Most people with “drinking problems” look just like everyone else—for a while. As months pass and the problem continues, however, signs of drinking too much too often start becoming visible for everyone to see.
If the following symptoms are bothering you regularly (or if your family and acquaintances are dropping hints about them), you may be heading into serious trouble. Contact an alcohol detox center immediately.
- You’re getting sloppy with your self-care.
When an unhealthy relationship with alcohol starts to take over your life, other life priorities are the first casualties. You lose interest in your job, your friends, and your hobbies—and also in your dress, grooming and hygiene.
Are you starting to skip shaving, showering, combing your hair or putting on makeup? Have you gone from carefully planning your day’s wardrobe to throwing on whatever’s in reach? Are your work clothes starting to look wrinkled and your good shoes scuffed? Has it been longer than usual since you bought new clothes?
When you go for a routine physical, does the receptionist comment you “don’t look too good” before you even sign in? Has your dentist said your teeth and gums are showing effects of reduced brushing and flossing, or even of frequent vomiting? For that matter, are you still going for medical and dental checkups at all?
Are you frequently skipping meals, or eating more “convenience food”? Are you going to bed later, oversleeping, getting up with greater difficulty—or falling asleep more quickly but waking in the night more frequently and more rumpled? (That last point is a common result of too much to drink too close to bedtime.)
Have others asked if you’re sleeping or eating poorly? Do they hint that you’re slowing down, or that you look tired all the time? Has anyone asked why you don’t have lunch with the group anymore?
If you’re also in the habit of “needing” more than one or two drinks a day, or drinking at unusual hours, any of the above could indicate you need alcohol detox treatment.
- You’re having frequent muscle tremors.
It’s no secret that just about anyone will lose muscle coordination when drunk—and that someone coming off a binge will frequently be “shaky” in the hands, if not all over the body. What’s less well known is that post-drunk tremors aren’t simply an aftereffect that “could happen to anybody”—more often than not, they indicate that addiction is already taking hold.
Of course, “the shakes” can have other causes, from early-onset Parkinson’s disease to chronic anxiety to one too many cups of coffee. If, however, the onset of frequent muscle tremors coincides with an increase in drinking, the tremors are likely more than “ordinary” drunken incoordination wearing off. Especially if it’s been more than eight hours since your last drink, and you shake less after a fresh one.
When shaking increases proportionate to time since the last drink, that’s a common symptom of alcohol withdrawal. Under the “depressant” effects of alcohol, brain and nerve cells go into the low-response mode and don’t notice outside stimulation as much. Especially if they’re learning to see that depressed state as “normal,” the nervous system opens up to a perceived flash flood of input when alcohol starts to wear off, and the nerves go hyperactive, discharging the “extra” activity through involuntary muscle movements. If you’re thinking about how long you’ll have to wait until the next drink, conscious anxiety will likely make the shaking worse.
With a person in full alcohol detox (acute or post-acute withdrawal), the shakiness may turn into a seizure, which is why professional alcohol detox centers keep patients under medical observation in case of physical danger.
- Your complexion is changing color.
Many people experience a temporary “flushed face” after a drink or two, as blood pressure returns to its normal levels after being temporarily lowered by alcohol’s depressive effects. If blood pressure rises past a certain point before the alcohol can be fully metabolized, enough extra blood rushes to the face to show a visible change in color. (People who experience regular post-drink flushing should get tested for hypertension and prehypertension, even if possible alcoholism isn’t an issue.)
The stereotypical “alcoholic red nose,” however, is due to enlarged or ruptured blood vessels under the facial skin, and this indicates overall circulation has been affected. If your face looks red regardless of how many hours it’s been since your last drink, you probably need to detox from alcohol. Worse yet is a “jaundiced,” or yellowish, appearance to the skin; this may indicate liver damage, especially if you also develop a persistent itch, feel bloated in the stomach, or start to bleed and bruise easily.
(If your skin is too dark to easily show changes in color, look at the whites of your eyes—and consider whether you frequently feel hot in the face.)
If you’re showing two or three of the above signs and still hate to admit you need an alcohol detox program, here are a few more visible signs that could be trying to tell you-you to have a problem:
- Frequent fatigue and low energy
- Vacant expression
- Losing or gaining weight (consuming too much alcohol can mean the rest of one’s diet gets neglected or handled carelessly)
- Drying out of skin, hair, and nails
- Premature wrinkling of the skin
- Sudden increase in freckles or “age spots”
- Frequent bruises of uncertain origin
Not to mention the less “visible” but still obvious symptoms: repeated hangovers and memory blackouts, constant moodiness, declining effectiveness in everyday duties, being unable to stop after one drink despite all promises and good intentions. And, perhaps especially, still wanting to explain away all the above and put off considering alcohol detox as an option.
Stop putting it off; the problem’s not going to go away if you ignore it. Contact an alcohol detox center today.
Note to those who witness another’s heavy drinking: Even people who normally consume alcohol in healthy amounts can “drink themselves to death” on a binge. If someone has multiple drinks in a short period and begins vomiting violently, gasping for breath or turning blue, or if they collapse and can’t be wakened, these are visible signs of a life-threatening alcohol overdose. Call for emergency medical assistance immediately.
If you or a loved one struggle with alcoholism, call Inland Detox today at (888) 739-8296. We’ll provide advice, support, and treatment for your journey to sobriety.