10 Signs You or a Loved One Is Problem Drinking

problem drinking

Did you know that approximately 16% of adults in the US binge drink, and at least 6% report they engage in heavy drinking? Excessive alcohol use can increase your risk of heart disease and liver disease and also increases your risk of injuries. Knowing the signs of problem drinking in yourself or a loved one is essential.

Awareness of these signs can pave the way to making significant changes in your life. However, these signs aren’t always easy to pick up on if you don’t know what to look for.

In this guide, you’ll learn ten signs of problem drinking and what you can do to take action.

1. Craving Alcohol

Alcohol cravings are relatively common in people who drink regularly or have binge drinking episodes of more than five days a month. Cravings can occur over time since alcohol can affect the neurotransmitters in your brain.

These types of changes can lead to higher alcohol tolerance, which results in cravings. You can also get alcohol cravings due to a trigger like an emotion or memory associated with drinking alcohol.

If you or a loved one is craving alcohol, it’s a sign to pay attention to. Talking to a therapist about an alcohol treatment program is a great start.

2. Using Alcohol to Manage Stress

Alcohol triggers chemical changes in the brain. These changes lead to short-term feelings of relaxation. If you or your loved one are experiencing a lot of stress in your life, you might turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism.

Alcohol can make you feel more social, confident, and relaxed at the moment, making social situations easier to cope with.

It’s important to realize that although alcohol reduces feelings of stress temporarily, it can lead to long-term problems. This is because alcohol is a depressant that slows down your brain function, changing how you feel and think.

3. Social Life Revolves Around Alcohol

It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between a social drinker and a person with an alcohol use disorder.

Social drinkers typically only drink in social situations and don’t drink until they’re intoxicated. They don’t experience personality changes, get into legal trouble, or think about alcohol when they’re not drinking.

On the other hand, people who have trouble with problem drinking tend to look at every social function as an opportunity to drink. You might notice they’re the first ones that arrive and always bring alcohol.

It’s also common for people to avoid social situations that do not involve alcohol. If you can’t go into a social situation without alcohol, it can indicate a problem with alcohol use.

4. Acting Defensive About Drinking

People with alcohol use problems also tend to get extremely defensive about their drinking habits. If you bring up drinking to your loved one, they might act very hostile towards you about these questions.

You might also notice they become resentful and angry about the topic. They also might make excuses for their drinking or minimize the severity of the issue overall.

These behaviors can make it very difficult to have an honest conversation with a loved one about their drinking habits. Your best course of action is to reach out to a therapist. You can get actionable tips and advice on how you can handle the situation.

5. Lacking Alcohol Limits

When you have an alcohol use disorder (AUD), you can have trouble curbing the number of drinks you have in a night.

People often make plans for the night and initially decide to limit themselves to three drinks in one night. However, they have problems keeping this boundary in place.

All too often, three drinks turn into eight drinks, and they still want to have more. The bar might be ready to close, but they want to find somewhere else to go.

If this sounds like you or a loved one, then it’s essential to take a moment to think about this behavior. Ask yourself honest questions about these behaviors. If you have trouble controlling yourself, you may have AUD.

6. High Tolerance for Alcohol

Another sign of AUD is having a high tolerance for alcohol. You may notice your loved one is not affected by alcohol like other people.

After a shot, other people might feel the effects, but your loved one doesn’t feel much at all. In addition, you may notice they can consume large amounts of alcohol and not feel drunk.

If you have this problem, you might not be fully aware of it. In this case, you might have other people comment about your tolerance. Ultimately, this tolerance grows over time as you continue to drink. You’ll need more and more alcohol to get the same relaxing effect.

Increased alcohol tolerance can lead to other problems, such as:

  • Increased alcohol consumption
  • Ineffectiveness of prescription medications
  • Organ damage
  • Alcohol dependence
  • Difficulty performing daily tasks
  • Increases the toxicity of other medications like sleeping pills

7. Changes in Personality

People struggling with alcohol issues can often experience extreme personality changes while drinking. People who are generally reserved can become loud and talkative. They will also be open about feelings they wouldn’t typically express.

Sometimes, this behavior can turn violent or aggressive, resulting in physical confrontations.

