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Determining whether or not someone is an alcoholic is not a matter of a simple formula; someone could have one drink a day and have alcoholism, while someone else could drink six glasses of wine in an evening and not be considered an alcoholic. Alcoholism is a very complex disease, and a diagnosis of alcoholism relies on several symptoms and factors which are considered together, ranging from a genetic predisposition to alcoholism to the drinking habits of the patient. If you are concerned that someone you know may be developing an alcohol dependence, you should be aware that many people with alcohol abuse and dependence issues are in denial, so you should approach this person carefully about the issue.
Alcoholism is a chronic disease which is characterized by the continued use of alcohol despite social, legal, or health complications. An alcoholic tends to develop an obsession with alcohol, losing the ability to control his or her drinking, and many alcoholics also experience distorted thinking and denial.
Some signs that someone may be an alcoholic include consistent heavy drinking, along with drinking at inappropriate times, such as early in the morning. If someone has experienced problems at work or school due to drinking and he or she persists, this can be an indicator of alcoholism. Someone who repeatedly drinks and drives or drinks and engages in other dangerous activities is also displaying signs of alcoholism.
Drinking alone, hiding alcohol in strange places, and trying to conceal alcohol consumption from others are also symptoms of alcoholism, as is an inability to account for how much alcohol has been consumed. An alcoholic can also experience frequent blackouts related to drinking, along with health problems associated with excessive alcohol consumption, and personality changes linked to drinking.
When people start to experience problems with interpersonal relationships as a result of alcohol, combined with feelings of guilt and a desire to cut down on drinking but an inability to do so, this is a strong indicator that they may be experiencing alcohol dependence. Alcoholics may also manifest a fixation on alcohol, insisting on alcohol for all social occasions and demonstrating a lack of interest in events where alcohol will not be present.
Treatment for alcohol addiction can approach the problem from a number of angles. Not all treatments work for everyone, and it can take time for an alcoholic to find a therapist or treatment plan which is effective. Patient support from friends and family members is important, with many friends and family members of alcoholics taking advantage of support programs which show them how to help with recovery.