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Alcoholic behavior can cause major problems in someone's life. Constantly seeking alcohol and becoming dependent on it are not healthy behaviors.
Over time, alcoholic behavior can also pose challenges for friends and family. It's important to know the signs of alcoholic behavior before they worsen.
If you or a loved one has an alcohol problem, seek help from your doctor or mental health professional.
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is the proper term for alcoholism or alcohol addiction. It’s a chronic relapsing brain disease that occurs when a person abuses alcohol, or their body becomes dependent on it.
Someone with AUD continues to drink despite the negative effects on their mental or physical health, relationships, or work.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are three traits of alcohol use disorder:
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Recognizing the warning signs of alcoholism can help prevent problems in the long run. Alcoholism’s beginning stages aren’t always obvious, but knowing them can help you spot the problem.
If you suspect someone else is struggling with alcoholism, here are some things to look for:
Alcoholics will continue to increase their alcohol intake over time. As a result, they will develop a high alcohol tolerance that requires them to keep drinking to achieve the same effect. Alcoholics will also have intense cravings for alcohol, resulting in more frequent drinking.
There are also times when alcoholics drink alone. Drinking alone isn’t necessarily a problem. However, alcoholics may engage in this behavior because they can’t function without alcohol’s effects.
People who exhibit alcoholic behavior will care less about their looks or health. They may even stop showering. It’s common for people to lose weight when they’re suffering from alcoholism. This is often because they aren't eating properly.
Alcoholics will also let their work, school, family obligations, and responsibilities fall to the side. They’ll often be drunk, hungover, or having withdrawals during these times. Alcohol will also impair judgment, resulting in reckless behavior.
Addicts lie. Their lies can range from denial to hiding their drinking. There are many reasons why alcoholics lie about their drinking habits:
Physical signs of alcohol abuse can manifest immediately after drinking. The immediate effects of alcohol include slurred speech, slowed reaction times, inability to walk properly, and memory lapses.
When the person is suffering from AUD, physical symptoms can worsen. These symptoms include:
Drinking alcohol is expensive. Alcoholics will spend their money on alcohol even if they’re financially struggling. They don’t have control over their money anymore because of alcohol.
In addition, alcoholics can suffer financial problems because of poor work performance. They may miss work or lose their jobs. Some may even go into debt because of their alcohol addiction.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are a common sign that someone is an alcoholic. If an alcoholic tries to quit drinking, they experience symptoms like nausea or irritability.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms vary depending on different factors. Mild symptoms are similar to a hangover. On the other hand, severe cases of alcohol withdrawal can lead to hallucinations or delirium tremens (DTs).
There are four stages of alcoholism that you should be aware of:
Stage 1 alcoholism is considered the pre-alcoholic phase. These include people who drink to dull pain, forget, destress, escape reality, etc.
While they don’t yet have a full-on addiction, their drinking behavior could quickly spiral into one. Taking the warning signs seriously is important because this is the easiest stage to create change.
Stage 2 alcoholics are those who are:
Their alcohol consumption has become a serious cause for concern.
Stage 3 alcoholics are deemed “middle alcoholics.” They miss work, forget family obligations, and show physical signs of alcohol abuse (weight gain, facial redness, etc.).
They may also be more irritable and show obvious signs of struggle with those close to them.
Stage 4 alcoholics have let drinking come in the way of everything important in their lives. Alcohol has taken a toll on their physical and mental health, affected their personal and professional relationships, and caused severe psychological damage.
This is the most severe stage of alcoholism.
Whatever stage you or someone you know is at, support is available to help you or them take back control. Quitting is possible.
Alcoholic behavior can take a serious toll on all types of relationships. For instance, alcoholics tend to exhibit irritability, creating tension in relationships.
Since many alcoholics lie about their behaviors, distrust in relationships can develop.
Late-stage alcoholics may prioritize drinking over their work and family obligations. As such, it’s obvious how their drinking can affect their partners and other family members.
If your loved one is struggling with alcoholism and hurting your relationship, reach out for help as soon as possible.
Helping an alcoholic can be tough on your own, but many options can help your relationship.
Often, loved ones are responsible for the alcoholic to self-assess and begin to ask themselves, "Am I an Alcoholic?"
In addition to relationship problems, here are some more risks of alcoholic behavior:
Here are some ways you can help an alcoholic with their problem:
The first way to help an alcoholic is to recognize the signs of alcoholism. You should know which changes in their personality, mood, and behavior indicate a problem. Once you know which signs to look out for, you’ll be ready to talk to them.
Setting healthy boundaries is key when helping an alcoholic. It will help avoid any problems in your personal life as well. You can set boundaries by:
An intervention is when a concerned group confronts someone about their unhealthy habits. Here are some tips when staging an intervention for an alcoholic:
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol use disorder, get help. The sooner you start, the easier it’ll be to take back control. Here are a few treatment options available:
Recovering from AUD is difficult. Supporting an alcoholic throughout their recovery can help encourage sobriety. You can support an alcoholic by:
Alcoholic behavior is a serious issue that needs to be addressed immediately. AUD can cause severe damage to relationships, finances, and overall health. If you suspect that someone you love is abusing alcohol, there are several steps you can take to help them recover.
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