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Alcoholism Signs & Symptoms: Diagnosis & Treatment

Last Updated: November 3, 2023

Editorial Policy | Research Policy

Alcohol addiction can damage your health and life. It’s important to recognize the signs of alcoholism so you can reach out for help.

What Is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism or alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a chronic disease where people are unable to stop or control their alcohol use despite negative effects on their health, work or relationships. It’s a widespread issue that impacts not only the individual but also their family, friends and society at large.

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Common Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse

If someone is misusing alcohol, they will likely show some key indicators. These common behavioral and physical signs associated with alcohol abuse are important to watch out for. 

Behavioral and Social Signs of Alcoholism

Behavioral and social signs of alcoholism can often be the first indicators of a problem. These may include:

  • Secretive behavior, such as hiding alcohol or drinking alone
  • Withdrawal from responsibilities at home, work or school
  • A shift in social circles
  • Frequent legal troubles
  • An inability to stop or reduce alcohol consumption despite the desire to do so

Physical Signs of Alcoholism

Physical signs of alcoholism are often more noticeable as the disease progresses. These can include:

  • Lethargy
  • Excessive sweating
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Unexplained injuries
  • A noticeable decline in personal grooming habits
  • Physical symptoms of withdrawal when alcohol use is stopped or reduced

Diagnosing Alcohol Use Disorder

Screening for alcohol use disorder often involves the use of questionnaires such as the CAGE questionnaire and the DSM-V screening questions. These tools help identify patterns of alcohol use and the impact it has on the individual’s life. It’s important to remember that only a healthcare professional can diagnose AUD.

Impact of Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction can lead to numerous health problems, including:

  • Alcoholic pancreatitis
  • Liver disease
  • Heart problems and stroke
  • An increased risk of certain cancers
  • High blood pressure
  • Difficulties with learning and memory 

It can also lead to mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Beyond health issues, alcohol misuse can have severe personal and professional consequences, including damaged relationships, poor work or school performance, and legal problems.

Treatment Options for Alcoholism

There are various treatment options available for alcohol use disorder. These include:

  • Detoxification programs
  • Rehabilitation programs
  • Medications
  • Behavioral therapies
  • Support groups

The specific treatment plan will depend on the individual’s needs and may involve a combination of these options. Alcohol use disorder is most commonly treated with a combination of behavioral interventions, such as counseling, and medications that help a person manage cravings. These services may be provided in either inpatient or outpatient rehab programs. 

Find Help for Alcohol Use Disorder in Missouri

The first step toward recovery is to recognize the signs of alcohol addiction. If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol use, know that help is available. The Recovery Village Kansas City offers comprehensive treatment programs tailored to each person’s specific needs. Don’t hesitate to reach out and start the journey toward recovery today.


National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder.” 2020. Accessed August 11, 2023.

O’Brien, Charles P. “The CAGE Questionnaire for Detection of Alcoholism.” JAMA Classics, November 5, 2008. Accessed August 11, 2023.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “Alcohol Use Disorder: A Comparison Between DSM–IV and DSM–5.” 2021. Accessed August 11, 2023.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Excessive Alcohol Use.” July 11, 2022. Accessed August 11, 2023.