Alcoholic Symptoms

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited:  October 15,
| 4 Sources

It is important to recognize the alcoholic symptoms and signs of alcohol abuse. It is also important to understand that there is a difference between alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence.

Alcohol abuse means you have a drinking problem. You drink too much on a regular basis and your drinking puts you and/or others at risk. However, you are able to exercise some control over your drinking.

Despite the fact that you still have some control, abusing alcohol is only one step away from alcohol dependence. If you are abusing alcohol, it’s time to get help before the situation gets worse.

Yes, you may be able to stop on your own at this point, and if you can, great. But it’s a great time to consider something like Alcoholics Anonymous. The support will do you wonders.

Alcohol dependence means that you are an alcoholic. You no longer have control over your drinking. You can’t stop even though you experience severe consequences due to your drinking.

You can’t quit on your own, and you almost certainly need more help than a 12-Step program can provide. Going to AA is still a good idea, but you’ll need professional help as well. You should have an assessment by an alcohol and drug counselor to determine the level of treatment you need. You may need inpatient care, or intensive outpatient treatment may be enough.

Now, here are the signs of trouble you should watch out for.

Signs of Alcohol Abuse

Some signs of alcohol abuse include the following:

  • Financial problems, such as paying bills late or bill collectors calling you.
  • Health problems related to drinking (and continuing to drink anyway).
  • Legal problems, such as driving while intoxicated (DWI).
  • Risky behavior, putting yourself and/or others in danger.
  • Missing work or school due to drinking or being “hung over”.
  • Planning your day around drinking.
  • Social activities revolve around drinking.
  • Drinking alone or in secret.
  • Lying about your drinking.
  • Feeling guilty about your drinking.
  • People tell you that you drink too much or you have arguments with family or friends about your drinking.

You don’t need to have all of these symptoms in order to suffer from alcohol abuse. If several of these things apply to you, then you have a drinking problem. And these signs of alcohol abuse are often precursors to alcohol dependence.


Alcoholic Symptoms

Alcoholic symptoms include all of the signs of alcohol abuse. Some other alcoholic symptoms and signs of alcohol dependence include the following:

  • Developing a tolerance to alcohol, meaning that you have to drink more and more in order to get the same effect.
  • Drinking more than you intended; once you start, you can’t stop.
  • Having “drinking rituals,” for instance a drink every day after dinner, and becoming distressed if this ritual is questioned or disturbed.
  • Feeling an overwhelming need to drink at certain times.
  • Having “blackouts” when drinking.

Once a person displays these alcoholic symptoms, they are unable to control their drinking. They will most likely need some form of treatment in order to stop.


The type of treatment an alcohol abuser or alcoholic needs depends on the extent of their problem. Someone who abuses alcohol will need a less intensive type of treatment than someone who is dependent on alcohol.

Remember, there is a difference between alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence, and alcohol dependence is more severe than alcohol abuse.

But a qualified professional counselor should do an assessment to determine the level of treatment that is appropriate.

More alcoholic symptoms on our alcoholism signs page

Alcoholism home page

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 

I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LPC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More