Identifying Alcoholic Behavior – Nearly all alcoholics find it difficult to quit drinking on their own, and this is one primary reason why professional alcohol treatment is usually the most effective approach to achieving sobriety. But how can you identify addiction behaviors in yourself or a loved one and intervene and seek treatment early?
Alcohol abuse can, and often does, result in several problems, including a strain on family, relationships, finances, as well as health and legal issues. Recognizing and treating alcohol addiction early on can prevent many of these problems or minimize their harm.
Identifying alcoholic behavior and problematic drinking in others is often easier than recognizing these behaviors and problems in oneself. For this reason, if you suspect a loved one has an alcohol use disorder, you must approach this subject cautiously. Most alcoholics are not ready to accept that they have a problem, even if drinking is causing adverse consequences in their lives.
Hallmark Signs of a Drinking Problem
If you are reading this, chances are good you probably already suspect that someone you know – or even you yourself – may have a drinking problem. The following list includes classic alcoholic behaviors that may help confirm suspicions.
A drinking problem may exist if the person in question has exhibited or experienced the following:
- A history of attempts to quit drinking that have been unsuccessful
- Blackouts or memory lapses while drinking
- Continuing to consume alcohol despite problems with relationships, profession, or academics
- Drinking a greater amount of alcohol or for a longer period than intended
- Finding or making excuses to drink
- Developing an increased tolerance for alcohol
- Developing a physiological dependence and experiencing withdrawal symptoms when alcohol use is discontinued
- Legal and/or financial troubles related to drinking
- Neglecting personal responsibilities or activities in place of drinking
- Being deceptive and secretive to hide alcohol and drinking habits
So, once you recognize an alcohol problem, you may be able to confirm it by consulting a doctor, psychiatrist, or licensed psychologist for diagnosis. To do so, the person will need to undergo a comprehensive physical and psychological assessment, as well as answer a number of questions relating to their history of substance use, family genetics, and developmental environment.
Alcoholic Behavior Should Not Be Overlooked
When alcoholic behavior becomes apparent, it’s likely that the problem has existed for some time. Problematic drinkers can put a great deal of effort into hiding their alcoholism, and therefore, it’s not always easy to identify them right away. In the early stages, there may be very few signs that would indicate a significant problem.
The clear signs of alcoholism may not become evident until peak use is occurring. This peak or “tipping point” between drinking and full-blown alcoholism may take years or even decades to evolve to the point where it’s undeniable. For example, high-functioning alcoholics can often maintain a normal life with minimal or no signs at all.
There are some common behaviors of a drinker that can indicate the presence of alcoholism at an early stage. If you perceive that your loved one copes with life’s challenges by drinking, this could be a red flag. As the disease advances, so do the more prominent signs of problem drinking.
What is Alcoholic Behavior?
Typical behavior of alcoholics includes actions that people take when drinking has gotten out of control. While alcohol use can drive many of us to engage in risky or impulsive behaviors, it is when this becomes an everyday event for the problematic drinker that it requires further investigation.
Drinking behaviors include both things that people do while intoxicated as well as those things that a person will do to obtain alcohol and avoid detection and/or confrontation about drinking habits. Alcohol use alters how the brain functions, so people have known to commit harmful, abusive, or illicit acts unintentionally while intoxicated.
These behaviors include:
- Abusive acts such as emotional, physical, and verbal abuse
- Drinking in secret
- Neglecting important responsibilities regarding family, work, or school
- Instigating fights or physically assaulting others
- Acting irrationally and saying hurtful things to others, and having no recollection of these events
- the following day
- Driving drunk or riding in a car with someone who is also impaired
- Engaging in irresponsible sexual activity such as unprotected sex
- Risking the safety of themselves and others
- Unlawful activity that may result in legal consequences
Indeed, there is a pronounced effect of alcoholism on behavior. It can alter the way someone acts and elicit personality changes. In fact, statistics regularly suggest that many crimes are related to alcohol abuse.
According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), offenders in more than one-third (37 percent) of sexual assaults are intoxicated. The reports also reveal that 27 percent of aggravated assaults, 25 percent of simple assaults, and 15 percent of robberies involved alcohol use by the person offending.
Moreover, even those who are usually calm and stable can become aggressive and violent when drinking heavily. Alcohol can negatively affect someone’s personality, motivations, priorities, mental health, and ability to respond appropriately to stress.
It’s important to highlight the fact that some people can maintain a relatively “normal” life as a high-functioning alcoholic. The signs of alcoholism may be mostly mild in someone such as this, and that’s why it’s so vitally important to be aware. These people are often able to engage in their daily lives as if there were no problem at all.
Many high-functioning alcoholics and alcohol abusers can hold down jobs of some importance, such as those in law enforcement or the medical field. The problem is, however, these individuals still face significant risks to their health. They may be flying under the radar regarding familial, financial, or legal effects, but they are still damaging their kidneys and liver with chronic, excessive drinking.
Alcoholic Behavior Identified: The Next Steps
Realizing that you or someone close to you is suffering from alcohol abuse problems can be very alarming, and rightfully so. The good news, however, is that alcoholism, like any chronic disease, can be treated and managed.
The following steps should be taken once a substance use disorder has been identified:
1. Communicate with family and close friends as soon as possible, and make them aware of the situation. Many alcoholics find that the support of loved ones makes the recovery process much easier.
2. The alcoholic, ideally with help from others, should then take steps to enroll in an alcohol recovery program. This process may start with a meeting with an addiction specialist or calling and making reservations at a treatment center. Treatment is crucial for curbing alcoholic behavior.
3. If the individual is not ready to acknowledge that he or she has an alcohol problem and needs treatment, a staged intervention may be the next best step. During an intervention, a person’s loved ones gather together and confront the individual about their disorder and how it impacts him or her as well as loved ones. A licensed addiction counselor may be present during an intervention to help keep the discussion on an appropriate course and persuade the person to seek help.
Getting Help For Alcohol Abuse
Recognizing the dangerous effects of excessive drinking is the first step toward recovery. Those who routinely engage in alcoholic behavior are encouraged to seek professional, comprehensive treatment for alcohol abuse.
Harmony Treatment and Wellness offers an evidence-based approach that includes therapeutic services vital to recovery, such as psychotherapy, individual and family counseling, education, and group support. Please don’t allow alcohol addiction to continue leading you down a path of self-destruction.
Our addiction specialists can provide clients with the resources and tools they need to recover, prevent relapse, and enjoy long-lasting well-being and sobriety! Call us today to find out how we can help!