speech, uncoordinated movements, and lowered inhibitions: it’s easy to tell
when a person has been drinking. However, identifying a deeper addiction
problem may not be so black and white.
may be able to hide many of the more obvious symptoms of addiction for a long
period of time before a friend, colleague, or family member can put the pieces
together to see that their loved one’s strange behavior is a sign of a much
bigger problem. Too often the addicted person and the people around them choose
to ignore it, or find themselves in a state of denial about the realities of
the alcohol addiction.
you suspect that a friend or loved one is addicted to alcohol, pay attention to
the warning signs. Certain behaviors may indicate that a person’s pattern of
drinking is the result of alcohol addiction.
of alcoholism include:
unable to control how much you drink
unable to control when you drink
compelled or having strong cravings to drink
a tolerance to alcohol so that you need to consume increasingly larger amounts
of alcohol in order to experience the same “feel-good” effects
to drink in order to feel “normal” or “good”
alcohol in unlikely places, such as at work, in your car, or in unusual places
in your house
alone or in secret
if you can’t drink when you want to
to drink despite negative consequences in your personal or professional life
to drink over engaging in other activities and hobbies, including spending time
with friends and family
blackouts, or periods of time when you can’t remember what you did, where you
were, or who you were with
may also experience physical symptoms when you are unable to drink. These are
signs of a physical addiction—that is, your body feels it is unable to act and
function as it should without the alcohol. These symptoms include:
What Is Alcohol Abuse?
abuse is a less serious issue when compared with alcoholism, though it has many
health complications and can lead to alcoholism if not treated. People who
abuse alcohol but are not physically addicted may experience many of the same
signs and symptoms as people who have alcoholism. However, people who abuse
alcohol often do not have the same cravings or need to drink that a person with
alcoholism does. Instead, a person who abuses alcohol is not able to control
his or her drinking when they do drink.
How Is Alcoholism Diagnosed?
laboratory or diagnostic test can confirm an alcohol addiction. Instead,
addiction is a diagnosis of exclusion—when all behaviors and health problems
are taken into consideration, your doctor may determine that your drinking is
in fact an addiction, not just alcohol abuse.
reach a more informed conclusion, some doctors use questionnaires to evaluate
your dependence on alcohol as well as your behavior when you consume it. Your
family members, colleagues, and friends may also be asked to answer similar
questions. Together, these may be able to help your doctor understand the root
of your problem, the behaviors that trigger drinking, and the best course of
treatment for your specific situation.