In a society where drinking alcohol is common and binge drinking is considered normal, it may be difficult to tell whether or not your loved one is exhibiting signs of alcohol abuse. Below are a few warning signs to help you figure out whether you should be concerned about your loved one’s behavior.
They Binge Drink
Frequent binge drinking is one sign of alcohol abuse. Here is what qualifies as heavy or binge drinking according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism:
- – Binge drinking is defined as consuming 5 or more drinks for males, or 4 or more drinks for females, in about 2 hours.
- – Heavy alcohol use is defined as more than 4 drinks on any day for men or more than 3 drinks for women.
Their Social Life Revolves Around Alcohol
Alcohol is an accepted part of most people’s social lives, which means that someone who is abusing alcohol won’t necessarily need to hide their drinking habits.
You may notice that alcohol has become a larger part of your loved one’s social life – they may be going out for drinks with friends after work more often, they may have begun hanging out only with people who drink, or they may be finding any justification to use alcohol to relieve stress. They may also choose to only go to events where alcohol is served: they’re more than happy to go to a Texas Rangers game where they can order a few beers, but they won’t go to their nephew’s Little League playoffs.
They Never Seem Drunk
As with any substance, someone who is abusing alcohol will develop a tolerance to it over time. Your loved one may brag about their ability to hold their liquor.
While they may not seem drunk, you may notice that your loved one’s personality has changed after a few drinks. A normally quiet and sweet person may become aggressive, or a normally high-strung and stressed person may become a “happy drunk” and mellow out once they’ve begun drinking.
They Cannot Stop Drinking
Even if your loved one decides he or she isn’t going to drink today, it may be impossible for them to resist if they are around people who are drinking. They may also become very irritable if they have to go a significant period of time without a drink.
Your loved one may also exhibit signs of alcohol withdrawal if they have developed a physical addiction to alcohol and try to cut back on their drinking.
They Have Problems with Work and Relationships
One of the classic signs of substance abuse is sudden problems financially, at work, or in their relationships. If your loved one is suddenly having problems at work (tardiness, unexplained absences, decreased productivity), has suddenly changed their group of friends, it may be an indicator of alcohol abuse.
Remember, alcoholism is a progressive disease and isn’t always very obvious in its beginning stages. Even if your loved one doesn’t exactly fit all of the criteria listed above, consider having a conversation with them if you are concerned about their drinking. Intervening before the problem becomes too large can be the difference between life and death.