Alcohol Addiction Signs and Symptoms

There are many alcohol addiction signs and symptoms that someone may experience once they have become dependent on the substance.

Signs of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

Multiple alcohol addiction signs can show if someone may be struggling with substance abuse. Alcohol use disorder is very serious and can have extreme effects on a person’s life. Some signs that a person is struggling with AUD include that they cannot limit how much alcohol they consume, they want to stop drinking but cannot, and they start failing to fulfill daily obligations.1 

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Binge Drinking

One of the main alcohol addiction signs is binge drinking, which is when a person consumes large quantities of alcohol (over five drinks) within a short time. It can lead to severe impairment and possibly alcohol poisoning.

Alcohol Abuse

A person might also start to abuse alcohol by consuming it regularly or at inappropriate times. Many times, this type of use will lead to a dependence on the substance. Alcohol abuse could lead to a person continuing to drink even after negative consequences have surfaced. 1 

Short Term Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

When a person has become dependent on alcohol, they will begin to develop withdrawal symptoms once the alcohol has been out of their system for some time. Alcohol addiction signs withdrawal can cause extreme health issues and possibly fatal results if not monitored by a healthcare professional. Withdrawal symptoms and severity can vary depending on the individual.


Within six hours after a person stops drinking, they might start to have severe migraines that make it difficult to function. These headaches could subside or continue to get worse as the alcohol continues to leave the person’s system.2


Nausea is another very common symptom of alcohol withdrawal. A person may begin to become dizzy while changing positions, which could even lead to vomiting.2


During withdrawal, a person may have trouble falling asleep, which could be due to several factors including cravings, other side effects, and a change in routine.2


Excessive sweating is very common among people that are going through alcohol withdrawal. Sweating normally becomes worse as the time without a drink goes from a quarter of a day to a full day. This amount of sweating can lead to severe dehydration and possibly malnutrition. 


In some severe cases, a person may begin to develop severe confusion or disorientation. It might be difficult to move, walk, or remember where you are at. If a person is going through alcohol withdrawal and symptoms continue to become more severe, it should be treated as a medical emergency. 

Long-Term Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Several different long-term alcohol withdrawal symptoms take place within the body once someone has been free from alcohol for three days to a week. Many of these are severe and could be fatal. 

Alcohol addiction signs

Delirium Tremens

The worst form of alcohol withdrawal is delirium tremens. This issue is when a person’s dependency on alcohol causes issues with the brain and nervous system, leading to seizures and extreme confusion. It is more common when a person has struggled with excessive alcohol use for a long time or if they have brain damage from another disorder.3  

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure or spikes in blood pressure are also common during alcohol withdrawal. Due to the amount of stress it puts on the body and alcohol’s impact on the cardiovascular system, withdrawal can cause severe spikes of blood pressure leading to necessary hospitalization, cardiac arrest, or death. 

Hormonal Imbalances

Alcohol can impact the different glands that release specific hormones within the body. Long-term effects of alcohol usage can lead to severe damage and dysfunction throughout the hormone system. When a person goes into withdrawal, it can throw blood sugar levels out of whack, causing multiple issues with hormonal imbalances.4  

This issue is also caused by dehydration, which causes different imbalances based on the number of electrolytes inside the body.5  

Kidney Disease

By removing alcohol from a person’s system, kidney failure and disease can occur. The imbalances mentioned previously can lead to kidney failure. The main way that alcohol leaves a person’s system is through urine. By taking away the substance, it can cause a sudden shock to the system causing the kidneys to fail. 

Stomach Ulcers

Alcoholism can lead to gastritis, the inflammation of the stomach’s lining, which can lead to severe stomach ulcers within the body. Due to the stress of withdrawal and other side effects, ulcers can also develop during the withdrawal process.6

Liver Cirrhosis

Liver cirrhosis is caused by excessive use of alcohol over time. It is when the tissue in the liver scars and doesn’t work anymore due to significant amounts of alcohol consumption.

This issue causes a person to not produce proteins that enable the body to get toxins out of the blood, such as alcohol. When a person has struggled with alcoholism for a long time, the risk of liver cirrhosis increases.7

Compromised Immune System

When alcohol enters the blood, it can lower a person’s immune system. The more work that the body must put towards fighting off the negative side effects of long-term alcohol usage and the sudden stoppage of drinking, the more difficult it will be for it to fight off other diseases. 

Due to this compromised immune system and all the other symptoms, it is extremely important to seek professional help when you are struggling with alcohol addiction. 

The Dangers of Alcohol Poisoning

When a person has consumed a large quantity of alcohol within a short period, they are at risk of developing alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning occurs when a toxic level of this substance enters the bloodstream. There are several signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning, which could lead to fatality if left untreated. If you or a loved one is showing signs of alcohol poisoning, you must seek medical attention right away. 

Signs and Symptoms

There are several signs that a person is struggling with alcohol poisoning. A person may show different signs at earlier periods than others, but this will depend on several factors such as the individual’s weight, age, tolerance levels, and more. If someone is showing the following signs, seek medical attention right away: 

Alcohol Withdrawal Signs

When a person who struggles with alcohol addiction starts the withdrawal process, they will experience several different physical and psychological symptoms.


Some of the physical symptoms are:


They may also struggle with some psychological symptoms such as: 

Getting Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

There are several different options when it comes to getting treatment for alcohol addiction. After seeking medical attention during the withdrawal process through a rehab facility or hospital, it is important to create a treatment plan with a professional. 


Counseling is a great way to start working on different triggers and behaviors that a person might be struggling with. Working with a counselor can help a person learn new behaviors to replace their old habits.

Treating Underlying Problems

Therapies also allow a person to work on underlying problems. Mental health, trauma, or several other factors can lead to someone struggling with alcoholism. By going to therapy, a person can work on addressing these issues without alcohol. 


Alcoholics anonymous is a very successful program that helps many people work the steps of recovery. It gives a person a community of people that have struggled with the same things they do.  


Detox programs are very beneficial during the stages of withdrawal. It allows a person to work through the side effects of withdrawal with professionals while receiving assistance to make it through the process. 


Some doctors will use medication to help lower the side effects of withdrawal and to help with weaning a person off a substance. There are a few drugs that help people get through the early stages of withdrawal during detox. 


Finally, cognitive-behavioral therapy and other methods are effective when it comes to helping a person change their unwanted behaviors and replace them with new ones. By using therapy, a person can set themselves up for long-term success outside of a rehab or detox facility. 

If you or a loved one are struggling with AUD, it is important to seek professional advice and help. There are several negative side effects to long-term alcohol misuse. By seeking out treatment today, you can change paths and step into recovery.