Personality changes can result in making poor decisions. These decisions can range from leaving the bar with a stranger, or driving while intoxicated.

Personality changes are due to the way alcohol affects the body. When you drink alcohol, it goes through your stomach and intestines before it goes into your bloodstream. Once in your bloodstream, it travels through the body and impacts the brain.

As a result, the way your brain functions changes. Once this occurs, you’ll experience things like:

  • More likely to engage in risky behavior
  • Slurred speech
  • Poor judgment in various situations
  • Emotional behaviors like crying or yelling

Over time, you can experience long-term behavioral changes like anxiety, depression, and antisocial behaviors.

Since alcohol can alter your behavior, it can often lead to consequences such as legal trouble.

You might notice your loved one has had frequent job changes or has problems finishing an educational program. DUI arrests are also a common consequence. You might also see your loved one getting into trouble for public intoxication, physical fights, or domestic violence.

Many people don’t see the connection between their drinking and these consequences. You may notice your loved one blames their boss or the police for being too strict.

If you notice these changes in your life, it’s a good indicator that your alcohol use is causing more problems than you may realize. It leads to a stressful cycle that alters your life and relationships.

Talking to an experienced therapist will allow you to form a plan to pave the path toward healing.

9. Drinking All Day

You might also notice that drinking doesn’t only occur at night or after work. People with alcohol use problems may start drinking at work or school during the day.

Drinking excessively in the morning or after lunch is common. You might notice your loved one brushing their teeth often or using mouthwash to cover up the scent of alcohol.

Functional alcoholism describes people who are dependent on alcohol but are still able to function in society and do their job each day. Drinking doesn’t cause them to miss work or other obligations; they typically appear healthy mentally and physically on the outside.

However, just because they can manage their life doesn’t mean they don’t experience cravings, depression, or obsessive thoughts about drinking.

10. Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol use problems can also lead to symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. It’s a sign that occasional drinking has become an alcohol addiction problem. It’s also essential to be able to recognize these symptoms in a loved one or yourself.

Alcohol withdrawal occurs after a person who regularly drinks alcohol abruptly stops. There are different stages of alcohol withdrawal, and the first stage can begin anywhere between 6 to 24 hours after your last drink. The symptoms of the first stage include:

  • Anxiety
  • Shaky hands
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia

Stage two occurs 12 to 48 hours after your last drink. This stage has more intense symptoms like confusion, seizures, hallucinations, and irregular heart rate.

Finally, stage three begins 48 to 72 hours after drinking. People in this stage can experience vivid delusions and hallucinations. They can also have heavy sweating, fever, high blood pressure, and a significantly elevated heart rate.

Remember, not everyone will experience all these symptoms, and some will experience mild symptoms. Most people don’t need medical attention, but be sure to call 911 for severe symptoms like seizures or disorientation.

A quiet place, healthy food, and limited contact with people help relieve most symptoms.

Get Treatment for Problem Drinking Today

If you or your loved one have problem drinking behaviors, then it’s time to take an honest look at how it’s affecting your life.

If you’re ready to find a long-term solution, you can turn to At Detox to Rehab for help. We have information on various alcohol treatment programs, including inpatient and outpatient detox and rehab programs.

We’ll help you take the first steps toward recovery by providing all the resources and information you need. We can also help you develop solutions if you’re concerned about a loved one’s alcohol use.

You can reach us today by calling our treatment hotline at (866) 578-7471 to speak with a care counselor. You can also visit our website to fill out a contact form.

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52 comments
  1. Alcoholism is very common because buying it is really easy. Regulation regarding alcohol consumption should be properly regulated. Unfortunately, without the help of those in authority will make this problem much much worse.

  2. Drinking ocassioaly is fine after all we all meed alcohol. I do not drink but I have seen this. We got to learn when to stop as Addiction can start from the smallest thing. Drink safely or not at all.

  3. These are the real signs of one that love alcohol. Especially the sign of drinking all day, it’s a sign of one that can’t do without drinks

  4. This is the problem of many people. They will think, drinking will numb the of their pains. That, at that particular time, they won’t remember their problems.

  5. The signs of one that like alcohol are craving all day for it, always drinking with friends and eat less of food but drinks more.

