Ten Warning Signs of Alcoholism
Written by Amy Pusey (last updated April 22, 2009)
Alcoholics do not drink as a means of entertainment, to relieve a case of boredom, or simply to quench their thirst. It is a disease that often does not receive the same respect as other illnesses, and individuals caught in its steely grip eventually find their lives spiraling out of control. To a sufferer, alcohol is more than a craving that must be satisfied. The need to consume it becomes as vital a necessity as the need to breathe. While alcoholics are aware of the dangers, continued use may be inevitable because many are unable to seek or maintain sobriety. The disease characterized by four key elements.
- Craving. Develops in the mind and body. The mind creates negative obsessions, specifically with preoccupation.
- Impaired Control. The quantity of alcohol consumed cannot be controlled, or one's behavior after its consumption.
- Dependence. An afflicted person becomes physically and biologically dependent on alcohol.
- Tolerance. The individual may require greater volumes of alcohol to achieve any effect from it.
There are common symptoms associated with alcoholism. If you believe someone you care about may be an alcoholic, they may demonstrate an inability to function in their life roles, including work, home, and family. They display inappropriate public behavior that may result in legal difficulties, such as DUIs or disorderly conduct. Relationship issues may also become apparent because use often triggers verbal and physical arguments.
Also important to note, is the fact that alcoholism can present at any time in an individual's life. It is a progressive disease that will only become worse if not treated. Suspecting behavior will ignite questions, and to help you identify a potential alcoholic in your life, here are ten warning signs:
- Personality Changes. Moods may fluctuate rather unpredictably, suddenly changing from happy-go-lucky, to dismal and depressed, or even angry. An overly pleasant demeanor may be used as a tool to calm someone who is upset with their erratic behavior.
- Drinking to Relax. If every stressor experienced by the individual requires a drink to help them relax, they could be experiencing alcoholism. This is true if a drink is necessary to deal with even the usual, daily stress associated with getting the kids from school, a barking dog, or making dinner on time.
- Lonely Drinker. Alcoholics will often drink by themselves in the solitude of their home or secluded space, so others are not aware of how much they are actually drinking, and the frequency of their drinking.
- Increased Over Year. If you notice that an individual has dramatically increased their alcohol consumption over the past year, it may be due to the fact they have had to increase the quantity in order to attain the same effects previously achieved with lesser amounts.
- Alcohol-related Accidents. Does the individual drink and then see no problem with driving even when heavily intoxicated, or have they experienced numerous vehicle accidents over a 12-month period? Alcoholics will not always understand they are impaired and should not get behind the wheel.
- Drinking to Start the Day. There are alcoholics who have reached a point where they are unable to face the day without first having an alcoholic beverage to give them the courage to make it until their next drink.
- Hiding Alcohol. The more possessed an alcoholic becomes by their disease the more possessive they become of their elixir, and will seek to find safe havens for their bottles so it is never out of reach. They also will tend to hide it to convince those concerned about them that they are not drinking nearly as much as they are suspected to be drinking.
- Avoiding Alcohol-Free Zones. People who have become dependent on alcohol, and need it readily available, will do everything they can to avoid going places that do not serve, or do not allow, alcohol on the premises. They need to know that as soon as that urge strikes them they can secure a drink.
- Denial. Generally, an alcoholic will deny having any type of problem. They will assert that they are a modest drinker and can stop at any time because it is under control. In fact, some alcoholics who hide their addiction may even proclaim they do not touch the stuff.
- Blackouts. Alcoholics can have episodes where they will drink extensively and then not be able to recall where they have been, what they have done, or conversations they might have had. This can happen to an individual who appears to be a functioning alcoholic, who displays no other signs.
Alcoholism is not just a one-person disease. It is a family disease because as it breaks down the individual, it also breaks down the family sometimes permanently damaging the relationships with spouses, children, parents, siblings, and friends. In addition to medical treatment, that is why communities make available supportive programs, including Alcoholics Anonymous (AA,) Al-Anon for spouses and family of alcoholics, and Ala-Teen for children and teenagers of alcoholics. If you identify with any of the symptoms or warning signs, take the first step and seek medical assistance today.