Many people with a dependence on alcohol work hard to cover up their addiction. They may be in denial about their addiction or are afraid to admit they have a problem.
The signs of alcohol addiction aren’t always obvious. People don’t necessarily exhibit the tell-tale signs of addiction you may see in the movies or on TV.
In real life, the signs of alcohol addiction can be subtle. A high-functioning alcoholic can fool their friends, family, and even themselves.
If you’re concerned that you think you may have a substance abuse problem, take an honest look at your actions and behavior.
Here are some subtle signs of alcohol addiction.
1. Blacking Out After Drinking
Do you have trouble sticking with one or two drinks at a wedding, concert, or night out with friends? If you’re drinking to excess, the result is often a blackout.
You may have the best of intentions and promise to limit your drinking. But when the drinks start flowing, you struggle to control yourself.
Drinking until you black out isn’t normal. It’s dangerous to your health.
If you’re having issues with drinking too much and blacking out, seek help now before the problem only gets worse.
2. Using Alcohol as a Crutch
It’s not unusual to unwind with a drink after work from time to time. But if you’re unable to cope or relax without a drink, there’s a problem.
You may find yourself turning to alcohol to deal with everything stressful or difficult in your life. It can quickly become your primary coping mechanism.
Using alcohol as an emotional crutch is never a good idea. Doing this on a regular basis is a sign of alcohol dependence.
3. Increased Alcohol Tolerance
It may begin with a few drinks now and then. You may go from having a few drinks out with friends to having a drink every day to unwind.
Over time, you may find yourself drinking more and not achieving a buzz quite as easily as before. You may start drinking alone or going to the liquor store more often.
As your tolerance increases, so does your physical need for alcohol. This is a dangerous pattern for your mental and physical health.
If your drinking is out of control, there is hope and help available for you.
4. Becoming Defensive About Your Drinking
As you drink more, people will begin to notice. Friends and family may begin to question you about your drinking.
Many people with an active addiction will dismiss these questions or lie about their drinking habits. It’s difficult to admit you have a problem when you haven’t acknowledged your addiction on your own.
You can learn about alcoholic denial here. If you find yourself becoming angry or defensive about your drinking habits, it’s time to take a good look at what’s really happening in your life and seek.
5. Surrounding Yourself With “Friends” Who Drink
Have you lost friends due to your drinking? If so, you may find yourself spending time with party friends who encourage you to drink.
If you’re in alcohol denial, you don’t want to hear your loved ones expressing concerns about your drinking. Instead, it’s common for alcoholics to turn to toxic friends who will turn a blind eye to your destructive behaviors.
6. Rationalizing Your Drinking Habits
Most people don’t drink first thing in the morning. An alcoholic looks for any excuse to drink and may drink first in the morning and throughout the day.
Drinking at odd hours or at work is another sign of alcohol addiction. Rather than drinking at social occasions or celebrations, you may find yourself actively thinking of ways to sneak drinking in at odd or inappropriate times throughout the day.
An alcoholic is always thinking about the next drink and planning their life around it.
7. Skipping Meals and Drinking Instead
Skipping meals and choosing to drink instead is a classic sign of active addiction. It’s a concerning sign that your priorities are not where they should be.
Skipping meals and drinking alcohol robs your body of essential nutrients and is dangerous to your health. This can lead to disordered eating, which can also be a sign of alcohol addiction.
This behavior is common for individuals with substance abuse problems. It can lead to malnutrition, anemia, and a host of other health issues.
8. Frequent Stomach Pain or Diarrhea
You may know that alcohol wreaks havoc on the liver and kidneys. Did you know that it also affects your digestive system?
Chronic alcohol abuse damages the intestine and prevents them from functioning correctly. This results in a body that’s lacking the essential vitamin and nutrients needed for good health.
The consequences of drinking and a disrupted digestive system include stomach aches, bloating, gassiness, diarrhea, and other symptoms of GI distress.
9. Needing Alcohol to Complete a Task
Claiming you need to drink to perform a task or activity is a red flag for alcohol addiction. This behavior is common for individuals with high-functioning alcoholism.
Alcoholics have a tendency to equate their drinking with their ability to perform well. This is a sign that alcohol has become an essential part of their day-to-day life.
The hard truth is that the individual has progressed to the point where they need alcohol to function at all. If you’re struggling with alcohol, you have options. Reach out for help as soon as possible.
Knowing the Subtle Signs of Alcohol Addiction
If you think you may need help with alcohol addiction, you aren’t alone. Millions of people struggle with addiction every day.
It’s important to know the signs of alcohol addiction to determine if you or a loved one needs addiction treatment. The good news is that many people also conquer their addictions and go on to lead happier, healthier lives.
You can, too.
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