Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

If you drink a lot of alcohol, you might become dependent on it

If you drink a lot of alcohol, you might become dependent on it
beginning of content

Alcoholism at home

4-minute read

Alcohol is used more than any other addictive drug in Australia. If you suspect that you drink too much, or someone you live with might have a problem, then it might be helpful to know the warning signs and where to find help.

What is alcoholism?

If you drink a lot of alcohol, you might become dependent on it to make you feel good. Your drinking behaviour could tip over into alcoholism, a type of substance abuse.

The signs of alcoholism

You or someone you know might be drinking too much if they:

  • have a strong urge to drink
  • cannot control how much they drink
  • feel physical effects like nausea, sweating, shakiness and anxiety if they stop after a period of heavy drinking
  • need to drink more over time to get the same good feeling
  • drink while alone, or hide alcohol from members of the household
  • struggle with work, education or relationships for no obvious reason
  • lie about how much they drink
  • drink early in the day or are anxious about when they will be able to drink
  • forget what they said or did while they were drinking

Effects of alcoholism

If you drink too much alcohol, you are at increased risk of illnesses such as heart disease and liver disease, cancer, diabetes and damage to the brain. It can also have a bad effect on those around you as it is a key player in car accidents, family violence and crime.

Although it seems to make you feel good, alcohol can increase the risk of depression and anxiety and also can make these worse if they are already present.

If you are a family member or friend living with an alcoholic you are likely to feel upset, angry, anxious, guilty, stressed, disappointed and helpless at various times.

If you are a carer, carers associations in your state or territory can provide counselling and help to organise respite care. Visit the Carer Gateway website or call 1800 422 737 (Monday-Friday, 8am-6pm) for more information.

Treatment for alcoholism

The most important starting point for treatment is to talk to your doctor about how to control your alcohol consumption. You can search for a doctor in your region here.

Treatment options depend on the strength of alcohol dependence. For low level dependence, your doctor might discuss the problem with you and suggest changes you can make or recommend counselling.

Stronger dependence will need different treatments to manage the effects of alcohol withdrawal. The treatments might include:

Preventing alcoholism and harm

Becoming familiar with the Australian guidelines for low-risk drinking habits can help guard against alcoholism. If you have children, you should talk to them about drugs, alcohol and mental health, including binge drinking.

Being a good role model can also help.

ReachOut.com has information about addiction and mental health for teenagers.

 

More information

Last reviewed: March 2018

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Alcohol - Alcohol

Information about alcohol-related health issues and Australian Government policy.

Read more on Department of Health website

Signs you might have a drinking problem | Alcohol | ReachOut Australia

Know if you are an alcoholic or not? Read about the warning signs and symptoms of alcohol dependance that informs you might have a drinking problem.

Read more on ReachOut.com website

Alcohol :: SA Health

An introduction to the section on alcohol including information for people with alcohol problems, community members and health professionals

Read more on SA Health website

OnTrack Alcohol

OnTrack Alcohol aims to help people cut back on their drinking. The program was written by psychologists and uses methods that have been shown in research to be helpful.

Read more on OnTrack website

OnTrack Alcohol and Depression

OnTrack Alcohol and Depression aims to help people improve their mood and cut back on their drinking. The program was written by psychologists and uses methods that have been shown in research to be helpful.

Read more on OnTrack website

Alcohol - Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre

Read more on Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet website

Alcohol - Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre

Read more on Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet website

Alcohol addiction | Alcohol | ReachOut Australia

There's a big difference between enjoying a drink and having an alcohol addiction. Knowing what the difference is can prevent the harmful effects of alcohol addiction.

Read more on ReachOut.com website

Alcohol Addiction Issues | ReachOut Australia

Alcohol addiction or Alcoholism is a serious issue. At ReachOut, you can find out about the common signs, effects of alcohol addiction & where to go for help.

Read more on ReachOut.com website

Alcohol and withdrawal - OnTrack

OnTrack offers online psychology services such as free online treatment programs, information and facts about mental and physical health, information and advice on where to get help and access to quizzes with immediate feedback.

Read more on OnTrack website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo