Most people don't know when they've developed a physical and emotional dependence on a substance. Many ask, “Can you have a drinking problem and not be an alcoholic?”
The answer is yes, and only help in the early stages can stop it from getting worse. Intervention by friends and family should happen as soon as possible, but to do that, everyone needs to know what to look for.
Basic Signs Of Alcohol Abuse
These signs of habitual drinking may indicate a growing alcohol problem:
Defensive Response to Comments
Family and friends are the first to notice the changes that alcohol causes in a person. Don't ignore this input from other people, and pay particular attention to the individual's response.
An individual who may develop alcoholic addiction down the road will often react to these types of comments with irritation and anger.
If a person makes comments about needing a drink or that a drink would really hit the spot, this person may be showing signs of problematic drinking.
If such a craving exists, the individual is showing one of the first signs of addiction: a chemical alteration to the brain created by alcohol that the brain now demands to continue functioning consistently.
Continued run-ins with the police or other legal violations that stem from alcohol abuse warn of pending problems. If the individual can't stop getting into this kind of trouble, it's indicative of an addiction taking hold.
Issues in Relationships
A person who begins having issues in their relationships with family, friends, and coworkers – as a result of their alcohol consumption – has taken the first step toward addiction. Soon, he or she will have the same problems interacting with anyone, including complete strangers.
If a person can't find the desired alcohol, they may turn to other options to fill a craving. The person may become desperate to find a fix. This has the potential to lead to multiple substance abuse problems.
After growing accustomed to the presence of alcohol in the system, people can experience mood swings when that substance is gone. This can include becoming angry or irritated with everything and everyone they encounter.
Promise to Quit
If people who enjoy too much alcohol in their life begin making promises not to consume any for an event, this serves as a warning sign. They are aware that they consume too much to realize avoiding it in certain circumstances is a good thing. People often make such promises around important events, such as a wedding, a work event or before driving somewhere.
If an individual is told by their doctor, or some other medical professional, that they are exhibiting signs of an alcohol problem, and then they argue with the medical professional or ignore them, a problem exists or has already begun.
If a person wakes up and has no recollection of what happened or how he or she got there, it is likely the result of some form of substance abuse, such as alcohol. Alcohol consumption at this level indicates the problem has moved closer to full addiction.
Expenditures on Alcohol
People developing a dependence on alcohol will begin spending more and more money on alcohol. This may progress to detrimental spending levels that leave the person in financial trouble. This, in turn, reinforces the perceived need for a drink to escape the problems or one’s low self-esteem.
Inability to Focus
If an individual successfully chooses to abstain from alcohol for a day or a week and he or she begins complaining of difficulties in focusing or completing tasks, this person is exhibiting signs of dependence. Withdrawal symptoms will further exacerbate these issues.
Additional Problem Drinking Signs
Other indicators can be warning signs of a person's path toward alcohol addiction. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
1) Hangover with Shakiness or Trembling
No one enjoys a hangover, and such an event is not indicative of a developing addiction, in and of itself. However, the severity and resulting effects can indicate a blossoming problem.
If the hangover keeps a person confined to bed for long periods of time or causes the person begins to feel shaky or starts to tremble, this is another warning sign that shows how easy it is for a person to cross the line from a simple hangover to serious consequences from overindulging.
If these types of hangovers become more frequent, the person affected is likely heading toward addiction.
2) Alcohol Use for Moderation of Stress
Most people know when they need to take a specific type of painkiller based on the type of pain they are experiencing, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen for reducing inflammation or muscle soreness.
If the body sends the signal that alcohol is the remedy to reduce the stress or anxiety, the person has likely created a dependence on the substance, altering the body's chemical make-up.
3) Alcohol Inventorying
If a person can list precisely how much alcohol is left in his or her possession, a problem generally exists. Worse still, if the person includes plans for how to replace their consumed alcohol, it's a signal that the person has grown so dependent on the substance that they've altered their lifestyle to accommodate their habit.
What You Can Do When You See Signs of Alcoholism
Alcohol abuse, dependence, and addiction happens slowly, but it does progress. The person experiencing the progression often not see it happening even if the changes are steadily worsening.
Be aware of your friend or loved one's habit and monitor it for signs of a more serious problem developing in the future. Contact Addiction Treatment Services today for more information about intervention and treatment for alcoholism.