Perhaps the most common sign of alcohol abuse is that one drinks every day, and never really goes without a drink of some type. Morning drinks are also a common sign of alcohol abuse and dependency. Some alcoholics can’t start the day without a drink. Another sign might be that once they drink one can of beer, they find the need to finish off an entire six-pack, or one glass of wine and they drink the entire bottle.
When someone gets a DUI, or more than one, it’s becoming apparent they have a drinking problem that is getting in the way of their decision making and normal functioning (cite: 1).
When someone drinks and then gets belligerent even with close friends and family, this can be a sign of a drinking problem and a sign of other internal stress-related problems for which alcohol is being used.
When someone’s social events all seem to be centered around alcohol, it’s a good indication they might have a drinking problem, or an alcohol dependency issue.
There is a Difference Between Abusing Alcohol and Dependency
Abusing alcohol can include teenage binge drinking, which is very hard on the body, and an activity for which they will pay dearly the next morning with a hangover. Still, if a teenager did this every 4-months let’s say at a “rager party” but didn’t care to drink in between, they are not dependent on alcohol or an alcoholic, but they are abusing alcohol. Of course, if this becomes a common occurrence and they start drinking daily, they are well on their way to a serious dependency problem.
Likewise, an adult who rarely drinks, but gets drunk and drives a car, or starts a fight, we’d all consider this an abuse of alcohol. However, since they don’t drink often, they probably aren’t alcoholics, unless they’ve had a problem with dependency in the past.
We often associate alcoholics with unacceptable social behavior, but in reality, you can have people who drink who exhibit unacceptable behavior who are not dependent on alcohol. Just as you can have a functioning alcoholic who never steps out of line socially, has a hangover, or becomes unruly while drinking (cite: 2).
Alcoholism is a disease, it’s called; Alcohol Use Disorder. It’s serious, it destroys your health, re-wires your brain, and eventually can ruin your life. It’s serious. If you think you might have a drinking problem, look for the signs, then take action. If you try to stop, but can’t, then it is time to get help.
If you know of a friend or loved one who has a serious problem with alcohol and is an alcoholic, maybe it’s time to help them confront their problem and get the help they need.
1.) “Substance Abuse vs. Substance Dependence: Implications for the Management of the DUI Offender,” by William L. White published in Abuse Dependency Distinction, 2007. WilliamWhitePapers (dot) com.
2.) Book: “Psychological Theories of Drinking and Alcoholism,” edited by Kenneth E. Leonard, Howard T. Blane, The Guilford Press, New York, NY, 1999, 461 pages, ISBN: 1-57230-410-3.