There is a fine line between social drinking and alcohol addiction or dependency, and it can be hard to tell where your loved one falls on the scale. Alcoholism can wear many masks, making it a challenge for family and friends to identify when a loved one is in trouble because of their addiction.
If you are worried about a loved one, then there are a few signs that might indicate that the person has a problem that needs to be addressed.
Alcohol Dependency vs. Alcohol Addiction
A dependence on alcohol usually refers to the physical addiction that occurs, which means that the person experiences withdrawal symptoms upon their abstaining from drinking. At the cessation of alcohol use, an alcoholic’s withdrawal symptoms could include anxiety, shaking, moodiness, delirium, or even seizures.
On the other hand, alcohol addiction can also manifest itself in emotional or psychological cravings for a drink. The addict has a hard time imposing limits when drinking, even if negative consequences result from the behaviour. A variety of problems can result from the drinking, with consequences pertaining to a person’s family, health, education, career, and more.
Most times, however, alcohol addiction combines both physical and psychological cravings for alcohol. So, it is important that a holistic approach is used to help the person overcome the addiction.
How to Know if Your Loved One Has a Drinking Problem
- Difficulty Stopping After a Drink or Two: It is common for people to enjoy a drink in a social setting. But, do you notice that your loved one has a hard time stopping after a drink or two? If the person’s choices often lead to heavy drinking in social settings, then there is a chance that they need support to overcome the addiction.
- High Alcohol Tolerance: Pay attention to the frequency that the person drinks, as well as the length of time and the amount that is consumed. Over time, it is common for people to build up a tolerance to alcohol. Someone might have a “functional tolerance” which means that they can drink an excessive amount of alcohol and it doesn’t seem to affect their activities. But, eventually, this tolerance leads to issues in the future.
- Hiding Alcohol from Others: Secrecy is often a sign of addiction. Whether the person feels ashamed of their choices or there is a need to hide the amount that is being consumed, being secretive about drinking habits is a sign of addiction. Don’t assume that you can measure consumption based on drinks that are consumed in public. Often, there are bottles under the bed, in the desk drawer, or hiding behind the old clothes in the closet.
- Mood Swings Linked to Alcohol Consumption: Alcohol is a depressant, which means that it can have an impact on a person’s mood. Some people are more irritable or angry when they are under the influence of alcohol, while other people experience mood swings when the alcohol starts to wear off.
- Chronic Health Problems: When alcohol intake is high, it can take a toll on the body. The liver has a hard time processing the substances, which can have a domino effect on overall health and wellness. If the person is battling chronic health issues, such as diabetes or liver failure, or they are always sick with a head cold, they could be struggling with a drinking problem.
- Behavioural Issues at School or Work: These behavioural problems could appear in a range of problems, such as poor attendance, frequent tardiness, or acting out in the office or classroom. When these behaviour issues are paired with other signs of a drinking problem, then it might be time to seek professional assistance for alcohol rehabilitation.
- Inability to Stop, Despite Severe Consequences: If the person can’t avoid the bottle, even when the consequences are severe, it means that there is a problem that needs to be addressed. There is often a cycle where the drinking builds over time until it culminates in disaster. Eventually, the addict becomes remorseful and promises to stop. They might even have success for a few days or a week before slipping back into the addictive behaviour again.
If you suspect that a loved one has a drinking problem, don’t overlook the importance of finding help for the person. Professional treatment can make a big difference to help the person live a sober life.