We all prefer prevention to cure. Prevention is easier, safer, cheaper and less stressful in a lot of ways. However, when it comes to alcohol addiction, prevention is often impossible because we don’t really see the problem until it has already evolved into something very serious. The early signs of alcoholism can be very subtle, and they often go unnoticed until the symptoms have gotten out of control. Here are seven early signs you or someone you know may be addicted to alcohol:
- Drinking Alone | For casual drinkers, alcohol consumption is often a social activity engaged in with friends, acquaintances and family. Secret drinkers, however, drink alone or before or after going out. The National Institutes of Health’s Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse Fact Sheet lists drinking alone as a warning sign of alcoholism. As alcohol use increases regularly, a person needs higher amounts to get the same effect. So the alcoholic often drinks before or after going to events involving alcohol to be at the same level as friends.
- Secret Drinking | The National Institutes of Health also lists hiding alcohol use as a warning sign. Behaviors associated with this symptom may include hiding bottles of alcohol around the house, secretly putting alcohol in everyday drinks like coffee, soda or fruit juice, or drinking in secret.
- Withdrawals | Unlike hangovers, withdrawals are the reaction to the lack of alcohol rather than too much alcohol. If you start to feel irritable, tired, depressed, nauseous or anxious when you haven’t had a drink, there’s a possibility you’re going through a withdrawal. Other signs include having trouble sleeping, losing your appetite and experiencing trembling or shakiness.
- Drinking is the Center of Your Attention | Are most of your social events centered around drinking? If you find out that an event you were going to doesn’t involve drinking, do you feel disappointed and no longer want to attend? Do you feel like the only way you can enjoy yourself in a social situation is by having alcohol in your system? If you answered yes to any of these, you may be an alcoholic.
- Isolation and Loss of Interest | As alcohol becomes more of a focus for the alcoholic, he or she tends to ignore other areas of life. The alcoholic may avoid people in order to hide their drinking, refusing to attend outings or gatherings with family and friends. They also may lose interest in things they once loved or enjoyed.
- Rationalizing Your Drinking | Rationalizations are really just lies you tell yourself to feel better about your actions. Early signs of alcoholism involves constant justification of drinking and the results of drinking. For example, one may regularly say, “Well, it’s a Friday so I deserve this drink!” and say almost the exact same thing on a Monday. No matter what day or occasion it is, alcoholics often feel the need to justify and rationalize their drinking.
- The Inability to Stop Once You Start | If you always finish a bottle of whiskey once it’s opened or drink all the beer in the house once you’ve had one, it’s another warning sign you aren’t in full control of your drinking and you may have a serious problem that requires our addiction treatment.