When To Intervene: Identifying A Problem With Alcohol
Watching a loved one drink themselves to sleep every night or until they act entirely unlike themselves is hard. Helping them find the path to seeking help and treatment for their problem with alcohol can be even harder. To make the process a little bit easier, we’ve compiled a list of ways to help spot unhealthy drinking habits and potential alcohol use disorder.
Before diving into the individual signs, it is important to note that everyone’s experience with substance abuse is different. While some may check all the boxes and have easily identifiable signs, others may be more difficult to recognize. For example, some people may be able to recognize they have a problem and will therefore drink in private while others may not acknowledge their habits and be more open about their drinking.
The severity of a loved one’s alcohol abuse will also have a significant impact on the ability to recognize the following warning signs. Someone with mild alcohol abuse may have fewer symptoms, but that does not mean that they are not suffering or on the path to a more severe case of alcohol abuse. Catching warning signs early will make it easier to help guide your loved one to seek out treatment and to begin rethinking drinking.
If you begin to notice any of the following symptoms, consider intervening sooner rather than later. Early intervention can significantly impact your loved one’s recovery. Some common symptoms of alcohol abuse include noticing that your loved one:
- Drinks in secret or alone
As mentioned earlier, if your loved one drinks in secret, it may be a sign they are aware of their drinking problem and feel they need to hide it in order to be able to keep drinking. While some may drink entirely in secret, others will consume extra alcohol in secret to match their high tolerance. Some will either drink before an event while others may find an excuse to down a drink or two in the public restroom.
If someone close to you seems to drink in secret or habitually lies about how much they have had to drink, this is a warning sign that they have a problem. You should also note whether they try to hide empty alcohol bottles in the trash as this can be another warning sign.
- Experiences temporary blackouts or short term memory loss
People who partake in heavy drinking may experience both short and long term memory loss. If you ever hear your loved one mention that they cannot recall events from the night before or the last time they were drinking, they may have experienced a blackout. While some may not remember the entire night, others may forget key details such as where they put their keys.
If it is not caught early enough, short term memory loss can transition into long term memory loss. Initially, alcohol affects the brain and moments of heavy drinking will slow the hippocampus. When this is done repeatedly, the alcohol will begin to destroy the nerve cells in your hippocampus, resulting in and increasing the risk of long term memory loss.
- Acts overly irritable or has extreme mood swings
When someone has consumed alcohol, they may act overly affectionate, being overly touchy and telling people they love them. They may also act unusually impulsive and make rash decisions such as deciding to drive drunk. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol misuse was the first-leading risk factor for premature death in 2014.
When they come down from the effects of alcohol, their mood may shift, resulting in a longing to feel freer again. If someone with a problem with alcohol cannot obtain alcohol, they may become increasingly depressed, anxious, or agitated. This is one example of a binge drinking related mood swing. Another example may be that a person becomes excessively angry with or without alcohol.
- Makes excuses for drinking
If you hear phrases such as “It’s just to relax” or “I need one more to feel normal,” your loved one may be experiencing a form of alcohol dependence. Other common phrases you may hear include: “I deserve a drink, my job is so stressful” or “I don’t have a problem, I’ve never gotten a DUI” or “Could someone with a drinking problem wake up and go to work every day?”
Many alcoholics will use these excuses to allow themselves to have “just one more drink.” However, people who have a problem with alcohol often cannot stop themselves from having another drink after the first or after the second. Because alcoholics struggle with moderation, they will use excuses to continue to drink large amounts of alcohol.
- Grows distant from friends or family members
If you confront a loved one or friend about their alcohol consumption, they may distance themselves from you. Some will do this because they understand they have a problem and do not want to confront it. Others will do so because they do not think they have a problem and therefore find your accusation disheartening.
If you notice your loved one or friends has a potential problem with alcohol and are unsure how to step in, DiRomaTherapy is here to help. DiRoma Therapy is a drug and alcohol addiction therapy business in Darien, CT that specializes in intervention and counseling.
Taking the first step to begin recovering from alcohol can be difficult, which is why DiRoma Therapy is always willing to lend their profession advice and a listening ear. For more information about our services, visit us online or call us today at 203.667.7526. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding your loved one’s drinking problems or even your own.