Alcoholic Drinking Behaviors That are Hard to Ignore
Obvious Signs of Alcoholic Drinking Behaviors
Alcoholism is a chronic disorder which is marked by compulsive drinking, and those with an alcoholic personality are more likely to fall victim to its influence. Heavy or chronic alcohol use leads to psychological and physical dependence and possibly addiction. The effects of alcohol, when consumed excessively, can bring on irrational behaviors that can cause major issues in a person’s life. If you notice some of the signs of alcoholic drinking behaviors in someone you know or love, it’s possible that they may have an addiction.
When addictive drinking behaviors become obvious, it’s likely that the problem has been there for quite some time. Problem drinkers put a lot of effort into hiding their alcoholism symptoms so it’s not always easy to know right away. At the beginning stages, there are very few symptoms that would indicate a real issue. The obvious drinking behaviors of an alcoholic may not become apparent until the tipping point has occurred.
This tipping point between drinking and full out alcoholism may take years, even decades to materialize to the point where it’s obvious. For example, functional alcoholics can maintain a normal life with no signs at all. Seeing where drinking has crossed the line from social use to a problem often won’t be obvious for quite some time.
There are some drinking behaviors that would indicate alcoholism at an early stage. If you notice your loved one copes with difficulties by drinking, this could be a warning sign. As the disease progresses so do the more obvious signs of problem drinking.
What are Drinking Behaviors?
Drinking behaviors are things people do while under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol changes how the brain functions so people might commit hurtful or illegal acts unintentionally while drunk. These behaviors include:
- Abusive acts including emotional, physical, and verbal abuse.
- They might be neglectful.
- More likely to start fights or physically assault others.
- They may be illogical and say hurtful things with no recollection the next day.
- They may drive drunk or get in a car with a drunk driver.
- There may be irresponsible sexual activity such as unprotected sex or sexual assault.
- They risk their own safety as well as others’ safety.
- They may commit crimes
Alcohol can drastically change one’s behavior and personality. In fact, many crimes are committed while the offender was under the influence. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), the offenders in 37% of rapes and sexual assaults were intoxicated. The reports also show that 15% of robberies, 27% of aggravated assaults and 25% simple assaults involved alcohol use by the offender. Even those who are usually calm and level-headed can become aggressive and violent when intoxicated. Alcohol can drastically change a person.
It’s important to note that some people can get away with being a high-functioning alcoholic. It may be difficult to even notice signs of alcohol abuse among these individuals. They are able to go about their daily lives as if they were sober. Many high-functioning alcoholics are even able to hold important jobs. For example, some may work in law enforcement, while others may work in the medical field.
Alcoholic Risk Factors and Problem Drinking
There are some people that are more susceptible to becoming an alcoholic putting them at greater risk. In conjunction with alcoholism symptoms, professionals may have an easier time determining the disease by these factors.
- If family history includes alcoholism.
- How a person is raised.
- Social environment.
- Emotional health of the person.
- Racial groups are more at risk of alcoholism such as American Indians and Native Alaskans.
- A person with a family history who also associates with heavy drinkers.
- Those who suffer from mental health issues like depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety.
Just because a person exhibits one or more of these risk factors, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will definitely struggle with alcoholism. They can still enjoy alcohol without getting hooked on it if they are able to control their own intake.
Alcohol Tolerance and Behaviors: The First Sign of Alcoholism
The first signs of alcoholism by definition is that you drink more than you once did to get “relaxed” or buzzed. An alcoholic can therefore drink more than other people without getting drunk because they build a tolerance. They will need to drink more and more alcohol in order to feel relaxed or buzzed. In some cases, the amount of alcohol that needs to be consumed will be dangerously close to the amount that can cause alcohol poisoning.
Tolerance is built because the liver produces more enzyme known as alcohol dehydrogenase. The enzyme is responsible for breaking down and metabolizing alcohol. If there’s more enzyme in the body, alcohol levels will take a longer time to accumulate. The effects of alcohol will be less pronounced, and more alcohol is needed to achieve the desired effects.
Alcohol Withdrawal: The Second Warning Sign
Someone who is heavily into the second stages of alcoholism will likely experience withdrawal symptoms. This can include shakes in the morning which is why many alcoholics will drink in the morning. There are many other signs that indicate drinking is quickly spinning out of control but these withdrawal symptoms indicate the person is addicted to the substance already. Withdrawal symptoms appear when the body can no longer function without alcohol. This is usually because the alcohol has changed brain chemistry levels. In particular, it has altered the levels of dopamine and serotonin in the body.
