Alcohol abuse is a serious and dangerous problem, and it’s not as uncommon as you might think: Alcohol abuse affects 15.1 million adults in the United States alone.* Alcohol abuse can be difficult to identify in oneself and in others, especially if you don’t know the common signs and symptoms. Here are 7 real signs of alcohol abuse, and what you should do when you see them:
Real signs of alcohol abuse
- Blackouts. Blacking out from drinking and/or having memory loss after a night out is one of the more normalized signs of alcohol abuse; but it should still cause concern if you see it, especially if someone you know blacks out often.
- Drinking every day. Drinking every day without a break isn’t just physically hard on your body, it’s a sign of abuse or addiction—especially if it’s combined with one or more of the other signes.
- Drinking impacts everyday life. When drinking interrupts or impacts everyday life, including relationships, school, and work, and impedes you from fulfilling your duties and roles, it’s a sign of alcohol abuse. If a friend finds it difficult to continue to fulfill all of his or her duties at work or prioritizes drinking over friends and family, that should be a red flag.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol. Make sure you and your friends know just how dangerous driving while under the influence really is. Alcohol-related driving fatalities make up almost one-third of total driving fatalities in the United States.* Deciding to still fulfill normal tasks—especially driving—while drunk, even when the driver knows the risks and danger it could cause, is a real sign of alcohol abuse. This is often paired with denial and insistence that alcohol doesn’t have as much of an effect on them as it does, which also leads us to the next point.
- Hiding drinking. If a friend tries to hide their drinking from you and others or denies the effect alcohol has on them while attempting to perform everyday tasks, take note of it. This is a real sign of alcohol abuse, and it’s a sign that they, whether consciously or unconsciously, know that something’s wrong with their alcohol habits.
- Drinking alone. Drinks even when others aren’t around, especially if it’s a consistent behavior.
- Experiencing shaking when not drinking. This is a form of withdrawal, which is a very straightforward physical sign that alcohol abuse is taking place.
What to do when you recognize these signs
First, if you recognize these signs in someone you know, talk with them gently and patiently about it. Recognizing their behavior and understanding the risks and dangers that come with it is a process within itself. Make sure you lend your support through the process and encourage them to seek help, but don’t make the decision for them.
If and when the decision is made to stop drinking, make sure he or she doesn’t do it alone. Overcoming addiction is a long and difficult process, and anyone trying to overcome alcohol abuse needs a lot of help and support, both from professionals and from friends and family. Plus, alcohol withdrawal is physically dangerous and can be deadly without proper treatment, so we recommend that you find a detox clinic and start the journey there, in a safe place with medical professionals to help you through the process.
And when the detox process is over, take advantage of 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous. Although they can be intimidating or embarrassing to go to at first, these programs lend much-needed support and are a great way to learn how to live sober after detox treatment is done.
If you have any questions or want to get started on the path to sobriety, please call us at Center For Healing 888-500-9279.
Erica Franco Mortimer, MA, LPC, LCADC
Founder and CEO
Center for Healing
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.