The Warning Signs of Alcoholism: A Detailed Guide

Do you fear that you or a loved one is suffering from the early signs of alcoholism? Do you feel that getting sober will be a bit more of a process than quitting cold turkey? If so, then you need to learn all that you can about the warning signs of alcoholism.

Doing so can help you create more accountability for yourself or your loved ones. If caught early enough, it can even prevent alcoholism in the first place.

See below for an in-depth guide on all the alcoholism signs that you should keep an eye out for with your friends and family.

1. Drinking Through Confrontation

As you well know, alcoholism isn’t an easy topic to tackle. Even if you have noticed that a loved one gets too carried away with their drinking, it can be hard to confront them about it.

It’s even harder if, after you’ve worked up the courage to confront them, they continue to drink and carry on as usual. This is a telltale sign that there’s something else at play; alcoholism is brought on by something else.

This could be things like the loss of a loved one, problems at work, problems at home, or a traumatic experience in their past that they refuse to cope with. Instead, they turn to the bottle, regardless of who it hurts along the way.

Once a loved one confronts them about their drinking, be warned: they might try to sneak it in whenever you’re not around. 

If they experience a strong craving to drink, then they might continue to do so even when a relative or friend has asked them to stop. They might even go so far as to disconnect from that family member or other social groups to drink instead. If you notice them pulling away, it might be time for help from a professional.

2. The Inability to Stop

One of the biggest misconceptions about alcoholism is that people think it pops up out of nowhere. They think that it happens almost overnight and without any prior signs. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, most alcoholics have had multiple instances where they wanted to cut down or control their drinking, but they couldn’t. Eventually, that downward spiral leads to one place: rock bottom.

One of the biggest signs of early-stage alcoholism is when a person cannot find the courage to change their drinking habits.

In The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg outlines the “habit loop” that is used to develop any type of habit (good or bad). Each habit loop has the same three stages: a cue, a routine, and a reward. 

When done in repetition, that habit loop creates a habit that is so strong it cannot be reversed, it can only be altered. 

For example, one alcoholic might undergo the same habit loop every time they turn to the drink, such as this one:

  • The Cue: He/She gets in a fight with their spouse
  • The Routine: After/During the fight, they turn to the drink to “relieve” the pain
  • The Reward: A temporary way to escape the pain they’re feeling inside

If you notice that a loved one of yours is trying to stop drinking, but can’t, then have them reach out to Hope Rising Recovery for help.

3. Drink More Than Intended

There are always subtle signs that alcoholism might be forming. The night gets away from you and, if you aren’t careful, you may feed into the addiction a bit too much.

We all know those people that are notorious for having more than they intended. At the beginning of the night, they say they’ll have one or two beers. Within a few hours, they’ve drunk several beers, had some shots, etc. 

Believe it or not, this is a subtle cry for help. It’s a sign that they don’t have control over their drinking and need to get professional direction to eradicate it from their life.

4. Physical Signs

Alcoholism doesn’t just take a toll on you mentally and emotionally, it can also have a drastic effect on your physical appearance. Be on the lookout for any of these signs in your loved ones.

  • Their hygiene has regressed
  • They’ve lost a significant amount of weight (in an unhealthy amount of time)
  • They have the smell of alcohol in their breath often
  • Their skin is drying out
  • Their hair is thinning noticeably
  • They have yellow eyes

Any of the above signs could be a sign of alcoholism but aren’t always. However, if most of these apply to your loved one, then consider it to be the truth.

5. Drinking Leads to Danger

Unfortunately, drinking can often lead to people doing dangerous and negligent things when they’re at their worst.

If you have a loved one with a habit of getting into danger when they’re drunk, such as driving while intoxicated, then it’s a sign they need to be confronted. Especially if they’ve made a habit out of this.

Their “thirst for danger” is a sign that they have some skeletons that need to come out of the closet. Be sure to help them get the professional advice they need.

Stay On Alert for the Warning Signs of Alcoholism

Now that you have seen an in-depth guide on the warning signs of alcoholism, be sure to use this information to your advantage. If you see someone crying for help, offer them a hand.

Be sure to browse our website for more articles on alcoholism signs, as well as many other topics that you will find inspiring and helpful.