Alcoholism doesn’t just appear and disappear. It develops over time. It usually involves a preexisting risk factor that makes someone more susceptible to developing it if they drink alcohol.
Risk factors include:
- Prior history of behavioural or substance abuse
- Addiction of alcoholism in the family
- Social awkwardness
- Neglect and/or abuse in childhood
Drinking more than five drinks for a man or seven drinks a week for a woman is defined as abusing alcohol. The abuse itself combined with the risk factors above can leave someone to be more tolerant of larger amounts of alcohol, creating a dependence on it to function normally. It can be difficult to tell whether someone has a drinking problem or if they’re just a social drinker who occasionally goes overboard. But, there are some questions you can ask to determine if someone does or doesn’t have a drinking problem.
Ask if they have ever considered cutting back
When someone begins drinking, they aren’t used to the effects, so they may feel at their “best,” leading to repetitive use to maintain that feeling. Over time, the body becomes immune to the alcohol resulting in the body needing more to feel the same effect.
If you have noticed a loved one is consuming more alcohol than usual, ask if they have considered cutting back. This will call for them to answer with deep-reflection and self-honesty.
Some problem drinkers reactions are:
- They will say yes, which is a step to admitting they have a problem
- They decide to cut back, but find they’re unable to do so
- They will consider in cutting back but aren’t able to
- They will tell you they should slow down or stop drinking
- They will feel uncomfortable with how much they drink
Are they isolating themselves and defensive about their drinking?
As addiction progresses, people’s true selves start to fade away along with their interests, hobbies and daily activities. If substance use consumes their thoughts throughout the day, and they increase the amount of time, effort and resources to acquire alcohol, they may be an alcoholic.
If you’ve ever told the suspected problem drinker that they’re drinking too much and they got upset, it’s a telltale sign they have a problem.
Trust your Instincts
You know your loved ones best. If you suspect they are using drugs or alcohol, confront them with your concerns. Focus on talking about: a change in their behaviour, hobbies, and overall health. Do this in a respectful, caring, and calm way. It likely will be an uncomfortable conversation, but it could be the best intervention.
Problem drinkers get defensive because:
- They’re not ready to admit they have a problem
- They’re scared to admit it because they don’t want to give it up
You can’t rely on their reactions if:
- They are drunk because they’re unable to control themselves
- If you angrily accuse them of having a problem
Approach the question calmly for the most accurate reaction.
They Feel Guilty about Drinking
The suspected alcoholic may have negative feelings about their drinking. However, it’s hard to know if a drinker feels guilty or remorse after their drinking if they don’t tell you directly.
They will show remorse and regret by:
- Expressing guilt to themselves
- Apologizing every time they drink
- Breaking promises to stop drinking
Many alcoholics truly want to stop but are unable to keep their promises causing them to feel even more guilty.
Each day, people try to quit drinking with different plans, usually with self-help groups, but that’s not nearly enough for some. These groups lack the intensity required to properly address and treat an individual’s needs.
At Aurora Recovery Centre, we take a holistic approach that treats each of our members’ specific needs and conditions. We address the mental, physical, and spiritual issues they need to overcome through our residential and outpatient programs. These options provide a safe, structured, medical, and therapeutic approach.