Some common withdrawal symptoms include:
- Anxiety or easily startled
- Uncontrollable shaking
- Inability to sleep
It’s important to keep in mind that the intensity and amount of withdrawal symptoms experienced will differ from person to person. It depends on one’s biological makeup, among many other factors. Some alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be rather deadly. In particular, delirium tremens is the most dangerous symptom of all. Approximately 5% of patients who get hospitalized for alcohol withdrawals will develop delirium tremens. Symptoms of delirium tremens includes seizures, shakes and confusion.
Alcoholics Make Excuses to Drink
One of the earlier systems of alcoholism is making up excuses to drink. An alcoholic will drink when they receive bad news, drowning their sorrows. Alternatively, alcohol is the first thing they turn to when there’s good news. If you find yourself or someone else constantly looking for excuses to drink, it might be a sign of alcoholism.
Problem Drinkers Hiding Alcohol Around the House
If you find bottles of alcohol stored in strange hiding places around the house, this is an indication of alcoholism. An alcoholic wants to ensure they can conceal their drinking problem because they’re ashamed. They also want to be able to access a drink wherever they are in the house without being questioned. At this point, you may want to consider an intervention before alcoholism progresses to bigger behavioral issues. Look for alcohol bottles behind cabinets, under shelves, in closets and other places. Generally speaking, finding the empty bottles will not be a difficult task.
Alcoholics Tend to Reject Events that Don’t Involve Drinking
An alcoholic will usually say yes to an event they know involves drinking. As part of the definition of alcoholism, they like to celebrate with alcohol. If there is an event where drinking isn’t taking place, an alcoholic will usually avoid it altogether. Parties are acceptable while going to a movie will be rejected.
Many alcoholics tend to isolate themselves from family and friends. In fact, it’s not unusual for many alcoholics to disappear for days at a time. They would much rather drink at home by themselves than to hang out with others. Their decision to isolate themselves may make it more difficult for many people to realize that there’s a problem.
Alcoholics Stay Up Late to Drink in Peace
Alcoholic drinking is usually done shamefully. Therefore, many alcoholics will stay awake after everyone else has gone to bed. They can drink on their own without anyone monitoring the amount of alcohol being consumed. They feel more free when no one else is there to judge them.
Drinking Gets Earlier for Alcoholics As Time Goes On
An alcoholic will hide the fact they’re day drinking but you may notice a smell of alcohol on their breath during the day. The definition of an alcoholic is that they are dependent on the substance. They need to drink increasingly more often to prevent alcoholism withdrawal symptoms. This usually means that drinking will start earlier in the day as time goes on.
A Problem Drinker Gets Defensive When the Question of Alcoholism Comes Up
The definition of alcoholism is stigmatic and causes a lot of judgment. Not only that but the addict feels genuine shame for losing control to the substance. When you confront them about their drinking habits, they will likely get overly defensive. The reaction can include verbal or even physical aggression.
This reaction makes it difficult to confront a person with an alcohol addiction. It’s also why interventions are such sensitive subjects. When hosting an intervention, it’s critical that the right language is being used. It’s also important to maintain a peaceful, calm and accepting environment. If the abuser feels judged, they may close down and be unwilling to listen to anything. This negative reaction will make the intervention become a failure.
Pre-Drinking: Alcoholics Tend To Drink Before They Go Out
If you have a friend or loved one who always seems to start drinking before you even go out, this can be an alcoholic symptom. They are able to get a head start on the amount of alcohol they get to consume. They can then attend the party and drink what would seemingly be a normal amount as nobody was witness to the pre-drinking.
Feeling Ashamed about their Drinking Problem
You may notice that the person in your life exhibiting drinking behavior issues will lie about their whereabouts and they may even ask you to cover for them. This is particularly hard for families because they can become enablers.
The Alcoholics Mood Will Change Drastically When They Start Drinking
An alcoholic may be anxious or angry until they have a drink. You will notice a dramatic change in their mood as they relax and cope with life in a more efficient way. This ties in with other behavioral drinking behaviors like using alcohol as an excuse when a negative event occurs.
Blacking Out While Drinking
While anyone can black out while drinking, one of the alcoholic drinking symptoms include a higher probability of blacking out. Studies have been conducted with data showing that the more severe the alcoholism, the greater likelihood that blackouts could occur. This is usually the case after years of heavy drinking where alcoholism was well-established. If you find that your loved one blacks out regularly, they are likely a long-time alcoholic.
In addition to blacking out, many alcoholics will also experience memory problems. They may forget events that happened even when they were sober. This happens because alcohol affects the wiring and receptors in the brain. They prevent memory formation and storage. Depending on the length and severity of the abuse, cognitive impairment may be inevitable. The damage may be irreversible. Those who develop wet brain syndrome will usually have some form of permanent brain damage.
Alcoholism Effects the Ability to be Responsible
An alcoholic may neglect important responsibilities in all aspects of their life because of drinking behaviors. This can include home, work, and school. Examples of this include neglecting children and forgetting to pick them up. Even worse, they may pick them up while under the influence of alcohol. Commitments and responsibilities won’t be met because the person is either drunk or hungover.
