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What Are the Symptoms of an Alcohol Problem?


Updated May 21, 2014

Teenage girl (16-17) sitting in pub with head in hand
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Question: What Are the Symptoms of an Alcohol Problem?
Answer: Certain behaviors are known to be possible early signs of an alcohol problem. These include any established pattern of drinking, such as heavy regular alcohol consumption and/or frequent intoxication, which poses a high risk of future damage to physical or mental health and which places the drinker at risk of accidents, arrests, poor job performance or other social problems.

Alcohol dependence, sometimes referred to as alcoholism , is the most severe type of alcohol problem and is characterized by three of seven symptoms experienced during a one year time period. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, the symptoms of alcohol dependence include:

Symptoms of Alcohol Dependence

  • Neglect of other Activities: Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of alcohol use;
  • Excessive Use: Alcohol is consumed in larger amounts over a longer period than intended;
  • Impaired control: Ongoing, unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control alcohol consumption;
  • Persistence of Use: Alcohol consumption is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely caused or exacerbated by alcohol;
  • Large Amounts of Time Spent in Alcohol Related Activities: A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain, use or recover from the effects of alcohol;
  • Withdrawal: Withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety when alcohol use is stopped after a period of heavy drinking;
  • Tolerance: The need for increasing amounts of alcohol in order to feel its effects.

Do You Have an Alcohol Problem?

Answering these 20 questions will give you an idea if your drinking patterns are safe, risky or harmful. Be honest with yourself, only you will see the results of your test and you can only benefit if your answers are accurate. Are your withdrawals mild, moderate or severe? Take the Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Quiz.

Return to Alcohol Problem Frequently Asked Questions.

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