Those with a substance use disorder such as alcohol addiction tend to justify their behaviour, which can include making excuses for their behaviour, or worse – blaming other people for their drinking habits.
Alcohol addiction rarely just affects the person with the addiction – alcoholism affects loved ones too.
Loved ones may experience a range of emotions – they feel frustrated or guilty and feel like they are to blame. These feelings can be worsened when the person with the addiction actively blames them.
Read on to learn more about alcohol use disorder, including alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse. We’ll be exploring the signs and symptoms of alcoholism, and whether blaming others is a symptom of being an alcoholic.
The term ‘alcoholic’ is an informal term to describe somebody with substance abuse problems in relation to alcohol.
Medical professionals avoid the term ‘alcoholic’ as it is considered offensive and problematic. Instead, somebody with alcohol use problems is said to have a form of alcohol use disorder.
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a medically-recognised condition that is characterised by a lack of control over alcohol consumption.
AUD is a chronic and relapsing brain disorder that is diagnosed by medical professionals as mild, moderate, or severe. The disorder includes alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence – with alcohol dependence being the more severe form of AUD.
Alcohol dependence refers to when somebody is physically dependent on alcohol – also known as alcohol addiction.
This means that when you stop drinking alcohol, you experience unpleasant and uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal, and you crave alcohol. If you are dependent on alcohol, your body feels like it can’t function without it.
People with alcohol use disorder typically continue to drink despite the negative effects that occur. Alcoholism can affect all areas of a person’s life – including relationships, career, finances, as well as mental health and physical health.
You may be surprised to learn how many people are affected by alcohol use disorders. Over two billion people around the world drink alcohol – however, around 76 million people around the world have a form of alcohol use disorder.
Although considered less severe than alcohol dependence, alcohol abuse can lead to many short-term and long-term health issues.
Binge drinking is a form of alcohol abuse. People who binge drink aren’t always ‘alcoholics’ – but the majority of people with alcohol dependence will abuse alcohol and binge drink.
People who binge drink may only drink once a week, but will consume an excessive amount of alcohol during this time, to the extent that it causes physical damage. This is why the NHS guidelines state we should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week, across three or more days.
This is around the same number of units found in six medium glasses of wine or six pints of 4% beer, cider, or lager.
Sticking within the drinking guidelines can lower the chance of you developing alcohol use disorder, and can hugely reduce the risk of alcohol-related physical health problems.
We provide personalised support and resources for addiction recovery. Take the first step towards a brighter future today.
Alcohol addiction can present in many ways, and it isn’t always obvious. Read on for some of the main signs of alcohol use disorder – but know that these signs alone are not a diagnosis, and you should seek professional medical advice if you think you have an alcohol problem.
The key sign that somebody has an alcohol problem is the lack of control over alcohol consumption. A person with alcohol addiction or alcohol abuse problems may be unable to control:
If you or a loved one are drinking too much or too often, and are struggling to control their alcohol use, this is a sign of alcohol use disorder.
For example, if you struggle to stop drinking once you start, then you likely have a problem. This applies whether it’s on the same evening or the next morning.
The lack of control over drinking alcohol is the most prominent indicator that you have an alcohol problem. You may feel unable to control your drinking or stop drinking despite the negative consequences.
People with AUD may be given ultimatums, experience financial difficulties, or experience physical health problems yet continue to drink. Even if you have the desire to stop drinking, you may find it difficult to stop and end up relapsing as you are physically addicted to alcohol.
Alcoholism is a relapsing disease, and it can be difficult to stop without the right treatment. See ‘Help For Alcoholism’ to learn more.
Alcohol can take its toll on your mental health – especially if you have an existing mental health disorder. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol regularly can impact the chemicals in your brain that promote well-being – for example, dopamine and serotonin.
Although you may feel happy after a drink, it can have adverse effects on your mental health in the long term. As well as contributing to depression and anxiety, it can also make it more difficult for you to deal with stress.
Some people will use alcohol as a form of self-medication, whether it be to deal with physical health problems such as chronic pain – or mental health conditions and behavioural health conditions.
However, using alcohol to cope with these unpleasant feelings can worsen your mental health and general well-being.
Excessive alcohol use and alcoholism can affect your mental health in many ways. It can lead to memory problems, trouble thinking and learning new things, trouble concentrating, as well as changes in your personality. Alcohol use can also lead to anxiety and depression.
If you are noticing changes in your mental health and are struggling to control your alcohol consumption, this is a sign that you may have a form of AUD.
Alcohol can affect your physical health in both the short and the long term – and alcohol-related illnesses are a key sign that you have an alcohol problem.
In the short term, excessive alcohol abuse can lead to alcohol poisoning. Alcohol affects how your central nervous system functions, which can lead to alcohol poisoning.
This occurs when your blood alcohol levels are too high, affecting the areas of your brain that control life-supporting functions (e.g breathing, temperature, and heart rate).
Alcohol poisoning should be considered a medical emergency and can be fatal. Some symptoms of alcohol poisoning include vomiting, confusion, slower breathing, loss of consciousness, and seizures.
Another short-term effect that alcohol can have on your physical health is a hangover. Alcohol can leave you feeling dehydrated, which can lead to a hangover – which typically includes nausea and headaches.
If you notice that you’re feeling hungover more often than not, then you should consider seeking treatment for your alcohol problem.
