Is Your Loved One Abusing Alcohol? How to Identify Alcoholism

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Are you worried that your loved one is abusing alcohol? While alcohol use is legal and widely accepted, alcohol dependence can cause myriad health issues and discomfort for families and friends of those dependent on alcohol. In fact, the Center for Disease Control estimates that 88,000 deaths are caused from excess drinking each year.

Because alcohol is easily attainable, it can be difficult to tell if someone has an issue with alcohol dependence or alcohol abuse, but there are some key factors you can look for. Read on to find out how to identify if your loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse or alcoholism, and where you can turn for help.

Who Is at Risk for Alcohol Abuse?

Anyone can become an alcohol abuser or alcoholic, but the risk is greater in adult women who drink more than eight drinks per week and adult men who drink more than 15 drinks per week. Your loved one might be abusing alcohol or suffering from alcoholism if they meet the following characteristics:

  • They drink alone or secretly
  • They cannot control how much they drink
  • They have an abnormally high alcohol tolerance
  • They become irritable when they cannot or do not drink
  • They continue to drink even when it affects their daily lives
  • They can’t fall asleep without first drinking
  • They need to drink in the morning to get going
  • They lie about how much they drink
  • They drink and drive or have experienced legal issues due to drinking

What Is Alcohol Abuse?

Alcohol abuse is not so easily defined, simply because abusing alcohol does not necessarily make someone an alcoholic. For example, college students often abuse alcohol at parties, but that doesn’t mean that they become dependent. An alcohol abuser is often defined by the way alcohol consumption interrupts their daily life.

Someone becomes an alcohol abuser when they neglect their daily responsibilities or behave recklessly because of their drinking habits. Alcohol abusers will often drink to deal with stress, anxiety, depression, and other emotions.

Signs of alcohol abuse include taking serious risks like mixing prescription medication with alcohol, or even drinking and driving. Alcohol abusers will also often miss work because of a hangover or spend less time with their families because they’d rather be at the bar.

What Is Alcoholism?

An alcoholic is different from an alcohol abuser because they are dependent on alcohol to get through the day. Alcoholics also have high alcohol tolerances, meaning they need to drink more to feel drunk or tipsy. This can cause the person to drink heavily each time they drink, which increases the chances of alcohol abuse turning into alcoholism.

When someone is dependent on alcohol, they often experience withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, depression, fatigue, nausea, tremors, headaches, and irritability. Drinking can seemingly quell these symptoms, causing alcoholics to drink even more and fall into a cycle of alcohol dependence.

Signs of alcoholism include drinking in spite of knowing the personal and financial harm alcohol consumption is causing themselves, their friends, and their families. Alcoholics often cannot stop themselves from drinking even if they try to. Drinking and thinking about getting their next drink can often control their thoughts and distract from everyday life.

What Is High-Functioning Alcoholism?

Identifying a high-functioning alcoholic is difficult because they often seem like they “have it all together” on the outside. A high-functioning alcoholic is typically someone who abuses alcohol, but is still seemingly a high-functioning member of society. This can mean they are able to hold down jobs, perform daily responsibilities, and even have happy families.

Essentially, high-functioning alcoholics are able to appear completely normal on the surface, and their alcoholism does not disrupt their daily lives. However, a high-functioning alcoholic’s alcohol consumption and abuse rarely go unnoticed by those close to them. Family members and friends who are close to high-functioning alcoholics often know there’s a problem before anyone else does.

How to Get Help

If you feel that your loved one is showing signs of alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence, it’s easy to feel helpless. Alcoholism is an extremely dangerous disease, but it can be hard to convince an alcoholic to seek help when they don’t feel that they have a serious problem. What you can do is educate yourself about the types of treatment available to your loved one.

At Mountain Peak Recovery we specialize in both inpatient and outpatient rehab treatments for alcohol and drug addiction. Your loved one will be immersed in a culture of sobriety and surrounded by qualified support. Contact Mountain Peak Recovery to find out more about how alcohol addiction rehab in Utah can help your loved one.


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