Ten Warning Signs of Alcoholism

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited:  JANUARY 16 ,
2021 
| 3 Sources


Being able to identify the ten warning signs of alcoholism can be an effective first step toward recovery for those struggling with alcohol addiction. It's important to note that these warnings signs are not exhaustive and just because someone engages in one or more of these behaviors does not mean they necessarily have a problem with alcohol.

However, if you or someone you know exhibits several different warning signs for an extended period of time it may indicate that alcohol has become too big a factor in their life and they need help overcoming their addiction to alcohol.

Here are ten warning signs of alcoholism to watch out for. If you notice these signs in yourself or in a loved one, it’s time to get professional help.

1. Withdrawing from family and friends.

The alcoholic may become annoyed when family and friends express concern or disapproval about the amount of alcohol they consume. They may get into frequent arguments with friends or family members.

Alcoholics also begin to spend more time drinking and less time socializing with friends. When they do socialize with others, they tend to socialize with other drinkers. But they often drink alone and in secret. They plan their recreational time around drinking, and spend less time with family and friends.

2. Lying about how much they drink.

Lying about how much they drink is a common sign of an alcoholic. Alcoholics will often drink in secret, and lie about how much they consume. They are aware that they are drinking more than is socially acceptable and that they may be drinking too much, but are unable to help themselves.

They may believe that because they don't have a "problem," no one else does. They often become defensive when confronted about their drinking and will deny it, or rationalize it by saying things like:

"How much did I drink anyway? It wasn't a lot!" or "It's just beer!" or "What's the big deal? I can stop drinking any time I want to."

Alcoholics will often have a lot of difficulty admitting that they have a drinking problem. They may tell you that other people drink more than they do, or that others have problems with alcohol while denying their own. Sometimes alcoholics are the last to recognize that they have a problem with drinking.

3. Drinking to “get going” in the morning.

This is a sure fire sign of an alcoholic. It is one of the most important of the ten warning signs of alcoholism. If someone needs a drink to “get going” in the morning, or if they need a drink to make it through the day, they have a definite drinking problem.

4. Drinking to calm down.

This is another important one of the alcoholism 10 signs. If a person needs a drink to calm down or deal with stress, they definitely have a drinking problem.

5. Problems at work or school.

Another of the alcoholism 10 signs is problems at work or school due to drinking. The alcoholic may be late to work or may miss work altogether. And the alcoholic continues this behavior even though they know they are putting their job in jeopardy. They may end up losing their job. They may have difficulty maintaining stable employment.

6. Doing things they regret while drinking.

Yet another of the ten warning signs of alcoholism is doing things they regret while drinking. Alcohol lowers inhibitions, so people may do things when intoxicated that they would not do when sober. Drunkenness often leads to violence or aggression, accidents, and risky behavior.

The alcoholic may be aware of the things they were doing or saying while intoxicated, but not remember them clearly. They may apologize for their behavior but then rationalize it, telling you that they were not really to blame.

They may even deny having said or done the things you know they did. This is another of the ten warning signs of alcoholism.

7. Getting in fights while drinking.

Getting in fights or displaying violent behavior while drinking is another of the alcoholism 10 signs. Not all alcoholics are violent, but there are behavior changes associated with alcohol use.

Remember, alcohol lowers inhibitions and makes people less inhibited. This can lead to aggressive behavior or violence.

Violence while drinking is one of the most common ways in which alcoholism begins to take a toll on others. Alcoholics that begin getting into fights may eventually start hurting family members, friends, and strangers they encounter while out drinking. 

ten-warning-signs-of-alcoholism

8. Engaging in risky behavior while drunk.

Alcoholics may not realize how impaired they are and may engage in risky behavior while drunk, like driving a car, operating heavy machinery, or swimming. They may also have accidents while under the influence, such as falling.

9. Developing physical tolerance.

Another of the ten warning signs of alcoholism is needing more and more alcohol to get the same effect. Alcoholics can consume large quantities of alcohol without appearing drunk. And in order to get a “buzz,” they have to drink more and more alcohol. That’s because they’ve developed a tolerance to alcohol.

 All alcoholics will develop some degree of tolerance to alcohol. Once you have a tolerance to alcohol, you're more likely to experience withdrawal symptoms if you cut down on or stop drinking altogether.

10. Having “blackouts” while drinking.

This may be the most serious of all the ten warning signs of alcoholism. Usually only serious alcoholics have “blackouts,” times when they do or say things while intoxicated that they do not recall later on once they sober up.

Not every alcoholic will have all of these alcoholism 10 signs, but if a person has even one of them, it is a sign that they have a drinking problem. They should get an assessment by a professional to see if they need treatment for alcoholism. 

The good news is that alcoholism is a treatable condition.

Even if a person meets only one of the ten warning signs, they should seek help for their drinking problem before things get worse. Persistent or worsening of these conditions can lead to more serious problems and recovery may be more difficult as well. Contact a treatment provider today and stop alcoholism before it gets worse.

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


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