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Updated on August 21, 2023
7 min read

How to Tell if Someone Has Been Drinking Too Much

Vince Ayaga
Dr P. E. Pancoast, MD
Written by 
11 Sources Cited
Vince Ayaga
Written by 
11 Sources Cited

How Much Alcohol is Too Much?

According to the CDC, having 15 or more drinks per week is considered heavy alcohol use for men. For women, it’s eight or more drinks per week.

Binge drinking is when blood alcohol concentration (BAC) rises to 0.08% or more quickly. In general, having four or more drinks in two hours indicates excessive drinking.


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15 Signs You’re Drinking Too Much

Drinking too much alcohol over time may alter how the brain handles pleasure, judgment, and self-control.5 It can even significantly affect your body and general health. 

If you think you’ve been drinking too much, here are a few signs you should look out for:

1. Alcohol Intoxication

Intoxication is the most obvious sign that you’ve been drinking too much. Alcohol intoxication happens when you have a high BAC.1

The higher the BAC, the more you'll notice signs of impairment. These include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Memory problems
  • Poor coordination
  • Personality changes
  • Sense of confusion
  • Glassy or bloodshot eyes
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Passing out

If you often get sick after drinking, you might drink more than you can handle.

2. People Close to You are Concerned

Other people will be able to notice if you’re drinking too much. You might have a problem if the following people have expressed concern about your drinking:

  • Family members
  • Spouse or partner
  • Close relatives
  • Friends
  • Coworkers

3. Morning Hangovers 

People who drink moderately (one to two drinks daily) are less likely to experience hangovers. If you have frequent morning hangovers, you are drinking too much.

Although the signs vary from person to person, common symptoms of alcohol hangovers include:2

  • Fatigue
  • Thirst
  • Muscle aches
  • Stomach pain
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Vertigo (feeling off-balance)
  • Sensitivity to light 
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Irritability
  • Sweating
  • Headache due to dehydration
  • High blood pressure

4. Denial

Someone who drinks too much alcohol may tend to defend their drinking behavior. If you get irritated or frustrated when someone confronts you about your drinking, you should consider lessening your alcohol intake.

If you or someone you know can’t acknowledge a drinking problem, it might be a sign of one. Consider getting professional help and guidance from a healthcare professional.

5. Drinking alone

Drinking alone may indicate a problem. It can be concerning if you go out of your way to drink alone or even hide your drinking habits. 

You might also be using alcohol to cope with depression or another mental illness. Although drinking alone doesn’t always translate to excessive drinking, it’s a recipe for one.

6. You Have a Hidden Personal Stash

Most drug users and alcoholics hide their addictions away to use them secretly throughout the day. If you’re hiding a personal stash from others, you might have a drinking problem.

7. Fatigue and Weakened Immune System

Alcohol can affect mental health and focus. It can also weaken your immune system.

You might drink too much if you’re:10

  • Getting groggy or sluggish
  • Easily irritated
  • Getting sick often

8. Increased Alcohol Tolerance

Alcohol misuse leads to tolerance. You may have developed a tolerance to alcohol if you drink more than the usual amount to get the desired effect.

You might notice you’re drinking faster or need to drink more to get drunk. Although drinking more than usual may not directly signify alcoholism, it can be a start.

9. Severe Withdrawal

It's normal to have mild withdrawal symptoms such as a slight headache, nausea, or thirst. However, if you’re experiencing prolonged or severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms, it means you've been drinking too much.

Severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Tremors or body shakes
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid abnormal breathing
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

10. Temporary Memory Loss

Those who drink too much regularly often experience temporary blackouts or memory loss.3 Even worse, permanent memory loss or dementia may occur.

If you drink too much alcohol, you may have trouble remembering things. For example, you may find it hard to recall things like:

  • Meeting new people
  • What you ate recently
  • What time you went to bed

11. You’re Overlooking the Negative Consequences

If you’re drinking despite the negative consequences, you might have a drinking problem. This is especially true if you’re already diagnosed with an alcohol-related health condition. 

