Spotting the Signs of Alcoholism in a Loved One

The line between social drinking and alcoholism can be murky when you don’t know what to look for. When you meet for drinks with a friend or family member and they consistently get loud after one too many, do you worry? Have you heard about your friend’s massive hangovers? Do you suspect your loved one drinks more than what they will tell you?

Drinking is a socially acceptable activity in our society, but there’s a difference between social drinking and having a drinking problem. Knowing where casual drinking becomes alcoholism can help you decide if your loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse.

Alcohol Statistics

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, excessive alcohol use is responsible for 88,000 deaths in the United States each year.1 College students are even more at risk. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that in 2015, 58 percent of college students between the ages of 18-33 drank alcohol in the past month, and 37.9 percent reported binge drinking.2 When about 60 percent of adults over the age of 18 don’t drink at all or less than one drink each week, it’s easier to tell the difference between average drinking behavior and what constitutes a problem.3

Signs of Alcoholism

Woman getting drunkKnowing the signs of alcohol abuse can help you determine if your friend or loved one has a problem. If you think your loved one’s social drinking has become alcohol abuse, ask yourself the following questions:

Does your loved one. . .

  • Drink more than necessary or drink in increasingly heavier amounts indicating tolerance?
  • Rarely remember what he/she did the night before or has frequent “blackouts?”
  • Lie about how much he/she drinks?
  • Mention the need to drink in order to relax or feel better?
  • Neglect activities or responsibilities because of drinking?
  • Regularly drink more than he/she intended? Does “just one drink” become five in the matter of a couple hours?
  • Get visibly nervous or irritated when alcohol is not present?
  • Complain that others are responsible for his/her drinking or alcohol-related problems?
  • Get in legal trouble due to drinking?
  • Mention quitting but never seems to quit?
  • Drink despite legal, social, economic, or family problems?

If you suspect a good friend or family member of having an alcohol problem the first step is to talk to them. Express your concern over their drinking and show your support.  Denial is a large part of addiction, so your friend may insist that he doesn’t have a problem. Pay attention to his behavior, and don’t encourage drinking if you really think a problem exists.

Treatment for Alcohol Abuse

When it comes to alcohol abuse, as with other diseases of addiction, getting your loved one to admit he has a problem is the first step. Once he realizes his drinking is out of control, help is available through treatment and 12-Step recovery programs. Sometimes an intervention is necessary to make a loved one realize the damage he is doing to himself and those around him. A trained interventionist can help you and your family members plan a successful intervention and find treatment for your addicted loved one. Through individual and group counseling, family therapy and other holistic treatment options, your loved one can learn to live life free from the control of alcohol.

Finding Help for Alcoholism

If you can answer “yes” to one or more of the signs of alcohol abuse in your loved one, it’s time to explore the treatment options available at The Oaks at La Paloma. Alcoholism is a serious illness requiring professional treatment. Call us 24 hours a day to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options. You are not alone. Call us now.

1At a Glance 2016-Excessive Alcohol Use.” Accessed 13 Nov. 2017.

2“Alcohol Facts and Statistics.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Accessed 13 Nov. 2017.

3 Ingraham, Christopher. “Think you drink a lot? This chart will tell you.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 25 Sept. 2014.