Signs of Alcoholism – Behavior That Indicates a Problem

Signs of Alcoholism for Diagnosticians

Diagnostic Signs of Alcoholism

Snip from NIAAA brochure. Click to get full .pdf.

Signs Of Alcohol Dependence For The Rest Of Us

Alcoholism is a sneaky disease.  It progresses slowly and it is usually too late before you acknowledge that you show the signs of alcoholism.  You think you’re just abusing alcohol because you are young but, you are really an early stage alcoholic.

The signs of alcoholism vary in difficulty to observe.  An early stage alcoholic may look like someone who just enjoys partying.  A middle stage alcoholic may show some but not all of the signs of alcoholism listed below.  In a late stage alcoholic the signs of alcoholism will be very noticeable to anyone who spends time around them.

Alcoholism is much easier to diagnose after the fact. Once you sober up the signs of alcoholism will be painfully apparent to you.  Once you have quit drinking and you look back, it will seem amazing to you that you didn’t stop much sooner because the signs of alcoholism are just so obvious.

Below the chart is a large list of signs of alcoholism for the layperson. Read through those signs of alcoholism and then see if you can apply any of it to the chart. Please remember that this chart is for qualified diagnosticians.

 Stuff Drunks Worry About?

thinking manHave you ever decided to stop drinking for a week or so, but only lasted for a couple of days?
Do you wish people would mind their own business about your drinking– stop telling you what to do?
Do you ever try to get “extra” drinks at a party because you do not get enough?
Have you ever switched from one kind of drink to another in the hope that this would keep you from getting drunk?
Do you worry you’re an alcoholic?
Have you ever felt that your life would be better if you did not drink?
Do you envy people who can drink without getting into trouble?

Have you had problems connected with drinking during the past year?
Has your drinking caused trouble at home?
Do you need a drink to get started, or to stop shaking?
Do you tell yourself you can stop drinking any time you want to, even though you keep getting drunk when you don’t mean to?
Have you missed days of work or school because of drinking?
Do you have “blackouts”?
Have you had to have an eye-opener upon awakening during the past year?
Do you drink alone? Alone isn’t social drinking.
Do you hide the evidence of your drinking?
Do you seem immune to alcohol? High tolerance.
Plan drinking for weekend because you know you won’t quit when you start?

Signs Other People Observe

Became angry when confronted about drinking.
Makes or finds excuses to drink.
Poorer eating habits.
Violent episodes associated with drinking.
Sadness or crying while drinking.
Failure to care for physical appearance.  Not shaving is usually the first to show.
Drinking secretly.
Not being truthful about amount of alcohol consumed.
Trembling in the morning.
The friends he hangs around with are drinkers. Their activities include alcohol most of the time.
Promises to do things but then does not fulfill that promise.
Pointing fingers at the other, more drunk people.  Using his buddies to take the spotlight off of him.
Other people know him as a heavy drinker.
When you walk into different bars in your area do people know him.

Everything In Different Words

paperworkNo alcohol consumption questionnaire is complete without asking everything in at least 2 or 3 different ways. For one statement the answer may be no, but for another one in the same category it may be yes.  For example, risky behavior is a category. Not drinking and driving doesn’t mean the person doesn’t start fights with people bigger than they are.  That is risky and aggressive behavior.  

One thing this really helps with, is getting people to expand on answers.  Knowing a person has drank enough to vomit is good, but knowing they do this every Friday is more helpful. Sometimes they have done it once, 10 years ago, at their child’s high school graduation.  That is also helpful.

When drunk you show tremendously careless and/or irresponsible practices. i.e. drunk driving, high risk sexual partners
You just can’t acknowledge the serious consequences of your drinking.
You become agitated more often.
You have a propensity to blame others or occurrences in your life for the drinking.
You cannot keep your promises anymore.
Once you begin drinking, you generally aren’t able to quit.
When you go to a doctor you hide the fact that you are drinking way too much.
You keep drinking alcohol up until you are out of alcohol or pass out.
You are spending cash you require for essentials on alcohol.
You realize you are continuously not meeting your obligations.
You view people who “want to help” as a annoyance if not as a straight up threat.
Farther down the road, you end up spending time with folks who drink just as much as you do.
You can occasionally begin experiencing financial troubles, and may have to borrow money (for the first time in some instances).
You get annoyed when someone refers to your drinking.
You ignore the growing proof of your harmful drinking.
In the event you go into rehab, you are going to search for reasons or create excuses to stop therapy.
You keep the people close to you at arms-length (managing to keep a drinking problem secret is tricky especially with those closest to you) although you truly do want the relationship.
You could have difficulties with the law. DUII’s, assaults, public intoxication.
More advanced sufferers of alcoholism are not able to keep a job; or they won’t or can’t find one.
You keep away from social activities. You isolate from close friends.
If you are a scholar/student, you’re likely to be suspended from college or university for consumption of alcohol.
You are generally more easily upset and have more mood swings.
With more developed drinking, modifying your drinking habit gets to be more problematic if not impossible.
You really feel alone with this problem.
Your problem-solving traits don’t seem to work anymore.
You experience more powerful remorse and despair.
You need to create continuing excuses for outrageous or reckless tendencies.
You require more assistance from others than you once did.
Your relationships become increasingly unstable.
You continue to drink alcohol despite the presence of psychological and physical difficulties due to the drinking.
You invest considerable time and effort making sure you have or can get alcohol.
You are verbally and/or physically abusive to family members.
The addict grows a tolerance for alcohol. It requires increasingly more alcohol to feel the same level of intoxication.
The individual has withdrawal symptoms. This means that these individuals feel sick if there’s no alcohol in their body. Some of these symptoms use nausea or vomiting, excessive sweating, shakiness, and anxiety.

Alcoholism does not go away on its own so it is very important for friends and family members that recognize any combination of these signs of alcoholism to encourage the person to seek out therapy. In the long term alcohol dependency can cause cirrhosis and cancer of the liver, heart and central nervous system injury, forgetfulness, male impotence, and has risk of over dosing.

For comment:

Do you have any of the signs of alcoholism. Which ones?
Do these signs of alcoholism seem relevant? Are they missing something important?
Does this post on the signs of alcoholism make you anxious?  What about if your girlfriend/spouse read it?If you do have signs of alcoholism do you intend to take corrective action? Why or why not?

High Functioning Alcoholic