Over 15 million adults ages 18 and older in the United States have an Alcohol Use Disorder, the medical term for alcoholism and extreme problem drinking. With 6% of America’s population struggling with alcohol abuse and showing signs of alcoholism, it is likely that you know at least one person who has a drinking problem.
You may have noticed it in a friend who seems to get out of control every time your group goes out to a bar or club on the weekend. Perhaps there is a member of your family who seems to always have a beer in their hand when you go over. Despite the normalization of heavy drinking in today’s culture, with over 25% of adults reporting binge drinking at least once in the past month, there is a difference between a hard night out and the signs of alcoholism.
How do you know when a friend has crossed from a hard couple nights out into problem drinking, Alcohol Use Disorder, or alcoholism territory? Although sometimes individuals are functioning alcoholics, capable of managing their day to day life while still heavily intoxicated, there are usually some obvious indications of problem drinking. Look for these 4 signs of alcoholism or problem drinking next time you’re around that friend or family member.
They drink more than they originally intended to.
You can see the signs of alcoholism and problem drinking when a friend or family member sets out to have a nice, casual time drinking, insisting they’ll “only have a few.” Before you know it, they are six drinks deep within an hour. Depending on their reaction and tolerance to alcohol, they may or may not show signs of how inebriated they actually are. Many times functioning alcoholics are capable of handling themselves in a completely normal-seeming manner, leaving those around them unaware of how much they have actually consumed.
Keep an eye on the amount of drinks they have; any more than 4 drinks for women or 5 drinks for men on a single occasion is defined as binge drinking by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
They consistently drink and drive or have multiple DUI charges.
There are many Americans who will be pulled over for and charged with a DUI after a night out, thinking they were more capable than they actually were. However, for an individual with a drinking problem or alcoholism, they consistently take risks that put themselves and others in harm’s way. Heavy alcohol consumption produces a feeling of invincibility and decreases the capability to make rational decisions, causing individuals with an Alcohol Use Disorder to drink and drive more often than their regular counterparts.
Repeat DUI charges are also a sign of alcoholism or a drinking problem. After being charged with a single DUI, most people would never repeat the mistake and instead make arrangements after a night out on the town. However, an individual with an Alcohol Use Disorder will usually not learn from the mistake, instead continuing to drive. Especially for those who are functioning alcoholics, they continue to attend work or school while drunk, usually driving to and from their daily activities while under the influence.
They continue to drink despite the negative impact it has on their life.
You can see the signs of alcoholism or a drinking problem in those who continue to drink, even after the negative consequences that occur which are related directly to their drinking. Most often, those with alcoholism or a drinking problem will not see that it is the alcohol causing all of the consequences and negatively impacting their life. Instead, they will change a multitude of factors they believe are causing the issue, all while continuing to drink.
Those who struggle with problem drinking or alcoholism will continue to drink despite job losses, breakoffs of engagements, divorce, loss of custody of their children, failing out of school, public humiliation, and more. Alcohol helps them to cope with all of the bad things happening in their lives and they often do not realize that it’s the alcohol causing the problems.
They experience withdrawal symptoms.
This sign of alcoholism may be more difficult to notice as alcoholics are quick to curb their withdrawal symptoms with another drink. However, the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol dependence include:
- Body tremors
Keep an eye out for some of these signs in the person you are concerned about. Depending on the severity of their alcohol dependence, withdrawal symptoms can begin in as little as two hours after their last drink.
What to Do For Someone Who Shows Signs of Alcoholism
If you have a friend or a loved one exhibiting signs of alcoholism or problem drinking, the most important thing you can do is let them know they can share with you. Educate yourself on the various types of treatment available for alcoholics and those with drinking problems. If they need help and they feel comfortable coming to you, you can help to guide them in the right direction if they don’t know where to go.
Depending on the severity of their alcoholism, they may need detox, inpatient rehab, or just an intensive outpatient program. There is treatment available for every alcoholic that can help them get sober. Educating yourself and being there when they are ready for help could be just the thing they need assist them in getting sober.