Alcoholism is a progressive illness that some unfortunate individuals are predisposed to from birth. Due to the nature of addiction, it can be difficult to self-diagnose, but it is possible — and rest assured that it can be treated. By attending a rehabilitation program overseen by caring, empathetic experts and building a strong support network, anyone can overcome this all-consuming disease.
The DSM-5 Criteria and Signs of Alcoholism
To diagnose alcohol use disorder, doctors use 11 criteria. The presence of two to three indicates a mild disorder, four to five denotes a moderate disorder and over six signifies a severe disorder. We would recommend going over these points of reference with someone close to you. If a loved one is already concerned about the way you’re drinking, it could be helpful for both of you to discuss the following criteria together:
- Regularly drinking more than you had intended to or continuing to drink for longer than you said/thought you were going to
- A persistent desire to stop drinking that goes unfulfilled, or you keep trying and failing to cut down or stop
- A disproportionate amount of your time is spent drinking or recovering from the effects of alcohol
- Craving or feeling an intense urge to consume alcoholic beverages
- Failing to fulfill important obligations at work, school or home
- Continuing to drink excessively in spite of interpersonal or social problems occurring as a result of alcohol
- Giving up recreational activities you used to enjoy or losing your job or friends as a result of drinking
- Using alcohol repeatedly in situations that put you in danger
- Drinking heavily in spite of being aware that it’s damaging your physical and/or mental health
- Needing more and more alcohol to get inebriated
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you haven’t consumed alcohol for some time
Do All Alcoholics Drink Every Day?
When alcoholism goes untreated, you will almost certainly end up drinking daily. However, during the early stages of drinking, it’s common for people to either use alcohol every time they go out or have the ability to take days off from drinking. During this time, it’s essential to pay attention to your intentions. Are you drinking to cover up your emotions, because you find it difficult to relax or because you don’t feel confident without it?
If the answer to any of those questions is yes, you’re using alcohol as a crutch. We regularly see this type of behavior in those who go on to develop an alcohol use disorder. Those who have a healthy relationship with drinking can take or leave a drink in any situation.
Does a Certain Type of Person Become an Alcoholic?
Not at all. While people often feel ashamed if they realize they’re drinking too much and try to cover it up, this is counterproductive. You can seek kind, supportive care from people who understand that what you’re going through isn’t a choice you’ve made.
What Are the Risk Factors?
Alcoholism can run in the family — partly due to genes and partly due to how normalized excessive drinking is in your home from a young age. Environmental factors such as stress or trauma can also trigger the condition. A complex mixture of genetic, social and situational factors come into play with alcoholism, and what causes an individual to turn to alcohol may vary from person to person.