  6. Indeed, problem of alcolic drinking needs to be avoided. Excessive intake of alcohol is detrimental to people’s health. People should drink responsibly.

  7. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can also result from difficulties with alcohol usage. It indicates that a problem with alcohol addiction has developed from casual drinking. Knowing how to spot these signs in a loved one or in oneself is equally crucial.

  8. Drinking has no benefits to the body whatsoever. Most especially alcoholic drinks.
    If one is addicted to it, he/she can seek treatment or help from the appropriate quarter.

  9. Thanks a lot for posting the signs of problem drinking. I don’t have a drinking problem but I have a cousin who has this problem . Now , I know how to help him. A long term solution is just what I need and I know that turning to Detox to Rehab will not bring any regrets .
    Your information on various alcohol treatment programs, including inpatient and outpatient detox and rehab programs will surely go a long way. Thanks a lot for the post

  10. In fact, there are some sub-problems from the enlisted problems. This show how complicated the addiction to alcohol could be. Thanks for this useful information.

  11. Alcohol withdrawal can be a big decision to make and a difficult task to do. It might not be easy at first, but being committed to such a decision will help towards recovery.

  12. It is surprising to me that I have been binge drinking and I didn’t know. I take alcohol to relax sometimes. So going forward I need to watch myself, so I don’t get addicted to it.

  13. Thank you for the detailed article on 10 signs that can help you identify you or a loved one has problem drinking. I believe with early intervention and proper understanding you can prevent one from becoming an alcohol addict.

  14. I have also noticed that many addicts become angry and try to defend their addiction rather than dealing it and I think that this is also a really major problem with many addicts. They need to realise that they might have a problem and they need to deal with it.

  15. I have been wondering why some people are so glue to alcohol. These items reasons have actually revealed some of the reasons. Thanks for this revelation.

  16. Alcohol most definitely has a commanding influence on people’s lives. I find it can sometimes bring out your inner frustrations, which is why many users become hostile. It’s interesting that you mentioned some drinkers avoid social settings without alcohol, because they’re so dependent on their vice, that they’re afraid of interacting sober.

  17. Wow , it’s really problem if someone we love have binged drink alcohol we can ask for help on detoxrehab.com.thank you for your help

  18. I have learnt so much from the article, like the tell tell signs that someone is an alcoholic but is unaware. I agree that binge drinking is dangerous and even more worse than drinking at the bar as someone else is there to regulate and stop you from over drinking.

  19. Thanks for sharing this, it is really educative. The post is a pointer that shows whether one is addicted to alcohol or only involves in binge drinking.

  20. The biggest red flag of someone having a drinking problem is using every social event as an opportunity to drink. That is usually very telling.

  21. Thanks for sharing these ten vital tells of a person with a drinking problem. I’ll be on the lookout for them among my loved ones.

  22. The 12 step process has helped numerous people overcome their alcohol addiction. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone having a drinking problem.

  23. This is a whole lot of information, I filled schooled about how to taking too much alcohol works . I’m definitely going to share these knowledge with others.

  24. Wow! This article is well-written! All points are really helpful. Sometimes, we take alcohol abuse lightly. But with this information, I now have a keen eye on what to observe moving forward.

  25. One really does have to be careful with alcohol because, I bet most people will fall into one of the categories of drinkers above.

  26. Even tho I consider myself as a social drinker, this article really helps me to set a boundaries for me and my family. Thanks a lot.

  27. It can be said any other way. This is sure a beautiful write up on drinking problems. Taking heed is what matters now. Thanks Detoxtorehab.

  28. thank you detax to rehab for sharing these type of stories with all of us.These stories are really very much helpful for many people.

  29. Thanks for this article. Alcohol may be poised as a good servant, but it can become a terrorizing tyrant over a person life given the slightest opportunity.
    It’s wise to steer clear of it.

  30. Using alcohol to manage stress is usually a huge red flag that someone has a drinking problem. Incredible tips you’ve shared here.

  31. I had a friend who always acted defensive about his drinking. Turns out he really had a drinking problem. Thank you for the great post!

  32. I will be using these ten tips to spot my loved ones who may be hiding their drinking issues. These should really come in handy.

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