As alcoholism progresses, it can lead to a wider range of health problems – including cancer. In the National Toxicology Program’s Report on Carcinogens, the consumption of alcohol is classed as a known human carcinogen – and there is strong scientific evidence that alcohol can cause several types of cancer.
Over time, alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction can affect your organs – damaging your brain, liver, pancreas, heart, and central nervous system/ CNS.
Drinking heavily over time can increase your blood pressure and cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Alcohol can also weaken your immune system, which can make you more vulnerable to infections. It can also weaken your bones, meaning a slip, trip or fall can lead to fractures and broken bones.
One of the main indicators that you are dependent on alcohol is that you experience alcohol withdrawal when you stop drinking, whether it be physical withdrawal symptoms or psychological withdrawal symptoms.
The reason that you experience alcohol withdrawal when you stop drinking is because of the effects that alcohol has on your brain and body.
Alcohol increases the effects of GABA – a neurotransmitter – when you drink, which can leave you feeling relaxed. It also decreases glutamate, lowering the levels of excitability.
However, excessive alcohol consumption, or regular drinking, can lead to your body getting used to these changes.
This means that your body will begin producing more glutamate and less GABA to make up for the changes. When you stop drinking, your body continues to produce more glutamate and less GABA – which can leave you feeling restless, anxious, and hyperactive.
If you feel unwell after stopping drinking, this is a sign that you may have alcohol dependence. Some common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can include:
Alcohol withdrawal can also affect you psychologically – some mental withdrawal symptoms can include trouble sleeping, hallucinations, anxiety, and other mental health issues such as mood swings and depression.
It’s not uncommon for people to blame others for their problems – especially when it comes to alcohol addiction. It can be hard to come to terms with the fact that you’re dependent on alcohol – and it may be easier to blame your friends, family members, or your spouse.
But is blaming others a symptom of alcoholism? Well, although blaming others is not necessarily a symptom of alcohol addiction, it is something that people with AUD often do. Read on to learn some of the potential reasons that alcoholics blame others for their alcoholism.
One of the main reasons that people blame other people, whether it be friends or family members, for their alcohol addiction or drug addiction is that they’re simply making excuses and don’t want to face up to the reality of the situation.
Many people begin abusing drugs or alcohol as a result of psychological trauma, physical pain, or mental health issues.
Getting intoxicated in response to negative feelings is a form of self-medication – it may provide temporary relief, but can have some serious consequences.
Some people with addiction think that drinking is a reasonable response to negative feelings or trauma – however, it isn’t – and excessive drinking can worsen these negative feelings over time.
Blaming others for your addiction is not rational. During alcohol rehab, you may be offered therapy – which can help you to understand more about your addiction and the root causes.
Although you may begin drinking due to being treated poorly, drinking doesn’t solve the problem – which means that blaming others is not a rational reason for alcoholism.
Another reason that alcoholics blame others for their addiction is that they are in denial. It can be hard, and sometimes even scary to face up to the harsh reality of your alcohol addiction – which is why some people find ways to avoid facing up to it and deny responsibility, blaming others instead.
This is a way of defending your ego – but it does more harm than good. The longer you’re in denial about your addiction, the longer you’re going without help and living life as an alcoholic.
Although you may understand that your drinking is harmful, your physical addiction means that you still want to drink alcohol – so you continue abusing alcohol.
This is a form of cognitive dissonance – escaping having to justify or even come to terms with your alcohol addiction.
Friends, family, and loved ones of an alcoholic may be able to see the signs clearly – but the person with the addiction may be in denial. Blaming others for your addiction provides a justification – although it’s not a legitimate justification.
Blaming others for your problems can become a habit – after all, it’s easier to blame other people than to face the problem and come to terms with your addiction.
Instead of accepting that you have an addiction, you may take the easier option and twist logic to put others at blame instead of yourself.
You may not even realise you’re doing it – it’s simply the way that you think. However, speaking to a therapist or mental health professional during rehab can help you understand your thinking patterns and the root causes of your addiction, allowing you to begin your recovery journey.
If you wish to seek treatment for your addiction or a loved one’s addiction, we can help. At Help4Addiction, we can get you in contact with the best treatment centre for you – considering your needs, location, and requirements.
We’ll discuss your treatment options and find the right plan for your addiction. As well as alcohol rehab, we can find the right drug rehab for you if you have a drug addiction, whether it be to prescription drugs or illicit drugs.
Addiction treatment programs typically consist of three stages – detoxification, therapy, and secondary treatment.
Detox aims at dealing with physical addiction, whereas therapy focuses on the behavioural, social, and psychological aspects of addiction.
Secondary treatment aims at relapse prevention – you may attend support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, receive counselling, or attend group therapy sessions.
Ongoing support is important when it comes to alcohol addiction recovery. Contact us today to get the ball rolling, discuss your treatment options, and start your journey to recovery.
Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV. He is the founder and CEO of a drug and alcohol rehab center called Help4addiction, which was founded in 2015. He has been clean himself since 2009 and has worked in the Addiction and Rehab Industry for over a decade. Nick is dedicated to helping others recover and get treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. In 2013, he released a book ‘The Thin White’ line that is available on Amazon.
Receive a callback, we’re ready to help you get on the road to recovery.
Don’t hesitate to reach out – we’re here to provide the support you deserve, anytime, day or night.