What Is Considered an Alcoholic? Signs and Symptoms

Understanding what is considered an alcoholic involves recognizing the signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction. Drinking alcohol regularly, particularly in excessive amounts, can lead to the development of alcohol use disorder. This article will discuss what constitutes alcoholism, including the signs and symptoms and how to drink moderately.

Transcend Recovery Community specializes in providing tailored treatment programs for substance and alcohol use disorder by offering individual intensive programs and sober living communities. Our holistic approach ensures that you receive comprehensive support needed to achieve lasting recovery. Reach out to Transcend Recovery Community and take the path toward long term recovery.

Defining Alcoholism: What Is An Alcoholic?

An alcoholic is a person who suffers from alcohol use disorder (AUD), which is a chronic disease marked by an inability to control or stop consuming alcohol despite the negative impacts on their health and relationships. This condition involves both physical dependence and psychological cravings for alcoholic drinks.

Alcoholism spans various stages of alcohol use, as it ranges from mild to severe, where the person prioritizes alcohol consumption over other aspects of life. The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies excessive alcohol use as a significant risk factor for numerous health complications, affecting a person's mental health and overall well-being.

It is essential to differentiate between moderate drinking and alcoholism. Alcohol addiction involves a pattern of heavy drinking, an increased tolerance to alcohol, and withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking alcohol​​.

When Does Drinking Alcohol Become Alcoholism?

a man who is an alcoholic is seen here drinking in a glass with whiskey

Drinking alcohol becomes alcoholism when it progresses from moderate drinking to compulsive alcohol consumption, regardless of the resulting health complications. The transition often involves an increase in the amount of alcohol consumed and a loss of control over drinking habits.

According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), men who consume 14 drinks of alcohol per week are at risk of developing alcohol use disorder. On the other hand, women are highly likely to develop alcohol problems if they consume 7 drinks per week.

Can Binge-Drinking Lead to Alcoholism?

Binge drinking is a form of excessive drinking that involves consuming a large amount of alcohol in a short period, which often leads to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. For men, this means drinking five or more alcoholic drinks within about two hours, and for women, it means drinking four or more drinks in the same timeframe​. Both binge drinking and chronic heavy drinking  can lead to alcoholism and significant health risks.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction is characterized by a range of signs and symptoms, including physical, behavioral, and psychological changes. Among the key indicators that determine alcohol addiction include:

Increased Alcohol Tolerance

A person with alcohol addiction often develop a tolerance, which results in needing more alcohol to achieve the desired effects over time. This can lead to consuming larger quantities of alcohol more frequently, which is indicates the likelihood of alcohol use disorder.

Experiencing Withdrawal Symptoms Due to Alcohol Misuse

When alcohol consumption is reduced or stopped, withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, sweating, nausea, and anxiety may occur. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be severe and indicate physical dependence on alcohol.

Inability to Stop Drinking Alcohol

People with alcohol addiction may find it challenging to control their drinking habits despite negative consequences, such as strained relationships, work problems, or legal issues. This loss of control is often a telltale sign of alcoholism.

Neglecting Responsibilities

Alcohol addiction can lead to neglecting responsibilities at work, school, or home. This neglect may manifest as frequent absences, poor performance, or neglect of personal hygiene.

Preoccupation with Alcohol

Constantly thinking about drinking, planning when to drink, or finding ways to obtain alcohol can indicate an unhealthy obsession with alcohol. This preoccupation often takes precedence over other interests or activities.

Continued Use Despite Health Conditions

Despite experiencing physical or mental health issues related to alcohol consumption, a person with alcohol addiction may continue to drink excessively. This behavior can worsen existing health conditions or lead to new ones.

Relationship Problems

Alcohol addiction can strain relationships with family members, friends, and colleagues. This is often due to behaviors like lying about drinking or prioritizing alcohol over social obligations.

How Much Is Too Much: Tips on How to Drink Alcohol Moderately

Heavy drinking is often caused by the inability to determine how much alcohol a person has consumed. These tips can help you prevent consuming too much alcohol:

  • Know Your Limits — Understand moderate drinking (up to two alcoholic drinks for men daily and one for women) to prevent alcohol misuse and related health risks.
  • Stay Hydrated — Alternate alcoholic drinks with water to pace yourself and reduce the risk of heavy drinking or binge drinking.
  • Set Limits Beforehand — Promote responsible drinking by deciding how much you'll drink beforehand to avoid heavy drinking and alcohol-related health complications.
  • Eat Before You Drink Alcohol — Consuming food before or while drinking slows down the process of alcohol absorption in the body, which minimizes the likelihood of developing a negative emotional state associated with alcohol use.
  • Know When to Stop — Recognize signs like dizziness or loss of coordination to prevent alcohol misuse and maintain physical and mental well-being.

How Can Transcend Help?

Alcohol addiction is a health risk that not only affects the individual but also people around that individual who care for them. Transcend Recovery Community offers sober living communities and outpatient treatment programs for individuals struggling with alcohol addiction to put them on the path towards recovery.

These treatment programs include support sessions with sober companions that aim to ensure alcohol recovery. Contact Transcend Recovery Community today to improve your overall well-being and achieve a life of sobriety.

Transcend Recovery Community

Transcend Recovery Community family of sober living homes provides a safe place for those undergoing mental health and addiction treatment to live with like-minded peers. Our community-based approach to sober living (similarly to a halfway house) facilitates an open and welcoming environment, where members, staff and team can provide support and encouragement on the path to a sober and healthy life. Transcend's Los Angeles sober living homes are located in some of the most iconic areas of the city, filled with luxurious and upscale amenities, providing plenty to do for those in our transitional housing community.

Latest Post

Browse Articles

Does Weed Damage Your Brain?

Can Alcoholic Ketoacidosis kill You?

How Long Do Benzodiazepines (Benzos) Stay in Your System?