Many Toronto residents may be up against a serious alcohol problem without realizing it, whether the problem lies in themselves or in a colleague, friend, or family member. That is because different people "hold their liquor" with varying degrees of success, and some high-functioning alcoholics never appear obviously inebriated.
Nevertheless, it is possible through close observation to detect the signs of alcoholism (physical and mental addiction to alcohol) or alcohol abuse (destructive drinking habits independent of, but often prefacing, addiction).
Alcohol addiction can be easier to detect than mere abusive drinking patterns in certain respects. For one thing, an alcoholic cannot silence or deny the compulsion to drink, an obvious sign of psychological dependence. In advanced alcoholics, forced sobriety may cause dramatic and even potential dangerous signs of physical addiction as well, in the form of withdrawal.
Withdrawal symptoms can include sweating, trembling, uncontrollable anxiety, and seizures. Severe withdrawal may cause hallucinations, fever, and tachycardia (dangerously fast heartbeat), a potentially fatal combination requiring immediate medical treatment.
Alcoholics also exhibit changes in personality or productivity levels, a trait shared with non-addicted alcohol abusers. sudden, unexplainable absenteeism from work, failing grades in school, and withdrawal from normal daily activities can point toward a drinking problem. Alcoholics and alcohol abusers may also become sloppy in their dress or housekeeping, forget (or neglect) important appointments, and spend less time with their loved ones.
Legal issues may act as a "smoking gun" in cases of alcoholism and abusive drinking behaviors, particularly where vehicles are concerned. Someone in the middle of a drinking binge may rationally understand the foolhardiness of drinking and driving without taking that information to heart when it's time to head home from the bar.
That's because alcohol depresses the centers of judgement in the brain. They may also feel compelled to drive to the liquor store while under the influence, regardless of the possible consequences. One DUI offense might be a simple error; a string of them indicates a clear and present danger.
Fortunately, alcoholism can be controlled, and abusive drinking habits modified, through the efforts of skilled counselors in the field of substance abuse and the multitude of Toronto rehab programs available. Admitting the need for help can be difficult, but the improvement in quality of life these individuals can obtain makes it more than worthwhile.