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alcoholic man
November 26, 2018

7 Signs of an Alcoholic


There comes a time in every drinkers life where they are faced with the question, “Do I drink too much?” Many people liken alcoholics to only those living under a bridge or have ruined their whole lives due to drinking, but this isn’t always the case. According to the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, there are only two real qualifying factors that define someone as an alcoholic. They are:

  • If you find that when you are not drinking, you are obsessing about when you get to drink
  • When you do drink, you cannot control how much you end up drinking

Overall – each person’s drinking career can look a whole lot different from others’, and losing everything doesn’t have to be the precipitating factor to getting sober.

There are usually some similarities though when it comes to someone who is struggling with alcoholic tendencies or behaviors. Here are some of the top 7 most common signs of an alcoholic.

1. Lying About Their Drinking

Alcoholics tend to have a lot of guilt and shame around their drinking. This actually occurs a lot more with women – as there are certain “expectations” placed on women to be good mothers, matriarchs and members of society. For those alcoholics who are living in this dual reality, they will begin to drink more and more in the comfort of their own home or a private location where they won’t be discovered.

There can also be a lot of deception around how much they drank, for example, if their partner asks how many drinks they had at the bar, they will most likely always respond with less than what they actually had. This is usually a defense mechanism to avoid argument, judgment, and any additional questioning.

2. Drinking Becomes an Obsession

Again, unlike normal drinkers, alcoholics tend to think obsessively about when, where and what type of alcohol they will have all day long. They look forward to it, waiting until they get to relieve their anxieties and troubles with that first drink. This is because alcoholics have what is considered to be an obsession of the mind.

This obsession is what brings an alcoholic back to a relapse every time. The obsession convinces the alcoholic that they will be able to drink normally or only have one, or be home by nine, completely forgetting all of the trouble that happened the last time. This is that first qualification of an alcoholic according to AA.

3. Drinking More than They Intend To

When it comes down to it, all an alcoholic really wants is to be able to drink normally. In order to attempt this, they will perform countless experiments, telling themselves, “I’m only going to have two” or “no hard liquor” or whatever their mechanism of control may be. This experiment usually ends in failure, they go way overboard, and wake up with remorse, regret and frustration that they failed themselves again.

Here’s the thing; a normal drinker probably only has to experience this once to know better than to go overboard again. Normal drinkers will start to feel a buzz and be able to back off. Alcoholics, on the other hand, will push the limit too far, even when they know better.

alcoholic man

4. The Drinking Schedule Becomes Erratic

In the “good days” drinking usually occurs only on the weekends, however, as the disease continues, alcoholics become absolutely reliant on drinking during strange hours and in the mornings to avoid that awful withdrawal. Many alcoholics get to the point of needing a flask or water bottle on hand with them at all times, so they can “take their medicine” when they need it.

5. When Withdraw Starts to Occur

Again, the more a person drinks, the greater tolerance they will develop towards alcohol. This tolerance, when not satiated with a drink, will result in severe withdraw. This is no mere hangover and can actually be deadly.

Severe alcohol withdrawal will have severe physical and mental symptoms such as:

  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Extreme anxiety or depression
  • Agitation, Irritability
  • Increased heart rate
  • Headache, nausea, vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Flu like symptoms
  • Seizures

6. When Real Life Gets in the Way of Drinking

When everything else that was once held dear in your life seems to only get in the way of you drinking how you want, you are probably struggling with alcoholism. Addiction to anything tends to pull people away from their lives, isolating them in a bubble of their own creation, through continually requiring more and more alcohol in order to feel normal, it creates a gap between us and the things we love.

7. When Stopping on Your Own Seems Impossible

This is the kicker. When it comes time for you to try and stop drinking, as you have watched your life begin to fall apart, the only thing you can think of, after trying everything else of course, is to stop drinking. The terrifying part is that you realize you can’t.

All of the other 6 signs show up, and if you discover that if you don’t drink, you can’t make it to work because of the withdraws, and even if you manage to get yourself to a quick weekend detox to sober up, by Tuesday or Wednesday of the next week you find yourself obsessing over having a drink again.

If you have experienced any of these seven warning signs of alcoholic tendencies, it might be time to get raw with yourself. If you have tried to stop and discovered you can’t, it is probably time to get help. If a doctor has told you that you have started to cause some real damage to your internal organs but you still can’t stop, it is time to get help.

Being an alcoholic doesn’t mean you have to live a lonely and pain filled life. There is a solution to your problem. Millions of people have recovered from an alcoholic life through the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, and a large majority of those people have been introduced to this way of life through attending an inpatient treatment facility that allowed them to learn about why they drank, and to be physically separated from any temptation of an alcohol relapse.

Getting Help

If you or a loved one is addicted to drugs or alcohol and if you’ve tried but failed to kick the habit, you may need professional help. Addiction is tough to beat by itself due to the pain of withdrawal and a lack of support, but you can find both at Stout Street’s reputable treatment center. Call us today and begin your journey to sobriety.