There are several indicators of a budding alcohol problem. If not caught and addressed, anyone exhibiting these signs has a great chance of developing an alcohol addiction, if they haven’t already. Alcohol is considered the king of addictions, because it’s easily accessed and in a way, unexpected. According to the Mayo Clinic, here are 12 warning signs of problematic drinking.

Drinking alcohol alone or closet-drinking

If a habit has to be hidden, the behavior is probably either dangerous or won’t be accepted. When drinking is hidden or done in secret, that means the user is ashamed of the particular action. 

Inability to limit alcohol drinking

If someone is unable to stop after “just one drink,” that can be a big indicator that there’s an issue. When a user can’t turn off the proverbial button, drinking can become a dangerous activity due to the effects of intoxication. 

Experiencing blackouts after drinking

After consuming too much alcohol, it’s likely that the user may either not remember snippets of the events which took place while drinking. Or, they may blackout and forget the entire night. This is dangerous because the user’s ability to reason was most likely decreased, which could lead to destructive, criminal activities. 

Making a habit of drinking at specific times and becoming agitated when the habit is questioned or disturbed

If someone either can’t go a day without their ritualistic drink, this could be a red flag. They’ve formed a habit, possibly without realizing it, which can lead to addiction. 

Losing interest in hobbies

This person may have once loved a certain activity, but has lost interest due to the use of alcohol. Either they would prefer to drink, or have to forgo the activity due to alcohol’s lasting effects.

Because alcohol is so easily accessible and considered a gateway drug, it’s important to deter teens from using. Whether it’s due to social pressure or curiosity, here are 30 ways to keep your teen from drinking.

Feeling the need to drink

If this person has the urge to drink, especially if this is often, this is a sign of problematic drinking.

Irritable when “drinking time” approaches, but there is no alcohol around

This person is used to having alcohol around and when it’s not within reach, they easily can become moody and distant. 

Keeping alcohol in odd places at home, work, or in the car

This can be similar to hiding their drinking. If someone feels the need to hide their liquor (or go as far as to keep it in the car/at work), this may mean they’re afraid to go too long or too far from their liquor.

Gulping Drinks

This includes ordering “doubles” or becoming intentionally intoxicated to feel good or “normal.”

To learn more about the long and short-term effects of alcohol, click here.

Building a tolerance

Not only does this mean they’ve been drinking frequently, but it also means that they need to consume more drinks to feel alcohol’s effects. 

Developing an alcohol addiction can sneak up on a person – many people don’t realize it’s a problem because they’re able to keep their lives together. For a while. Read about how one man came to terms with his addiction.

Having legal, relationship, or employment problems

It’s illegal to drive while under the influence. When alcohol becomes a problem, the user may find him/herself driving under the influence. This can also lead to relationship troubles due to the new “persona” alcohol forces abusers to assume while intoxicated. Employers may also catch on when the user either cannot come to work in the morning or does come to work, either drunk or hungover. 

Experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms

This includes nausea, sweating, and shaking when the user isn’t drinking. The fact that they cannot go a day without having to drink to feel “normal” should be addressed. 

For more information about alcohol, click here for the overview.

Should you or a loved one display any of these signs or have an alcohol addiction, visit Recovery Guidance or click here for information to find help.


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Recovery Answers
Founded in 2012 by Dr. John F. Kelly, the Recovery Research Institute is a team of highly innovative and rigorously trained scientists working through research, education, and outreach, to enhance recovery through science. As an entity of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, the institute is known as a leader in the scientific investigation of substance use disorder mechanisms and processes.

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