“No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different from his fellows. Therefore, it is not surprising that our drinking careers have been characterized by countless vain attempts to prove we could drink like other people. That Idea that Somehow, Someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker.”

page 30 The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

For any of us who have loved an alcoholic, or who may fear that we are one, it can be pretty clear by the behavior that is presented while drinking that there is an issue at hand. However, for the concerned parents who aren’t quite sure, or for those of us who think we might just be able to drink more than our friends, there are some signs that can always be watched out for to differentiate a heavy drinker from a full blown alcoholic.

According to the Big Book, a heavy drinker is someone who “may have the habit badly enough to gradually impair him physically and mentally. It may cause him to die a few years before his time. If a sufficiently strong reason… becomes operative, this man can also stop or moderate, although he may find it difficult and troublesome.” Whereas a full blown, real true alcoholic, who can start as a moderate or even heavy drinker, will at some point begin to lose all control of his liquor consumption, once he starts to drink.

1. The Inability to Stop Once We Start

The number one most tell-tale sign of an alcoholic is that they are completely incapable, despite a potential desire for the otherwise, to stop drinking once they have started. If a person goes out with the intention to not drink at all, or even to only have a few drinks, and they end up spending all of their money, blacking out, or getting arrested for public intoxication, they might have an issue on their hands. If a person shows the complete lack of ability to control the amount that they ingest, they might be an alcoholic.

2. Their Drinking Affects their Personal Relationships

If the inability to stop drinking, or control their drinking starts to filter into the home life, it can be a huge red flag. Now not every drinker is going to be the type of drunk that comes home and beats the kids and kicks the dog, but if someone’s drinking affects the bills, or presents itself as an impoundment of the family car, this is obviously a negative effect on personal relationships. Not to mention, for people in romantic relationships, if there are issues of infidelity and mental abuse as the result of drinking, that can seriously hinder a healthy relationship.

3. If the Drinking Becomes an Escape

Sure, the basic idea behind having a drink is to present a feeling of relaxation and release after a stressful week, but when a person starts to drink as a way to completely escape the problems of their life, it can be a sign of alcoholism. There are certain stages that go along with the development of an alcoholic, as it usually begins as a social aid in the beginning at parties and on the weekends, but as a person progresses, alcohol will become the only method a person knows to feel okay. They will drink to numb the pain rather than to enjoy a Friday night out with their friends.

4. The Presence of Withdrawal

Excessive alcohol consumption wreaks havoc on the brain and on the body. It is a depressant, so it can severely hinder the respiratory tract and nerve functioning. It will present itself as withdrawals in the mornings usually as the shakes, migraines, nausea, and anxiety. It will start to develop into insomnia, circulatory issues, and inflammation in the face. Long time drinkers will often have red cheeks and noses from broken capillaries in the face.

alcoholic man

5. The Day is Planned Around Alcohol

A lot of people who suffer from alcoholism understand that they will need to have a drink at a certain time of the day in order to avoid those withdrawals. If someone plans their weekend activities around what time they are going to start drinking, and this happens every single weekend, it could be a problem. For the stay at home mom, they may know that they can start drinking as soon as the kids get on the bus. For the business man or woman, they will patiently await the start of happy hour. It can be different for every person – but the idea is the same. If daily activities are scheduled around the closing and opening hours of the liquor store, if it consumes the person’s mind until they have that drink after work, there is probably an issue at hand.

6. When the Alcohol Starts to Hide Around the House

If you are noticing that you or your loved one constantly has liquor hidden around the home, car, or office in case of emergency, it could show signs of alcoholism. Usually, alcohol is needed to be on hand to ward off the threat of withdrawal or the shakes. A normal drinker can always have a liquor cabinet in the home or at work, but an alcoholic will need to have a pint or a flask near the bed, behind the couch, under the desk, etc etc.

7. Is the Drinking a Secret?

Now, everyone is different on this, some people  – commonly mothers with children, will feel the need to keep their drinking a secret. Sure, people might see them drink on holidays and on the weekend, but the full extent of their drinking will be performed behind closed doors. Externally, most people probably won’t even know that the person has a problem, and the drinker will have to work very hard to keep that facade alive.

8. If Blackouts are a Common Occurrence

What often comes with the inability to control the amount someone drinks, comes the occurrence of blackouts. For people who drink often and excessively, blackouts are described as a period of unconsciousness that is caused by excessive alcohol intake. This is usually when a person wakes up the next morning after a night of drinking with absolutely no recollection of the events of the night. If this seems to happen more often than not, the person definitely has an issue with drinking.

9. Drinking Around the Clock

When it gets to the point that someone drinks out of necessity rather than enjoyment, there is a huge warning flag. When drinking occurs in order to curb withdraw, a person will often present many of the previous factors, such as hiding booze around the house and planning the day around alcohol. As the body becomes increasingly tolerant to the effects produced by alcohol, the drinker becomes dependent on more and more quantities to regulate and produce the feeling of normalcy.

10. The Inability to Quit

One of the most frustrating aspects of alcoholism is knowing that we have a problem but being unable to stop on our own. This a surefire sign that someone is struggling. Despite the overwhelming desire to stop, it is likely impossible for a real alcoholic to quit. Despite the pleas from their family, friends, and the job, a real alcoholic will not be able to quit for good on their own will power.

Seeking Treatment for Alcoholism and Addiction

Getting clean and sober from drugs and alcohol is the most important thing that an addict or alcoholic can do in their life. At Pinnacle Recovery, we understand this and we are here to help you through the anxiety that going to a treatment center for alcohol can bring. With help from our professionals, you can find a new life in sobriety with the least amount of resistance possible, and you can learn what it means to achieve a sustained and happy recovery. So call us today at 1-866-301-0573 and begin your journey to recovery the right way, with Pinnacle Recovery.