Many alcoholics find it extremely challenging to quit drinking on their own—a primary reason why professional addiction treatment is usually the most effective approach to achieving and maintaining long-term sobriety. The behavioral effects of alcohol often result in many wide-reaching consequences, including health problems, family conflict, and financial and legal issues. Recognizing and addressing alcohol addiction early on can prevent many of these difficulties or mitigate their harm.
Recognizing the signs of alcoholic behavior and problematic drinking in others may be easier than identifying these issues in oneself. If you suspect a loved one has an alcohol use disorder (AUD), you should confront this person but approach this subject cautiously. Many alcoholics are unprepared to accept the reality of their problem when first confronted by others, even if drinking has had severe adverse consequences on their lives.
Hallmark Signs of a Drinking Problem
If you are reading this, it is likely that you already suspect that a person you know—who may be yourself—has a drinking problem. The following list includes typical alcoholic behaviors that may help to confirm your suspicions.
An AUD may exist if the individual in question has experienced multiple instances of the following:
- A history of attempts to stop drinking or cut back that have been unsuccessful
- Blackouts or loss of memory while drinking
- Continual alcohol use despite the incurrence of problems with relationships, profession, or other vital areas of one’s life
- Consumption of more alcohol or for a more prolonged period than intended
- The need to make excuses in order to drink
- Development of tolerance to alcohol
- Legal or financial issues related to alcohol abuse
- Neglect of personal responsibilities or activities in place of drinking
- Deception and secretiveness about drinking habits and hiding alcohol
Once you suspect you or a loved one have an alcohol problem, you may be able to confirm it by consulting a doctor, therapist, or addiction specialist for diagnosis. IF deemed appropriate, the individual will be required to undergo a comprehensive physical and psychological evaluation and answer several in-depth questions about their substance use, health, and family life that will help health professionals determine the best course of action regarding treatment.
Alcoholic Behavior Should Not Be Overlooked
When alcoholic behavior becomes readily apparent, the problem has likely existed for a considerable amount of time. Problematic drinkers tend to put a great deal of effort into hiding the extent of their alcohol addiction, and therefore, it may not be easy to identify them immediately. In the early stage, there may be very few signs and symptoms that would point to a significant problem. The outward signs of alcoholism may not become evident to others until peak use is occurring.
It may take a long time for a person to cross the line between relatively “controlled” abuse and full-blown alcoholism. For example, a person who is high-functioning and able to maintain a professional and social life successfully may do so for years until something causes them to slip over the edge and threaten to hit rock-bottom.
There are several common behaviors of a drinker that may indicate early-stage alcoholism. If you suspect that your loved one is attempting to cope with life’s challenges by drinking, this is a red flag that should not be ignored. As the condition advances, the signs of problematic drinking become more and more pronounced.
What Is Alcoholic Behavior?
Typical alcoholic behavior includes those that people engage in when their drinking has gotten entirely out of control. While alcohol use can compel many of us to take risks or behave impulsively, this may become an everyday occurrence for the problematic drinker that requires further examination.
Drinking behaviors include things that people will do while intoxicated or to obtain alcohol and avoid detection of their drinking habits. Alcohol can have a profound effect on how the brain functions, so many people have known to commit harmful, abusive, or illegal acts accidentally or intentionally while under its influence.
These behaviors may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Emotionally, physically, or verbally abusive behavior
- Drinking in secret or isolation
- Neglecting critical responsibilities regarding family, work, or school
- Getting into fights with or physically assaulting others
- Acting irrationally, saying hurtful things to others, and having no memory of these events the next day
- Driving while under the influence or riding in a car with someone else who is also impaired
- Engaging in risky sexual activity such as having unprotected sex
- Risking the safety of themselves and others
- Illicit activity that may have legal consequences
Indeed, there is a definite effect of alcoholism on behavior. It can change an individual’s personality and the way they act. Many crimes that are committed involve alcohol abuse, and it’s not uncommon for those who do so to regret their actions later when they become sober and have to face the consequences.
Moreover, even people who are usually calm and emotionally stable can become agitated, confused, aggressive, and violent when drinking excessively. Alcohol can adversely affect a person’s personality, motivations, priorities, mental and physical health, and ability to respond to stress appropriately.
High-Functioning Alcoholics and Behavior
It’s important to stress that some individuals can maintain a relatively functional life as an alcoholic. The signs of alcoholism may be mostly mild in a person such as this, and that’s why it’s vitally important to improve awareness if you suspect some you love may fall into this category. These people are often able to engage in their daily lives as if their drinking issues were of little or no significance.
Many high-functioning alcoholics and occasional binge-drinkers can hold down jobs, attend to family responsibilities, and actively engage in their lives. The problem is that these individuals still face significant health risks and may be in danger of their condition progressing into something much more severe. They may be able to avoid many familial, financial, or legal effects, but may still be inflicting harm to their kidneys, liver, and other organs due to chronic, excessive drinking.
Alcoholic Behavior Identified: The Next Steps
Realizing that you or a person you love is suffering from alcohol abuse problems can be frightening, and rightfully so. However, the good news is that alcoholism, like any chronic disease, can be treated and managed using the right tools and support.
The following are steps to be taken when a substance use disorder has been positively identified:
1. Inform family and friends of the situation as soon as possible. Many alcoholics find that the support of loved ones makes the recovery process much more manageable.
2. The affected person, ideally with help from loved ones, should then take steps to participate in an addiction recovery program. This process may start with an appointment with an addiction specialist or counselor or contacting a rehab center to make reservations and determine the most appropriate course of action.
3. If the individual is not ready to accept that he or she has an alcohol problem and should seek treatment, a staged intervention may be the next step to consider. An intervention is an organized attempt to lovingly confront a loved one about their drinking or other addiction-related behaviors and encourage them to seek treatment.
Getting Help For Alcoholic Behavior
Just Believe Recovery programs are based on an evidence-based approach that features therapeutic services vital to the recovery process, including behavioral therapy, individual and family counseling, substance abuse education, group support, and more.
Our addiction specialists provide those we treat with the resources and tools they need to recover fully and enjoy long-lasting sobriety and wellness! Call us today to find out how we can help!