I really knew that I was addicted to alcohol when I found that I would not be able to go to sleep–at all–if I was not drinking for a day. This clearly showed me my level of dependence on the drug and that I was hopelessly hooked on the stuff.
I also realized how addicted I had become to alcohol when I saw how much I would shake if I did not drink for a day or two. These are not subtle signs. These are big red warning flags that should smack you in the face and make you realize that your body is physically craving alcohol.
Of course it does not have to get this bad. On the other hand, it can actually get a lot worse. Ultimately the outcome of this is always going to be early death. Alcoholism will kill you about 10 to 30 years before your time, and that is if you are lucky enough to die from natural processes. Many alcoholics have other complications or health conditions that accelerate this process greatly if they continue to drink.
If you are addicted to alcohol then you are actually addicted to all addictive drugs. Keep in mind that alcohol is just another drug. And if you stop drinking but start popping pills, or start smoking something instead, then you have merely replaced one drug with another. This works for some people for a short time but eventually all drugs will lead you back to your drug of choice eventually. The reason this inevitably happens is because drugs compromise our ability to make good decisions. So trying to make good decisions consistently while taking lots of drugs is not a real practical approach. Eventually it falls through and we revert back to what we know best (which is to self medicate with our drug of choice).
Overcoming this addiction to alcohol takes a real decision on the part of the alcoholic. What I mean by “a real decision” is that they must surrender to their disease on a very deep level in order to change their life. This cannot happen if they are still trying to control things and manipulate things. True surrender happens when they are utterly defeated by their drinking, and they cannot figure out how to live anymore. They are completely baffled and don’t know what to do anymore. This is the point at which they should ask for help and start learning a new way to live without alcohol.