People who drink too much may also overlook social and legal consequences. You might be drinking too much if you’re overlooking: 

  • Organ damage (liver, kidney, heart)
  • Brain damage
  • Long-term mental health problems
  • Unsafe sex practices
  • Legal troubles (robbery, property damage, driving under the influence)

Continued drinking after organ damage can be fatal.

12. Neglecting Important Responsibilities

People who drink too much often miss work or school. In most cases, they'll call in to stay at home drinking or attend an event where alcohol is present.

If you’re drinking too much, you might notice that you’re prioritizing drinking over:

  • Family
  • Work or school
  • Relationships
  • Chores
  • Pets
  • Personal hygiene

13. Financial Problems

Alcohol has been associated with poor decision-making and poor spending habits.4 If you notice that you’re spending too much money on alcohol, you might have a problem.

14. Weight Loss or Weight Gain

Alcoholism drastically affects how the body absorbs nutrients. Excessive consumption can also hinder the body’s ability to burn fat and carbs efficiently. 

It can also lead to liver inflammation, which can cause weight loss. If you notice significant weight or appetite changes, you might be drinking too much alcohol.

15. Changes to Skin

Drinking too much can affect your skin complexion. This is because alcohol can lead to dehydration and inflammation. It can also throw off your sleep cycle.

If you have the following skin problems, you might be drinking too much:11

  • Dry skin and lips
  • Duller complexion
  • Reduced skin elasticity
  • Puffy or swollen eyes 
  • Amplified wrinkles
  • Crow's feet
  • Dark circles
  • Unexplained bruising

Drinking can also irritate certain skin conditions. This includes psoriasis and rosacea. 

Factors that Determine How Well You Can Handle Alcohol

Determining how much alcohol is too much can also depend on different factors. This includes:

  • Overall health
  • Genetics
  • Age
  • The type of drink

What are the Risk Factors for Alcoholism?

Drinking too much can lead to an AUD. People with AUD have a strong urge to drink alcohol and won’t be able to quit even if they want to.

A few risk factors for alcohol use disorder (alcoholism) include:

  • Regular alcohol consumption: Long-term excessive or binge drinking may lead to alcohol use disorder.
  • Starting age: Those who start drinking early are more likely to develop alcoholism.
  • Family history: Genetic factors, as well as having a parent or relative with alcoholism, increase the risk of AUD.
  • Mental health disorders: People who are anxious or depressed tend to drink more alcohol.
  • Social-cultural factors: Peer pressure and the normalization of alcohol through the media are risk factors for alcoholism.
  • History of trauma: People who have experienced physical or mental trauma are at a higher risk for alcoholism.

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Available Treatment for Alcoholism 

Many inpatient and outpatient recovery centers have qualified therapists. They also have a set of state-of-the-art programs to support recovery.

Drinking too much alcohol can also cause an overdose, also called alcohol poisoning. If you believe someone is experiencing a severe alcohol overdose, seek emergency treatment immediately. 

Acute alcohol poisoning in young people without much experience drinking alcohol can cause death.

Below are some treatment options for alcoholism:


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Drinking in moderation is defined as having one drink a day (for women) or up to two drinks a day (for men). Heavy drinking is having 8 drinks a week (for women) and 15 a week (for men). 

If you’re drinking too much, you’ll notice changes in your daily life. These changes can affect your:

  • Health
  • Social life
  • Work or school life
  • Environment
  • Relationships

Fortunately, there are different treatment options available for alcoholism. If you’ve started drinking too much, consider contacting a healthcare professional.

Updated on August 21, 2023
11 sources cited
Updated on August 21, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. Blood Alcohol Level,” U.S. National Library of Medicine
  2. Hangovers,” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 2021
  3. What Happened? Alcohol, Memory Blackouts, and the Brain,” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
  4. Impaired decision-making under risk in individuals with alcohol dependence,” National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 2014.
  5. Alcohol’s  damaging effect on the brain,” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 2004.
  6. Blood Alcohol Level,” U.S. National Library of Medicine
  7. Alcohol poisoning,” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER), 2018.
  8. Medications for Alcohol Use Disorder,” American Academy of Family Physicians, 2016.
  9. Excessive Alcohol Use.”, 2022.
  10. Sarkar et al. “Alcohol and the Immune System.” Alcohol Research, 2015.
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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
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