Menu Close

Alcohol Abuse Warning Signs

a person holds their hand to their face in disappointment after recognizing alcohol abuse warning signs

Alcohol use disorder is a complex and deceptive disease characterized by denial, dishonesty, and deflection. It can be challenging to recognize because alcohol is legal and socially accepted. However, there are recognizable alcohol abuse warning signs that can help identify the problem. If you suspect someone, including yourself, may be misusing alcohol, find help in an alcohol addiction treatment program now by calling 888.450.2153.

Drinking Patterns Can Be Alcohol Abuse Signs

Going out for a couple of drinks after work or having a few beers while watching the game may seem like harmless social activities. However, for individuals at risk for addiction, these seemingly innocent behaviors can quickly turn into dangerous drinking patterns, like frequent, heavy, or binge drinking.

Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is a pattern of behavior where a man drinks five or more alcoholic beverages in less than two hours. For women, the standard is four or more alcoholic beverages within the same timeframe. Regular binge drinking can result in changes within the brain.

Heavy Drinking

Heavy drinking is drinking five or more alcoholic beverages on the same occasion on five or more days during the past month. This pattern is different from binge drinking because it is not limited to one specific event. Many people who engage in heavy drinking may not even realize that they have a problem.

Frequent Drinking

Frequent drinking, also known as daily or regular drinking, can also be a sign of alcohol abuse. This pattern involves consuming alcohol on most days of the week, often in smaller amounts but consistently over time.

Engaging in any of these drinking patterns can be a sign that someone is struggling with alcohol abuse. However, it’s important to note that not everyone who engages in binge, heavy, or frequent drinking will develop an alcohol use disorder.

Physical Warning Signs of Alcohol Abuse

Changes in appearance are often the most obvious alcohol abuse warning signs. These physical changes can occur very quickly and may include:

  • The constant smell of alcohol on the breath
  • Noticeable weight loss or gain
  • Broken capillaries on the face, especially on and around the nose
  • Dry skin
  • Brittle fingernails and hair
  • A red-based, flushed appearance
  • Yellow eyes or skin, possibly indicating liver damage
  • Poor personal hygiene, like body odor, teeth not brushed, disheveled hair
  • Incontinence
  • Gastritis
  • Tremors

Additionally, physical signs can include withdrawal symptoms, which happen when a person stops drinking.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Someone experiencing withdrawal symptoms when abstaining from alcohol may have:

  • Extreme agitation
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium tremens
  • Seizures

Delirium tremens (DTs) are a severe form of alcohol withdrawal that can be life-threatening. Attempting to detox from alcohol without medical supervision can be dangerous. Alcohol detox programs can provide a safe and supportive environment for individuals to stop drinking and begin their journey of recovery.

Behavioral Alcohol Abuse Signs

A person’s behavior is usually the truest test of whether or not there is a current problem with alcohol. Most of these signs have to do with how a person drinks or how they go about acquiring their alcohol and may include:

  • Drinking alone
  • Hiding how often and how much they drink
  • Binge-drinking
  • Intense daily cravings
  • Making multiple unsuccessful attempts to cut back or quit drinking
  • Constantly looking for reasons to drink
  • Using alcohol to cope with stress or frustration
  • Engaging in dangerous behaviors, like driving drunk or drinking despite a health condition
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
  • Missing work, school, or family events
  • Poor job or school performance
  • Using other substances
  • Continuing to drink in spite of negative consequences
  • “Bargaining” with drinking, like switching from liquor to beer, vowing not to drink except on weekends, or not drinking during the daytime

Unfortunately, alcohol addiction can result in negative personal consequences. Relationship problems can result in divorce; poor performance can result in unemployment; risky behaviors like driving drunk can result in legal problems, injury, or death. Finding help for substance abuse is essential in these situations.

Personality Warning Signs of Alcohol Abuse

As addiction progresses, the brain will undergo profound chemical changes. Those changes can alter a person’s thought patterns and personality in ways that are easily spotted as alcohol abuse warning signs.

Individuals living with alcohol addiction may experience:

  • Co-occurring disorders, like anxiety, depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, ADHD, or schizophrenia
  • Confusion
  • Obsession or preoccupation with alcohol
  • Extreme anxiety or agitation when alcohol is unavailable
  • Over-excitement at the thought of getting alcohol
  • Defensiveness on the subject
  • Guilt and remorse after drinking
  • Memory loss
  • Blackouts
  • Mood swings
  • Denial

These consequences are some of the hardest for loved ones to ignore. The longer someone with an alcohol addiction goes untreated, the more intense these warning signs will become. If you or someone you know is exhibiting these personality changes, it may be time to seek professional alcohol addiction treatment.

Personal History Can Be a Warning

Often, a person’s personal history can set the stage for the development of a substance use disorder:

  • A close biological relative with any substance use disorder
  • Childhood exposure to substance abuse
  • Past traumatic experience
  • Experimenting with alcohol at a young age
  • Previous substance misuse issues of any kind
  • Environmental exposure

While these events are unavoidable, they can play a role in the development of an alcohol use disorder. If you have experienced any of these factors or are currently living with them, it’s essential to be aware of your drinking habits and seek help if necessary.

Concerning Signs of Problematic Drinking

Often, an individual living with addiction will try to hide the evidence of their drinking. But as the disease progresses, even that becomes of secondary importance to their real priority—getting more alcohol.

  • Empty liquor, wine, or beer bottles or cans
  • Alcohol containers are hidden throughout their house, car, or office
  • Carrying alcohol with them secretly in a thermos or flask
  • Unrepaired damage to their vehicle or home
  • Only hanging out with friends to drink
  • Unpaid bills or repossessions
  • Missing or unaccounted-for money

Most of these warning signs are not, in and of themselves, definitive proof of alcohol abuse. However, when several of these signs exist, then that is a strong suggestion that the person may have a drinking problem. Alcohol addiction is a progressive, incurable disease. It won’t go away on its own, and without intervention, it will get worse. A person struggling with addiction needs timely and effective professional treatment for alcohol abuse if they are to learn how to live a stable, productive life.

Call Northpoint Washington to Get Help Now

Recognizing these alcohol abuse warning signs is the first step to helping yourself or someone you know get treatment immediately. At Northpoint Washington, we provide evidence-based alcohol addiction treatment programs that can help individuals recover from alcohol use disorder and live a healthy, fulfilling life in recovery. Our compassionate and experienced team is dedicated to supporting each person’s unique journey toward sobriety. Contact Northpoint Washington online or call 888.450.2153 now to get help at our Edmonds, WA, treatment center.