Physical Signs of Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a serious medical disease that causes a major disruption in a person’s life. For some, it can be hard to understand that they have crossed the line from merely drinking a lot to having an alcohol use disorder. It can also be difficult for family members and friends to recognize that their loved one is in trouble and needs help. For these reasons, it’s important for people to recognize the physical signs of alcoholism. Once they do, they can take the important step of arranging for life-saving treatment

What Are the Physical Signs of Alcoholism?

The physical signs of alcoholism can vary per person, but many of them are commonly seen in someone who has developed an addiction to alcohol. Some of them include:

Difficulty With Coordination

Many people who drink to excess stumble when they walk, have trouble doing simple tasks, and often lose their balance. Over time, alcohol addiction causes the brain to become damaged, thus increasing the difficulty of regaining good coordination, even after becoming sober. 

Facial Changes

Many people who suffer from alcoholism develop red, blotchy facial skin, including discoloration of their noses and cheeks. This is because excessive alcohol consumption causes the blood vessels to enlarge and become damaged. Additionally, many people experience bloating in their faces due to the dehydration alcohol consumption causes.

Changes in Weight 

For many people, their appetite decreases because they fill up from drinking alcohol. This can cause them to lose weight because they do not consume enough food. In contrast, many people ignore eating nutritional meals in favor of high-fat and high-calorie foods. As a result, they end up gaining weight.

Developing a Tolerance 

People who deal with alcoholism typically reach a stage of tolerance for the usual amount of alcohol they consume. Then, they increase the amount in order to achieve the same effects. 

Withdrawal Symptoms 

When the person is unable to drink alcohol for a while, they often begin exhibiting withdrawal symptoms. These can include nausea, sweating, tremors, moodiness, and hallucinations. 

Mental Confusion

Long-term alcohol abuse damages the brain, often resulting in a person being easily confused. They may find it difficult to think clearly, make decisions, or remember events that happened. 

Poor Hygiene 

Alcoholism can cloud someone’s judgment and ability to care about their personal hygiene. They may avoid regular bathing, brushing their hair and teeth, dressing appropriately, or wearing clean clothing. 

Injuries and Accidents 

Due to poor coordination and bad judgment, many alcoholics injure themselves or get into accidents. They may make excuses for what happened or not remember what occurred because of being drunk during the event.


A person who drinks to excess may exhibit shakiness. When they do not have access to alcohol, they may experience shaking or tremors, which are signs a person is going through withdrawal. 

Can Physical Signs of Alcoholism Include Diseases?

Once someone abuses alcohol for a long time, they may end up facing medical diseases as a result. These include:

Liver Disease: The leading cause of death due to alcohol-related illness is liver disease. This includes both cirrhosis of the liver and cancer. If the individual does not get help for their alcoholism, liver disease can become irreversible. 

Heart Disease: Alcoholism can cause the heart muscle to weaken and result in several serious medical conditions. These include heart disease, cardiomyopathy, heart failure, stroke, and hypertension.

Cancer: Alcoholism can be a contributing factor to the development of different kinds of cancer. These include liver, breast, esophageal, colorectal, head, neck, and more.
Weakened Immune System: Excessive alcohol consumption can make the immune system malfunction. This can result in difficulty fighting viral infections, stomach issues, and healing wounds. 

How Are the Physical Signs of Alcoholism Treated?

When someone enters treatment for an alcohol use disorder, treatment addresses more than one area of impact. Physical signs of alcoholism are assessed by a medical expert who can then design a plan of treatment for them. This may involve using FDA-approved medications, beginning during the detox process. The meds can be continued into the next stages of recovery to help reduce and eliminate some of the physical damage. In some cases, damage can be undone when a person receives the proper treatment. The earlier alcohol rehab begins, the more effective treatment can be. 

In addition to physical signs of alcoholism, emotional and psychological ones can be addressed in treatment. This includes things like anxiety, depression, agitation, and moodiness.

Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

When alcoholism takes over a person’s life, they cannot live up to their potential or be there for their loved ones. Tampa Bay Recovery offers an evidence-based treatment program that addresses the psychological and physical signs of alcoholism, resulting in you learning to become sober for life. We provide multiple types of outpatient services, including medication-assisted treatment that helps ease and eliminate many withdrawal symptoms. This allows people to enjoy a more comfortable detox process when they stop drinking.

If you or a loved one has decided it’s time to get control of your life again, visit our admissions page now. We can answer any questions you have and help you get started on living sober today.