In today’s world, it’s surprising just how easy it is to hide an alcohol addiction. For some people, developing alcohol addiction may become obvious very quickly, whereas for others it may be easily disguised, especially if they spend a lot of time alone, or mask their alcohol dependence amongst social events.
The definition of alcoholism or alcohol dependence means a person is unwilling or unable to control their drinking habit to the point where they are dependent on alcohol in order to feel good. An alcoholic may even need alcohol to go about their normal daily activities. Read on to discover some of the signs of alcoholism.
What are the signs of alcoholism?
There are many signs to look out for if you suspect someone you love may be dependent on alcohol, ranging from the mental to physical and social signs. It’s important to note that, as everyone experiences alcohol differently due to a range of factors, no two alcoholics are the same. Some may display different signs than others.
We’ve already talked about the symptoms of alcoholism, but it’s not always easy to tell when someone else has a drinking problem and is clever about hiding it.
So, here are some of the tell-tale signs of alcoholism in people you know.
Sign 1: They don’t want to cut back on drinking
The first sign of alcoholism in someone you love is that they probably don’t want to stop drinking, or cannot. This includes things like:
- Making excuses for their drinking habits, such as only drinking due to important events, peer pressure or stress
- Getting irritated or angry when people bring up their excessive drinking habits
- Refusing to cut back on drinking, or finding ways to pretend to cut back while still drinking a lot
- Getting agitated when asked questions about drinking even while sober
Sign 2: They drink first thing in the morning, or drink to get over a hangover
Some drinkers will drink alcohol first thing in the morning, as a coping mechanism to deal with daily activities like work or school. Others may be drinking early in the day to deal with hangover symptoms from the day before.
Either way, this is a dangerous habit to fall into and can be a clear sign of an alcoholic. You may be able to smell alcohol on the drinker’s breath in the morning, and they may be keeping alcohol in their room or at their desk at work.
Sign 3: Their drinking has interfered at work or in school
The effects of alcoholism can cause ongoing mental and physical issues, which can impact performance at work, school or other daily activities. A drinker may be experiencing ongoing hangovers or alcohol withdrawals, including physical sicknesses such as nausea, weakness, shakiness, and fatigue. On top of this, alcoholism can also cause ongoing mental symptoms such as irritability, moodiness, delusions or long-term mental health problems.
Naturally, these symptoms can make it hard for an alcoholic to successfully perform well at work or school, and this may lead to warnings, demotions, punishments at school or a decline in performance.
Sign 4: They hide drinking habits or feel ashamed of drinking
An alcoholic will often hide their drinking habits, so it can be tricky to determine how much they may be drinking, or if their drinking is even a major issue. Luckily there are some clear signs of alcoholism that drinkers may display, such as:
- Unexplained scrapes and bruises from injuries while drinking
- Developing a strong tolerance to alcohol which increases over time
- Brushing teeth at strange times of the day or using mints and gum to mask the smell of alcohol
- Becoming difficult to contact, or being unreachable for days at a time
- Loss of motivation and energy
- Constant or unexplained lateness
- Money troubles, borrowing money, stealing items or selling personal items to get more money
- Forgetfulness or sleepiness
If some of these signs sound familiar and you feel that someone you know may be showing signs of alcoholism, it’s important not to accuse them and approach the issue gently. At the same time, it’s crucial that the drinker knows that they have a loving, caring and open-minded support system. For more information on the treatment for alcohol dependency or to get help for you or someone you love, click here.
Program Director & Psychologist
Emanuele has a compassionate approach to clients’ struggles, in order to promote awareness and initiate together the transformative process. His treatment approaches range from Gestalt, Emotionally Focused Therapy, Dialectical and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, EMDR, ACT, Neuropsychotherapy, Sensorymotor Psychotherapy and Cape Cod Model for Couple Therapy.