Alcoholism: The Signs, Symptoms & Risks

Drinking alcohol is widely accepted within our society, and its ability to lower inhibitions and relax the mind is what many people find appealing. For those suffering from alcoholism however, having just one drink can result in serious physical, psychological, and social consequences.

If you’re concerned about a person’s relationship with alcohol, then call CATCH Recovery London to speak in confidence to a trained professional. We are here to help, make recommendations and find the right treatment for you or your loved one.

Signs of Alcoholism


The signs of alcoholism can be difficult to identify, especially in a functioning alcoholic. However, there are more obvious symptoms that could indicate a drinking problem. If you’re concerned about your drinking habits or suspect a loved one may have a problem with alcohol, it’s important you familiarise yourself with some of the most common signs listed below:

  • Alcohol cravings
  • Constant irritability at home 
  • Professional consequences from drinking like being suspended or laid off 
  • Legal trouble
  • Financial problems/distress
  • Interpersonal relationship challenges
  • Behavioural and physical changes
  • Anti-social behaviour 

Physical Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse

The physical symptoms of alcoholism are difficult to disguise long-term. Years of alcohol abuse can lead to alcohol poisoning, liver failure as well as many other physical complications. The intake of such a vast number of calories can cause bloating, reddening of the face and excessive sweating. Perspiration is often a result of your system trying to eliminate the toxins that have built up over time. However, for someone physically dependent on alcohol, this could also indicate the body’s need for more.

Symptoms of alcohol use include:

  • Alcohol infused breath
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Clumsy and disorientated movements
  • Vomiting
  • Memory loss
  • Risky behaviour
  • Slurred speech
  • Irrational emotions

If continuously used, the physical symptoms will be more serious and sometimes deadly. These include:

  • Alcohol cravings
  • Withdrawal symptoms: tremors/involuntary shaking 
  • Weight gain
  • Puffy/swollen looking face
  • Memory blackouts
  • Frequent hangovers
  • Insomnia
  • Slow breathing
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting/nausea
  • Confusion
  • Clammy skin
  • Sweating
  • Delayed responses
  • Organ damage
  • Sudden death

Accidents and injuries caused by excessive drinking are commonly reported in A&E departments, some of which can be fatal. This is due to alcohol’s ability to impair physical coordination, and lowers inhibitions, often leading to dangerous consequences.

Other Symptoms of Alcoholism

Alcohol is a psychoactive drug with mind-altering properties, and long-term abuse can result in tolerance. Tolerance to alcohol occurs when you no longer experience the same physical effects from drinking and therefore require higher quantities in order to achieve the same effects as you once did.

As you increase the amount you drink, the possibility of experiencing negative consequences also increases. Alcohol abuse can result in aggressive and uncharacteristic behaviour that can also impact family, friends, and work colleagues. Due to significantly reduced inhibitions, one of the biggest risks associated with alcohol abuse is drunk driving. This not only puts the driver in danger but also the passengers in the car, pedestrians, other road users and can often lead to fatal accidents and criminal convictions.

Other behavioural  symptoms include:

  • Relationship issues
  • Legal issues
  • Financial issues
  • Disinterest in hobbies or activities 
  • Forgetfulness 
  • Risk-taking behaviour, e.g. drinking while driving
  • Drinking different times of the day
  • Drinking alone
  • Drinking while driving
  • Inability to fulfil responsibilities 
  • Inability to reduce alcohol intake
  • Inability to say no to alcohol
  • Appearing tired, unwell or irritable
  • Quick changes in mood
  • Deceptive behaviour
  • Other mental health issues: depression, anxiety
  • Substantial time spent on discussing, thinking or planning their life around their alcohol use.

Someone misusing alcohol on a daily basis will often attempt to hide their drinking because of the stigma still associated with alcoholism. This in turn can lead to isolation and depression.

The Risks

The Risks

Alcohol is toxic if over-consumed and prolonged heavy drinking can result in the following physiological consequences:

  • Alcoholic brain damage
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Memory blackouts
  • Anxiety & depression
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS)
  • Infertility in men and women
  • Increased risk of types of cancer

If you’re finding that alcohol has taken priority over other important aspects of your life, such as family, friends, work and is beginning to affect your health, it’s time to seek help. Alcoholism is a progressive disease that can develop rapidly if not addressed with the appropriate treatment.

Unfortunately, many people suffering from alcohol addiction avoid seeking help because of the guilt and shame attached to this illness. If you’re struggling with alcoholism or feel concerned about your drinking habits or those of a loved one, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. While seeking help may initially feel overwhelming, treatment for alcoholism is available in many forms, whether you choose inpatient treatment, free drug and alcohol services or support groups.

Begin recovery from alcoholism today

If you’ve decided you no longer wish to live your life stuck in the unrelenting cycle of alcohol addiction, CATCH Recovery is here to help you on your path to recovery.

Services we offer:

Our clinic is located in central London and we also provide referrals to rehabs in other areas in the UK, Ireland, Sweden and The Netherlands.