Substance abuse can come in all shapes and sizes, and not all stereotypes fit each particular addiction situation. Since alcohol is an easy vice to obtain, many people don’t see it as a danger. It can often be hard to see the line between having a few drinks with friends to a reliance on alcohol in order to function in life. Signs of alcohol abuse include binge drinking, withdrawal symptoms, mood changes, physical or health-related changes, guilt associated with drinking, and so on. So how do you know if you’re abusing alcohol? Here we’ll offer various red flags of alcohol abuse and how you can recognize them in your own behavior.

A sure sign of potential alcohol abuse is when an individual purposely avoids being near family or friends when drinking. There is often a shame associated with alcoholism, and individuals with an addiction often don’t want to deal with that emotion or have people judge them for their choices. Drinking in secret is a way for people to hide their actions and usually do so because they know it’s not healthy or a good habit.

Additionally, if you turn to alcohol when you’re upset, disappointed, stressed, angry, or lonely, you may have a problem with alcohol abuse. Using a substance to numb or rid yourself of certain emotions is a dangerous habit, and can be a warning sign of a serious problem.

When someone has an addiction to alcohol, they place this need above everything else in their life. If you go out with friends and family, ask yourself: Are you able to have just one drink? Knowing whether or not you can maintain control of yourself is a big deal when it comes to addiction. Once you start drinking, if it’s difficult or near impossible to stop, then this is a serious red flag that help is needed.

Many people who suffer from alcoholism have little to no control over their urges because it has completely taken over their life. One way to test yourself is to try controlled drinking. Are you able to set an amount for yourself and stick to it with little or no problem? If thoughts begin to consume you about having another drink or going over your personally set limit, you may be suffering from an addiction.

As with any substance addiction, there can be serious risks to an individual’s health and life. If you find yourself blacking out or not being able to recall anything from the previous evening, this is a serious problem. Additionally, if your family members have become concerned about your drinking, this is another red flag. While you may not notice small changes in your behavior, others might, and this should not be ignored.

Serious consequences of your drinking include DUI charges, problems at work/school, financial hardships, or the inability to maintain relationships. A DUI will add a legal problem on top of your alcohol problem, and financial hardships may arise because the habit is not cheap and obligations are not being tended to properly. All of this can lead to turmoil in relationships between family members and loved ones.

Addiction is a terrible disease that touches people from all walks of life. It doesn’t care who you are or how you grew up. If you’re starting to see these certain behaviors in your life, it’s never too early or late to ask for help. Take a realistic look at how alcohol is affecting your life, and consider going to treatment for alcohol abuse.

Erica Franco Mortimer, MA, LPC, LCADC
Founder and CEO
Center for Healing
Evan Berk Erica is a licensed therapist with over twenty-years experience in mental health. Erica offers practical and straight forward advice to those struggling with addiction and their families. Having deep insight and understanding of addiction, Erica is able to offer guidance to those looking to regain control of their lives.

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