Like the dependence and abuse issues seen with other substances, alcoholism is both a chronic and progressive disease in which an individual exhibits an inability to control their drinking and has a preoccupation with the use of alcohol. Additionally, the alcoholic will experience adverse consequences with their personal health, psychological and interpersonal functioning, problems and/or loss of employment and other personal physical, mental and spiritual problems. Despite the multitude and potential severity of these consequences, the alcoholic will continue their alcohol use. Because alcoholism is both a chronic and progressive disease, it may take a considerable period of time for a person to know if they are an alcoholic. The following outlines the behaviors seen with alcoholism as well as the signs that people can look for if they or a loved one is a heavy drinker or an alcoholic.
Behaviors of a Heavy Drinker of Alcoholic
It is important to understand the differences between social drinking and those behaviors associated with heavy drinking and alcoholism. Social drinkers typically is able to drink slowly and spaces out their drinks accordingly through the evening or drinking episode. Social drinkers will not risk driving if they may have had too much to drink and understand the consequences and ramifications of abusive alcohol use. Social drinkers will eat before or while drinking and they respect the non-drinker. In comparison, the behaviors that are associated with heavy drinking or those who are alcoholic may include drinking in order to get drunk, drinking to escape the stresses of family life and work, or may drink to excess in situations they shouldn’t be abusing alcohol such as work, when they are behind the wheel or under the effects of medication. Some other behaviors that may point to a person being an alcoholic may also include wild swings in mood or behavior while under the influence and the incidence and frequency of “blackouts” which are periods of memory loss while drinking.
Signs that a Person May Be an Alcoholic
If you think you may be an alcoholic, or if you suspect that a close friend or loved one may be an alcoholic, there are some telltale signs to look for. Some of these signs may include the following:
- There are realizations that you, a close friend or a loved one should cut down on the amount of drinking that is taking place.
- Family, friends and co-workers are showing annoyance towards your behavior while drinking or likewise you are annoyed with the behaviors of a friend or loved one when they are drinking.
- There are feelings of guilt or remorse regarding one’s drinking.
- You, a friend or a loved one is drinking first thing in the morning in order to steady the nerves or to combat a hangover.
According to the NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism), one “YES” answer to the questions that are listed above may indicate that you are an alcoholic. Likewise, if these questions are posed to a friend or your loved one and they answer “YES” to one of these questions, it may indicate they have alcohol abuse issues and/or alcoholism. It is important to note that people who are not alcohol dependent or alcoholic may still meet the above criteria, but may be able to curtail their alcohol use if the consequences become severe enough to warrant those changes. If you or a loved one might be an alcoholic find out what alcohol rehab treatment options are out there.