10 Common Symptoms of Alcoholism
As a loved one, a close friend or even a work colleague, there are a few simple signs of alcoholism that are easy to recognize. If you’re reading this due to concern about your own drinking problem, review the information and consider sharing your findings with someone you can trust.
While we refer to these as typical symptoms, they can also be looked at as habits. As a drinking problem will eventually manifest into alcohol dependency, and further into alcoholism, the drink itself becomes the habit that controls every aspect of one’s existence.
The following consists of these 10 habits that people with a drinking problem exhibit throughout the course of their journey into alcoholism. They are broken down into three categories: social, physical and emotional symptoms, though the order in which they occur may differ, depending on the individual.
Social Signs of Alcoholism
Social symptoms of alcohol addiction are among the most common out of the three categories mentioned above and clearly point to a problem with alcohol:
If a loved one keeps getting into trouble with the law regarding excessive alcohol consumption, a drinking problem is probably to blame, though if this is a one-time offense which took place years ago, a current drinking problem may not be the case. However, having more than one DUI, arrests for public intoxication, arrests for public indecency or brawling, these are all examples of the social signs of alcohol addiction.
If drinking habits are the source of trouble with the law on more than one occasion, alcoholism is at play.
When drinking begins to outweigh a person’s regular day-to-day priorities, alcohol intake has taken control of a person’s decision-making.
These priorities usually include basic responsibilities such as turning up to work on time, if at all, meeting deadlines, or fetching children from school. If these responsibilities are being overlooked because of drinking, this is a major warning sign.
Here’s a comparison:
a. Responsible drinking usually takes place when all your daily responsibilities are taken care of.
b. Problematic drinking usually occurs in place of or while these responsibilities should be prioritized.
Responsible drinking requires self-control. For anyone wrestling with alcohol dependency, this is impossible and alcohol consumption cannot be made a priority at any time of day.
If drinking habits begin to affect the quality of more than one relationship, it’s time to take a look at the reality of what’s really going on.
Some basic examples of how alcohol intake affects relationships are:
a. Neglecting a significant other
b. Choosing to drink instead of spending time with your spouse, partner, significant other
c. Neglecting the time needed or care for children, both physically and emotionally
If there is no spouse or children in the picture, close friendships and coworkers may experience the brunt of neglect due to unhealthy drinking habits. This could also be coupled with aggressive, defensive, and argumentative behavior.
It’s also important to assess the ability for self-care. If you suspect alcoholism in you or someone else, take note of personal hygiene and appearance. If unkempt, appearing unhealthy, scatter-brained or unusually aggressive, alcoholism could be to blame.
Physical Signs of Alcoholism
The physical signs of alcoholism can often be tricky to fully recognize as any non-alcoholic could display these too. But if you have your suspicions about issues with alcohol, look out for these physical signs:
A High Alcohol Tolerance
If a loved one is consuming an entire 12-pack of beer before even feeling a ”buzz”, this is a clear-as-day sign of a binge drinking problem.
Most people with a regular alcohol tolerance would feel buzzed after three to four beers, depending on their size, metabolism, and other factors. If a person’s alcohol tolerance seems unusually high, this is a sure-fire way to tell they drink in excess.
Essentially, a high tolerance to alcohol means a person has built up a resistance to the effects of alcohol over time. In turn, they need to drink more than before to achieve their desired ”high” – a well-known sign of substance abuse and addiction.
Failure to Recognize When ”Enough is Enough”
If you are on a ”bender”, drink more than one alcoholic beverage and get drunk, this is simply known as alcohol abuse or binge drinking. But if a person drinks until they physically cannot drink anymore, this is a sign of alcoholism. Also, people with a drinking problem can binge-drink often, representing alcohol dependency as well. When a person fails to recognize that they’ve clearly had enough and continues to binge drink, without limit, they could very well be an alcoholic.
People who are in control of their drinking habits generally know when ”enough is enough” and they’ve reached their limit. Those with a drinking problem may not appear to have a limit or even care to set themselves one—a precursor to and evidence of alcoholism.
Drinking limits tend to differ from one person to the next but if you or a loved one does not know personal limit, this is a sign of alcoholism.
Substantial Memory Loss
Heavy drinking over an extended period of time is known to induce permanent forms of amnesia. If you have been known to drink to the point of oblivion or blackout, this is a sign of alcohol addiction.
Drinking enough alcohol to cause a blackout means you have, in essence, forced your mind into a state of temporary amnesia. Temporary periods of memory loss due to many years of drinking can lead to permanent memory loss and point to a very serious problem with alcohol.
Most people with a drinking problem tend to live, breathe, sleep, and think alcohol. Their every thought and action is usually centered around when they can get their hands on their next drink.
Daily drinking, even if it’s just a couple of beers at night, could signify a drinking problem.
Moderate alcohol consumption*:
Men – no more than 2 drinks per day
Women – no more than 1 drink per day
CDC, Dietary Guidelines for Americans
*Meant to gage drinking limit for a single day, not to be used as an average for multiple days.
To bring this to a global scale, a recent study reviewed hundreds of previous studies conducted from all over the world, examining drinking behaviors and outcomes related to this habit. The researchers concluded that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption, as the risks of drinking far outweigh any perceived benefits.
The mere act of getting drunk every day, even after work or daily responsibilities have been met, is another obvious sign of alcoholism.