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Tolerance levels to alcohol differ from person to person and should consider how much food a person has eaten, their weight, the amounts consumed and by how frequently. The origins and routes to alcohol addiction also need to be understood on an individual basis, which often follows a pattern of alcohol abuse…

Binge drinking – a difficulty to regulate or stop consuming large quantities of alcohol, often within a relatively short period of time, and followed by periods of abstinence or normal drinking in between. A typical pattern would be binge drinking at the weekend or over a period of days but remaining sober during the week or for several weeks at a time.

Problem drinking – the next step from binge drinking involving consuming large amounts of alcohol with the deliberate intention to get drunk. At this stage, problem drinking can quickly progress into alcoholism or alcohol dependency.

Alcohol addiction – a physical and/or mental dependence upon alcohol. At this stage alcohol abuse has become alcoholism, the user starts to experience obsessive cravings for alcohol, a loss of control of drinking and withdrawal symptoms when not drinking. There are varying degrees of alcohol addiction and not all alcoholics drink all day, every day.

Physical Dependency – drinking frequent copious amounts of alcohol soon builds up a tolerance. To avoid the unpleasant effects of ‘withdrawal’, a level of alcohol must be constantly consumed.

Mental Dependency – the need for alcohol as a means of support to face events, situations, uncomfortable feelings or simply to relax or sleep. May not always be accompanied by a physical dependency on alcohol.

Further alcohol abuse – drugs or medications, such as Valium or sleeping tablets mixed with alcohol to obtain an enhanced effect and for a longer period.

Symptoms and Warning Signs

It’s not uncommon for men and women who suffer with alcohol addiction to try and hide their problem by becoming overly evasive, defensive or simply remaining stubbornly in denial. Professional help could be an urgent priority for the following behaviours, symptoms and warning signs:

Frequent use often leads to feeling anxious, restless, irritable, paranoid and aggressive.

Excessive use can cause loss of weight, insomnia, headaches, dizziness, nausea, blurred vision, poor co-ordination and irregular breathing and heartbeat. Stress can be placed on the body’s immune system and development of psychological illnesses, such as paranoia and psychosis.

Fatal use can occur for those users with high blood pressure or heart conditions, overdosing, or mixing alcohol or anti-depressants.

  • Frequently smelling of alcohol – trying to conceal the smell of alcohol with toothpaste, mints or perfume
  • Failing to keep appointments – going missing for days / frequently calling in sick to work due to hangovers
  • Rarely mildly intoxicated – frequently drinking to excess or drinking to unconsciousness
  • Uncharacteristic behaviours when drinking – violence, aggression, risk taking, melancholy
  • Shaking / vomiting
  • Hiding alcohol around the house
  • Blaming others for their problems and alcohol drinking
  • Reliance on alcohol to relax, fall asleep or to socialise


To find out more how we can help you or a loved one with alcohol addiction, please feel free to call us on 0203 960 8689

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