Alcoholism Symptoms


Alcoholism symptoms, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), include “continuous or periodic impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking, most notably denial.” Here is a very helpful self-test you can take to determine whether or not you need to get some help.

For someone just beginning to assess their drinking, these self-assessments of alcoholism symptoms are very valuable because you can do them in the privacy of your own home. Alcoholics Anonymous also has a good self-assessment of alcoholism symptoms. Once you’ve assessed your symptoms of alcoholism, you can determine whether or not you are developing a problem with drinking that could require professional help.

Typical Alcoholism Symptoms

For many people, moderate drinking is not a problem. They are able to have a couple of drinks without any adverse consequences to their physical, social, or work life. In general, you should consider these self-assessments if any of the following symptoms of alcoholism apply to you:

  • Others have expressed concern about the amount of alcohol you drink.
  • Once you start drinking, you have trouble stopping until you are drunk.
  • You have felt the need to hide your alcohol from others.
  • You make rules for yourself about how much or how often you can drink.
  • You have had “closed doors” or missed opportunities due to alcohol such as a job, relationship, promotion, etc.
  • You have had legal or relational problems because of alcohol.
  • You find yourself not wanting to participate in things that do not involve alcohol or you have less fun when alcohol is not involved.
  • You find that it takes a lot of alcohol to give you a buzz compared to the amount that used to be required for the same feeling. 
  • You feel more like yourself when you’re drinking than when you are sober.

Answering yes to one of the above items does not necessarily mean that you need professional assistance, but it may mean that you are headed in that direction. If you are concerned, it is always wise to speak with a professional like a licensed counselor or psychologist. They can answer your questions in a confidential setting where you are still fully in control.

Alcoholism Symptoms

Common Myths About Alcoholism Symptoms

If you believe any of the following to be true, it is recommended that you ask a trusted loved one who isn’t afraid to speak the truth or a professional because these are common lies that alcoholics tell themselves and believe. It is not safe to believe yourself without a second opinion. The common myths are:

  • If I want to stop drinking, I can do so any time. I just don’t want to stop right now.
  • My drinking is not hurting anyone else so there’s no reason to stop. I can do what I want.
  • Alcoholics drink every day.
  • If I were really an alcoholic, I would have lost my job by now.
  • Being an alcoholic is not a real drug addiction like an addiction to heroin or cocaine.
  • Alcoholics drink heavy liquors like vodka or whiskey. I only drink wine/beer so I cannot possibly be an alcoholic.

When to Seek Help

Admitting that you may be developing a dependence on alcohol is a hard thing to do. However, it is best to deal with it now rather than waiting until a bigger issue develops as a result of your drinking. One of the reasons it is hard to admit is because people do not want to think about living a sober life without any alcohol. It may seem impossible or boring to someone who is used to drinking. However, for someone who has symptoms of alcoholism, a sober life will pay much bigger rewards than a life that spirals into true alcohol dependence. It is better to seek help as soon as possible.

If you answered “yes” to the bullet points above or to many items on a self-assessment, it would be good to speak with your doctor or a licensed addiction specialist to brainstorm the next step for you, a step that meets your individual needs.





More than alcoholism symptoms on our effects of alcoholism page

Alcoholism home page



Written - 2015