An alcoholic will likely drink without considering the consequences because they’re dependent on alcohol. They may drink and drive or operate heavy machinery while intoxicated at work. This can put themselves and others at risk. They may also mix alcohol with prescription medication regardless of warnings on the label. Alcoholics can exhibit risky behavior in order to get their “fix.”
Mixing alcohol with other substances is highly risky. In some cases, it can even lead to alcohol poisoning, or — worse — death. For example, mixing alcohol with stimulants can be dangerous, as it may make a person feel as if they can drink more than they can handle. This increases the risk of an overdose. On the other hand, mixing alcohol with depressants is equally as dangerous. The two substances will magnify each other’s effects.
Financial Debt and Legal Problems
The behaviors of alcoholic drinking will often manifest legal problems as well as financial issues. The mistakes that can occur while someone is constantly under the influence can have serious ramifications. A DUI, disorderly conduct and violent behavior are some of the behaviors alcoholics will participate in that cause legal issues and financial debt. Many alcoholics will continue to head down this downwards spiral.
Cost of Alcoholism vs. Alcohol Addiction Treatment
The cost of alcoholism is rather high. Even a small habit can end up costing an addict tens of thousands of dollars each year. Alcoholics can quickly get an estimate of the amount they spend drinking using this calculator. Those who drink cocktails are going to be spending a lot more money than those who drink a 6-pack of beers throughout the day.
In addition to the cost of alcohol, alcoholism may also be costly to one’s health. Addicts often experience health complications as a result of their addiction. They may end up spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on medical bills. They may also end up losing money from not being able to advance in their career or from having to bail themselves out of various situations.
Alcohol abusers should consider the cost of alcoholism vs. alcohol addiction treatment. Addiction treatment can be costly as well. Medical detox can cost them up to $500 per day. In addition, inpatient rehab facilities can charge up to $32,000 a month, and outpatient programs can cost around $10,000. Still, getting sober will actually be cheaper in the long run. It will also result in better habits and behaviors that are more ideal for the addict’s state of mind and health. Fortunately, most health insurance policies will cover the cost of alcohol or drug rehab. Alcoholics can verify their insurance information with us to get a better understanding of what their insurance covers.
There are also some low-cost or free rehab programs out there. Some of these programs are faith-based and offered by religious institutions, whereas others are funded by federal or state programs.
Drinking Despite Relationship Problems
If you’re in a relationship with someone who is an alcoholic, you will notice that despite all your pleas, they won’t stop. The relationship may be falling apart, and you’ve mentioned you think drinking is part of the problem. This won’t stop them from drinking and in fact, it will likely perpetuate alcohol abuse. They use alcohol as a coping mechanism so if a relationship is in peril, they won’t turn to you, they’ll turn to the bottle.
Being in a relationship with an alcoholic can be tricky. Many family members and loved ones may accidentally enable alcoholic behaviors and actions. Here are ways to stop enabling the person and to prevent them from making destructive decisions in their life. Many family members and loved ones will usually choose to attend Al-Anon meetings themselves. These meetings teach them the skills needed to help an alcoholic get sober. They’re also a great place for sharing personal experiences and venting about the struggles of having to deal with an alcoholic. The experience can be very stressful.
Outcomes of Drinking Behaviors
Even if you ignore the obvious behaviors of an alcoholic you’re close with, eventually their life will unravel. They will often lose everything that’s important to them. The behaviors that are so prevalent in alcoholics usually means they suffer much loss. If you are standing on the outside, you will see it happening.
Some common outcomes from an alcoholics’ behavior include:
- A loss of drivers license or legal problems from DUI offenses.
- Job loss from irresponsible actions.
- Prison time due to violence or illegal actions that occurred while under the influence of alcohol.
- Divorce and potential loss of custody of your children.
- Health problems such as liver disease
It’s not difficult to notice the negative effects of drinking. Despite constantly being dragged down by this habit, alcoholics have difficulties quitting. They are usually well aware of the fact that alcohol is ruining their lives. This is what makes addiction a chronic mental disease. Those who are addicted often have little control over their actions and their thoughts. They may try to fight the addiction, but it’s usually a losing battle.
Signs of an Alcoholic Personality
Those who become alcoholics are generally much more likely to exhibit certain alcoholic personality traits than others. These traits may be shaped and may arise from environmental, psychological or biological sources. They make a person more likely to enjoy alcohol or more likely to be under the influence of alcohol. Some of the most common alcoholic personality traits include:
- Anxiety and fear. Alcoholics tend to either be plagued with worrisome thoughts or fear. To control and regulate their emotions, they turn to alcohol.
