There are ways to distinguish someone who suffers from alcoholism from someone who drinks socially, but the signs can be difficult to face when they apply to a loved one. There are several questions to consider when reflecting on a relative’s alcohol consumption. Have your loved one’s drinking habits negatively affected your relationship with them? Has their drinking replaced their regular leisure activities? Do they become noticeably irritated or distressed when they cannot find a drink?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, or if your friend or relative displays the following behavioral traits, they may suffer from alcoholism.
Common Warning Signs that Your Loved One May be an Alcoholic
They Have Trouble Managing their Time and Money
People living with addiction have trouble making decisions and planning for the future, which impacts their time management skills. Your relative may lack productive habits, run late frequently, or forget about prior engagements altogether. In addition, changes in spending—such as a sudden desire to save money by cutting off their internet or cable or buying a less expensive car—could signify that your loved one is having financial problems because of their alcohol consumption.
Their Drinking Habits Have Caused Legal Problems
If your friend has been charged with driving under the influence or other crimes stemming from their drinking habits, their alcohol consumption has become more severe.
They Cannot Leave Their Drink Without Finishing It
People with a substance abuse problem have trouble leaving some of their drink behind, untouched. Similarly, once they start consuming alcohol, they are reluctant to stop.
They Make Excuses to Spend Time on Their Own
You might notice that your loved one sneaks away at points in group settings or returns home late from work. They are most likely isolating themselves to conceal how much they are actually drinking and avoid being judged for their alcohol consumption.
They Have Memory Loss After Drinking
If your loved one cannot remember what happened after a night of drinking due to blacking out, their habits constitute more than conventional “social drinking.” These bouts of amnesia point to more harmful binge drinking habits that can translate to long-term patterns of alcohol misuse.
They Express Shame about Their Drinking Habits
Many who suffer from alcoholism are not in denial and have other reasons for not seeking treatment. Society’s negative perceptions about addiction can make someone with a substance abuse problem feel overwhelmed. The many myths surrounding the topic—especially that addiction is a choice—may be causing your loved one to feel less-than-whole because they have a disease.
They Have Trouble Adjusting to Any Changes in Their Schedule
Many people do not appreciate when their routine is disrupted, but they adapt and accommodate any unforeseen changes. People afflicted by alcoholism, however, may show signs of aggression or distress when presented with a small task. They are set in their ways because addiction is a chronic brain disease that impairs judgment and productivity. Your loved one may be too fixated on their next opportunity to have a glass of wine than any other activity in their day, let alone one they had not anticipated.
They Have a High Alcohol Tolerance
You may notice that your loved one can drink as much as everyone around them, but the alcohol does not affect them as quickly. This means that your friend has enough experience with the substance that they need to consume more to experience the same results as someone without a drinking problem.