How to Identify an Alcoholic
Alcoholism is a progressive disease that is both chronic and fatal. Alcoholism is characterized by an obsession to drink alcohol despite the negative medical or social effects.
An alcoholic develops a progressive addiction to alcohol and may have both physical withdrawal symptoms and/or psychological/mental symptoms such as irritability. Alcohol consumes every aspect of their life—both at home and at work. The alcoholic has developed a dependency on alcohol similar to the dependence we have on breathing air. They will probably dismiss your concerns and say that they do not have a problem. They live in denial of their problem and despite blackouts or memory losses, they may pretend that everything is okay. In reality they become so fearful of these episodes that they may drink more to forget what they forgot. While there is no single way to identify an alcoholic, there are many signs you can look for to assist in your identification.
Alcoholic Signs to Watch
An increased tolerance to alcohol is one of the first signs that a person is an alcoholic. If the individual requires the consumption of more and more alcohol to become intoxicated, they may be an alcoholic.
If the individual drinks on their own, minus social settings or gatherings or if they drink right before a social event in order to “relax;” if the person drinks to forget about a specific problem or because they have had a “bad day,” they may be an alcoholic.
In the later, more developed stages of alcoholism, the alcoholic will begin to hide their alcohol, especially if they have been confronted about their drinking before. The alcoholic may begin to gulp their drinks rather than sip in order to “get drunk” quicker and they may be the person amongst your social group who outlasts you all, drinking longer and more amounts of alcohol than you or any of your friends.
The easiest step to identifying alcoholism is the denial. If the individual denies having a problem with alcohol, or becomes agitated and easily offended when the topic is discussed, they may be an alcoholic.
Questions to Ask
- Do you find yourself worrying about this person when he/she drinks? Are you worried about the amount of alcohol that he/she consumes?
- Do you have money problems because of someone else’s drinking?
- Do you ever tell lies to cover for someone else’s drinking?
- Do you feel that if he/she cared about you, they would quit drinking for you?
- Do you blame his/her drinking on their friends?
- Have you ever had to cancel/reschedule plans because of the person’s drinking?
- Do you find yourself making threats to the person such as, “if you don’t stop, I will leave you”?
- Do you secretly try to smell their breath to check for traces of alcohol?
- Are you afraid to upset them for fear it will set off a drinking bout?
- Have you ever been hurt or embarrassed by their behavior when they drink?
- Are holidays and gatherings spoiled because of drinking?
- Have you considered calling the police for help for fear of abuse?
- Have you ever found yourself looking for hidden alcohol?
- Have you ever ridden in a car with a person who has been drinking?
- Have you refused social invitations out of fear or anxiety about what this person would do?
- Do you feel like a failure because you cannot control his/her drinking?
- Do you feel angry, confused or depressed most of the time?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it is time for you to seek help. There are many treatment centers that can provide answers and help for you and your loved ones.
Ultimately, no matter how concerned you may be about a loved one, only they can ultimately decide if they are an alcoholic and/or if they want to seek treatment and help. However, even if you can’t make them see that they have a problem, you can choose to help yourself.