Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism - Symptoms

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What were the symptoms of alcohol abuse or alcoholism in a friend or relative?

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What are alcohol abuse and alcoholism symptoms and signs in teenagers, women, men, and the elderly?

Signs that indicate a person is intoxicated include the smell of alcohol on their breath or skin, glazed or bloodshot eyes, the person being unusually passive or argumentative, and/or a deterioration in the person's appearance or hygiene. Other physical symptoms of the state of being drunk include flushed skin. Cognitively, the person may experience decreased ability to pay attention and a propensity toward memory loss.

Alcohol, especially when consumed in excess, can affect teens, women, men, and the elderly quite differently. Women and the elderly tend to have higher blood concentrations of alcohol compared to men and younger individuals who drink the same amount. Alcoholic women are more at risk for developing cirrhosis of the liver and heart and nerve damage at a faster rate than alcohol-dependent men. Interestingly, men and women seem to have similar learning and memory problems as the result of excessive alcohol intake, but again, women tend to develop those problems twice as fast as men.

Elderly people who drink excessively are at risk for having more serious illnesses, doctor visits, and symptoms of depression, with less life satisfaction and smaller social support networks compared to senior citizens who have never consumed alcohol. While binge drinking is often thought to be a symptom of young people, an often unknown, uncommon fact is that a significant percentage of middle-aged and elderly individuals also engage in binge drinking. This behavior increases the risk for driving drunk, no matter what the age.

Teenagers who consume alcohol excessively have been found to be at risk for abnormal organ development as the possible result of the hormonal abnormalities caused by alcohol. This is particularly a risk to their developing reproductive system. Just a few of the other many dangerous effects of alcohol abuse and alcoholism in teenagers include the following:

  • In contrast to adults, teens tend to abuse alcohol simultaneously with other substances, usually marijuana.

  • Male teens who drink heavily tend to complete fewer years of education compared to male teens who do not drink.

  • The younger a person is when they begin drinking, the more likely they are to develop a problem with alcohol.

  • Each year, almost 2,000 people under 21 years of age die in car crashes in which underage drinking is involved. Alcohol is involved in nearly half of all violent deaths involving teens.

  • More than three times the number of eighth-grade girls who drink heavily said they have attempted suicide compared to girls in that grade who do not drink.

  • Teens who drink are more likely to engage in sexual activity, have unprotected sex, have sex with a stranger, or be the victim or perpetrator of a sexual assault.

  • Excess alcohol use can cause or mask other emotional problems, like anxiety or depression.

  • Drinking in excess can lead to the use of other drugs, like marijuana, cocaine, or heroin.
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See what others are saying

Comment from: rommell, 55-64 Female (Caregiver) Published: August 28

She is gaining weight, and it seems more like bloating because she doesn't eat that much to gain the weight. Her eyes are turning yellow. She drinks from the time she gets up till she goes to bed.

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Comment from: sister #3, 35-44 Male (Caregiver) Published: July 14

My brother has always drunk his fair share. Fourteen months ago he was fired from his job with good reason. He started drinking more and more. My family and I did not find out how much until March 31, 2014. One of my sisters and I went his house to check on him because he wasn't answering calls or text messages. We found him to be severely yellow, stomach bloated, spots all over and very sick. He had been drinking 3 to 4 big bottles of Black Velvet a week. He was in the hospital for 5 days going through detoxification, then 6 weeks inpatient rehabilitation. Less than 2 weeks out of rehab and he is drinking. Some days are really bad. I found out he'll drink for 3 days straight not leaving the house. He says he is going to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings but he has lied so many times. I have yelled at him so many times finding him drunk at home or that he has been drinking. He goes to bars with 'friends'. I know he has to want to be sober and do it himself. It is extremely hard to watch him continue to destroy his life. He is still unemployed. I don't think he could handle a job with his drinking. Feeling very helpless and my heart is breaking.

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