- Dependence. Addicts tend to have codependency issues. Those who depend heavily on others may also depend heavily on the bottle when they have no one else to turn to.
- Impulsiveness. When an addict wants something, they want it now. They often have a difficult time controlling their own actions.
- Low self-esteem. It’s not unusual for alcoholics to feel that they are less worthy than others. Many of those who are addicted to alcohol have an inferiority complex.
- Low-tolerance. While most people have a healthy outlet for channeling negative emotions and feelings, an alcoholic will usually have a low-tolerance for any negative emotions. They have difficulties coping with difficult times, and will turn to drinking in the meanwhile.
- Perfectionism. It’s not the desire to be perfect that causes people to turn to alcohol, but the sense of failure. Alcoholics often feel like a failure.
Many alcoholics may have personalities that stem from certain events in their life. As a result, addiction recovery needs to target these flaws in their character. This is why most rehab centers will recommend patients go to either counseling sessions or behavioral therapies, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Their personality also makes them more vulnerable to co-occurring disorders.
While this is not necessarily a personality trait, alcoholics often have low EQ, or emotional intelligence. EQ is made up of 5 components: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. An alcoholic will usually struggle with almost all of these aspects. The emotional traits of an alcoholic include:
- An inability to receive love
- A sense of injustice
- Feelings of frustration
- Feelings of shame and guilt
Many alcoholics tend to be under achievers. They blame everyone around them for their struggles, and are not willing to take responsibility for their own actions. They also have difficulties handling their own emotions. They often get easily frustrated.
The Problem Drinker and Denial
Denial is one of the main defining symptoms of alcoholism. Sadly, it’s also one of the biggest obstacles preventing an alcoholic from getting help. The desire to drink is so strong that the mind finds ways to rationalize drinking, even when the negative outcomes are obvious. These excuses will keep the person in ignorance so they can continue to live with their addiction. It prevents them from having to look at the truth and it is often protected even after they have begun to lose everything. Denial exacerbates alcohol-related problems with work, finances, and relationships.
Alcoholics tend to say certain things that include:
- Understating the amount they drink at all costs.
- When something negative happens because of their drinking, they downplay it.
- They will complain that family and friends are making a big deal out of nothing.
- They may blame their drinking problem on others.
People will give excuses on why they aren’t an alcoholic despite all the obvious signs. They reason with themselves and then make excuses to everyone around them.
If you find that someone in your life is rationalizing their drinking habits, lying about them, or refusing to discuss the subject, it’s likely they’re protecting their alcoholism. Their logic is if you can’t determine alcoholism based on the definitions, there’s no proof of a problem and they can continue to drink. If an alcoholic doesn’t believe they have a problem then why are they covering up their drinking or making excuses for why they drink? There are alcoholic assessments that can be done online for when the person is ready.
It’s not always easy to determine if someone’s drinking tendencies are of an alcoholic drinking nature because it’s such a common pastime. Plenty of people go through phases of drinking without developing the disease. It’s when it hits a chronic level despite consequences that you will notice the abnormal drinking tendencies. Finding the line between social drinking and problem drinking depends on how it affects the persons’ life. If drinking causes problems in the person’s life and they won’t stop, the possibility of alcoholism is high. Especially if they continue to drink and protect their addiction despite the obvious alcoholism symptoms to everyone else around them.
The typical behaviors that alcoholics exhibit become damaging through time. These behaviors include irrational actions like driving under the influence or harming a loved one with physical violence. It’s hard to ignore the downward spiral as alcoholics start to lose everything they once cared about and make drinking their priority. If you want to get help for your friend or loved one, find professionals to help you with an alcohol intervention. There are inpatient and outpatient options once the alcoholic in your life has decided to seek help.
Get Professional Help
Don’t face alcoholism alone. Not only is it incredibly difficult, but the chances of a successful recovery is rather minimal. Alcoholics looking to get sober will find that they absolutely need professional help. Medical detox is a necessity and not an option, considering the fact that alcohol withdrawals can turn deadly at any time. The medical detox should be overseen by professionals for the best results. There are quite a few treatment plans that can help ease the symptoms.
There are many approaches that can be taken with alcohol addiction treatment. Learn more about how we treat addiction here, at The Evergreen at Northpoint. We offer high quality services that are tailored to the needs of each patient. This expedites the recovery process and makes the transition much smoother and hassle-free. We have a low patient to staff ratio, so our patients receive all the care that they need. We also have a fairly high success rate, and a successful and effective alumni program.
If you’re wondering whether we can help you, check out our testimonials. Many patients who have gone through our program have been successful at staying abstinent. They now enjoy healthier and more fulfilling lives, as they are no longer shackled down by addiction. If you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to contact one of our addiction specialists. They’re here to answer any questions you may have, and they can also walk you through the process, so you know what to expect.
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