Alcohol Abuse and Dependence
When to Call a Doctor
Call 911 or other emergency services if you or someone else:
- Has the symptoms of Reference alcohol poisoning Opens New Window. These can include vomiting, coughing up blood, gasping for breath, passing out, and seizures.
- Has a history of heavy drinking and is having severe Reference withdrawal symptoms Opens New Window but is not willing to get treatment.
- Has Reference delirium tremens (DTs) Opens New Window, which can lead to death. Symptoms can include seizure, shaking, a fast heartbeat, and seeing or hearing things that aren't there (hallucinations).
- Is thinking or talking about Reference suicide Opens New Window or harming others. For more information, see the Reference warning signs of suicide.
Call a doctor right away if you or someone you care about:
- Has withdrawal symptoms, such as confusion and trembling.
- Agrees to be seen for possible treatment. You need to call right away, because people who agree to get help often don't follow through with making the appointment.
- Has stopped drinking but starts drinking again (has a Reference relapse Opens New Window).
- Has severe stomach pain.
Call a doctor if you're concerned that you or someone you care about may have an alcohol problem. To learn what to look for, see Reference Symptoms.
Watchful waiting is a wait-and-see approach. Watchful waiting is not a good choice for alcohol abuse and dependence. If you have concerns about your drinking or the drinking of someone you care about, talk to your doctor. Early treatment makes recovery more likely.
Who to see
Health professionals who diagnose and treat alcohol problems include:
- Reference Family medicine doctors Opens New Window.
- Reference General practitioners Opens New Window.
- Reference Nurse practitioners Opens New Window.
- Reference Physician assistants Opens New Window.
- Reference Internists Opens New Window.
- Reference Psychiatrists Opens New Window.
- Reference Psychologists Opens New Window.
Other health professionals who can help with recovery include:
- Reference Addiction psychiatrists Opens New Window, or other doctors who specialize in addiction medicine.
- Reference Licensed mental health counselors Opens New Window.
- Reference Social workers Opens New Window.
Find a health professional who has chemical dependency certification (CDC) or is a certified alcoholism counselor (CAC).
Support groups can also help you and your family:
- Reference Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or similar support groups are for people with alcohol abuse or dependence.
- Al-Anon and Alateen (for teenagers) are for families and friends affected by someone's drinking.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference January 18, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Peter Monti, PhD - Alcohol and Addiction