, which can exacerbate mental health problems.

What Are Common Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders?

Individuals with alcohol addiction are at an increased risk of experiencing co-occurring mental health disorders. Here are some common co-occurring mental health disorders that may occur alongside alcohol addiction symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Personality disorders, such as borderline personality disorder
  • Eating disorders, such as bulimia and binge eating disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)

How Do Alcohol Addiction Symptoms Impact Relationships?

Substance use disorders and alcohol addiction symptoms can make it difficult to connect to those around you. Alcohol addiction can have a significant impact on relationships, both personal and professional.

Here are some ways that alcohol addiction can affect relationships:

  • Communication issues
  • Increased conflict
  • Neglect of responsibilities
  • Financial strain
  • Codependency
  • Trust issues
  • Isolation
  • Physical and emotional abuse

It’s important to note that each relationship is unique. The impact of alcohol addiction on relationships can vary.

What Are Some Strategies for Rebuilding and Repairing Damaged Relationships?

Rebuilding and repairing damaged relationships can be a challenging and complex process.

However, there are several strategies that can help:

  • Seek professional help
  • Take responsibility
  • Set boundaries
  • Be consistent
  • Practice empathy
  • Focus on the present
  • Be patient

Remember, repairing damaged relationships is a process that takes time and effort.

With the right strategies and support, it’s possible to rebuild trust and create healthier relationships after healing from alcohol addiction symptoms.

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How Can Someone Seek Help For Alcohol Addiction Symptoms?

If someone is experiencing alcohol addiction symptoms and wants to seek help, there are several options available. These will be detailed below.

Talk to a Healthcare Professional

The first step is to talk to a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or therapist, who can assess the severity of a person’s alcohol addiction symptoms and recommend treatment options.

They may refer the person to a specialist in addiction medicine or a treatment center.

Consider Support Groups

Support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or SMART Recovery, can be an important part of the recovery process. These groups provide a safe and supportive environment where people can share their experiences and receive guidance from others who have gone through similar struggles.

Explore Treatment Options

Treatment options for alcohol addiction include detoxification, medication-assisted treatment, and behavioral therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing (MI). It’s important to explore all options and find the best fit for the individual.

Seek Family and Social Support

Family and friends can be an important source of support for someone struggling with alcohol addiction symptoms. They can provide emotional support, encouragement, and help the person maintain their sobriety.

Create a Plan for Recovery

A plan for recovery should include goals, strategies, and resources for maintaining sobriety. This plan may involve lifestyle changes, such as avoiding triggers or finding new hobbies, as well as ongoing therapy and support.

Alcohol Addiction Symptoms

Seek Treatment for Alcohol Addiction Symptoms With Rockland Recovery

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction symptoms, don’t wait to get help.

Rockland Recovery is here to support you every step of the way throughout your recovery, including helping you heal from alcohol addiction symptoms.

Comprehensive Treatment Programs for Sustainable Recovery

Our comprehensive treatment programs are designed to meet your individual needs and provide the tools and resources you need to achieve long-term sobriety. We believe that recovery is possible for everyone, and we are committed to helping you achieve your goals.

Our passionate and caring staff will be here for you or your loved one to help you heal from any symptoms you may be experiencing.

Contact Rockland Recovery Treatment Centers

At Rockland Recovery, we’re committed to providing compassionate and effective addiction treatment services. We understand that reaching out for help is a significant step, and our team is here to guide you through every stage of your journey toward recovery.


Rockland Recovery is a leader in addiction treatment and mental health care. Our multidisciplinary team of top medical experts is committed to addressing the unique needs of each patient. Reach out to us anytime – we are available 24/7.

For additional information or to find addiction treatment and mental health services in your area, contact us directly or visit SAMSHA’s treatment locator. For immediate assistance, call or text 988 to reach the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline or 855.732.4842 to speak to a Care Coordinator at Rockland Recovery.

Medical Reviewer Kate Perfetti, LADC II

Medically Reviewed by Kate Perfetti, LADC II

Kate is a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor who has worked in the field of substance abuse for the last nine years. At Rockland Recovery, Kate works to provide resources to the local community and engage and progress Rockland Recovery’s alumni program.

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