It is not always easy to recognize an alcohol use disorder in a loved one. People with addiction can become masters at concealing and being deceitful about the intensity of their addictive behavior.
Among the hallmark signs of a severe substance abuse problem is hiding alcohol. Not only will the alcoholic consume covertly, but they will also have secret hiding spots for alcohol. In some cases, these places may be quite creative and nearly impossible to find, but there are a few common places that many alcoholics routinely go to for concealment.
Popular hiding places include bathroom cabinets, basements, garages, closets, bags, clothes, and suitcases. They may also hide alcohol in kitchen drawers or cabinets or behind or in other items such as boxes, cans, or jars. You may also find bottles under furniture or stuffed in the cushions. Outdoors is another option, including under porches or in a shed.
The important thing is to locate the alcohol before the person realizes you are looking for it. If the individual senses that you are on to him or her, they may find different hiding spots that are even more challenging to locate.
Alcoholism Warning Signs
The following are many more warning signs that may indicate that a person is an alcoholic:
Drinking alone, especially when keeping it a secret from family and friends, shows that the individual realizes that their behavior is not normal or healthy and that others will reprimand them. It’s a subtle admission that deep down, the person knows it’s not right, and he or she the person may not even realize why they are doing it.
Look for telltale signs of being intoxicated or under the influence, although you did not actually see the individual drink. Or, they may appear to drink too little compared to how drunk they appear. In other words, they have drank much more than they have revealed.
Missing Important Events or Occasions
The person is frequently late or missing from work, school, social gatherings, etc. They may vanish for several days or insist that they were doing something or were somewhere they were not.
Alcohol abusers frequently make excuses for their drinking habits. Reasons may involve issues such as mental health disorders, day-to-day stress, or chronic pain. They may blame others around them for having to deal with relationship conflict—especially that which is a direct result of their drinking.
Drinking at Inappropriate Times
Drinking upon first waking and needing “the hair of the dog” may reflect a person’s level of dependence and unhealthy attempts to avoid a hangover or withdrawal symptoms. But, drinking may also occur for apparently no reason at random times throughout the day.
Alcoholics often drink under circumstances that they should not. These situations might include while driving a car, at work, school, or family functions, or at any time or in any place that it isn’t socially acceptable.
Isolation and Loss of Interest
As alcohol becomes an increasing obsession for the alcoholic, they often begin to neglect other parts of their life. They may avoid others to conceal their drinking, or skip out on events or gatherings with family and friends. The alcoholic may also exhibit disinterest in activities they once enjoyed, such as sports or hobbies.
Alcohol abuse and withdrawal symptoms can have a dramatic effect on a person’s thoughts, feelings, moods, and behaviors. Alcoholics are notorious for being emotionally unstable. Extreme moodiness is common, and a person may abruptly go from happy to unreasonably sad or angry. Hardcore alcoholics often experience personality changes when drinking, and bouts of crying or episodes of emotional or physical abuse toward others may occur.
Signs of alcohol intoxication are the obvious giveaway, but some are not apparent as others. Severe alcoholics may have an extremely high tolerance and may only appear a little intoxicated at levels that would cause others to be absolutely inebriated. They may be mostly functional and exhibit only minor signs, such as unusual talkativeness, slightly slurred speech, flushed skin, and bloodshot eyes.
Withdrawal symptoms can manifest hours to days after an individual has quit drinking. When they occur, he or she may appear to be shaky, sweaty, lethargic, and agitated or depressed.
Severe alcoholics may also present as being disheveled, unkempt, and unclean. This is a sign that they are singularly focused on being intoxicated, and they neglect daily aspects of personal care, such as bathing, brushing their teeth, eating properly, etc.
Memory Loss and Blackouts or “Brownouts”
Excessive alcohol use impairs a person’s short-term memory. Someone experiencing a blackout or brownout (partial loss of memory) will not remember some or all of the things they did or events that happened while they were intoxicated.
Obsession With Alcohol
An alcoholic will obsess over obtaining and drinking alcohol. The person outwardly tries to act patient, but often, it’s clear that they are irritated because they can’t drink at any given time. Most alcoholics are silently planning the next time they will be able to consume more alcohol.
An obsession with alcohol causes constant mental preoccupation that can very quickly wreak havoc on intimate relationships. Furthermore, an alcoholic may hurry through activities carelessly to make time for drinking, rather than enjoying time being sober and engaging with family and friends.
Drinking Rapidly or “Chugging”
Alcoholics will often drink rapidly or “chug” their first few drinks. They may do this to get intoxicated as fast as possible, or perhaps because their tolerance is high enough that like they need a head start. This may also be used as a way to forestall withdrawal symptoms. Some people will throw back a few drinks then go about their day as if it were completely normal.
The individual is always drinking at certain times of the day, such as after getting home from work or before bedtime. A hallmark sign of an alcoholic is that they feel the need to engage in their drinking ritual and become upset and stressed out when they are not able to do so.
Missing Money or Valuables and Excessive Spending
Addiction tends to be expensive. The addict may purchase cheap alcohol to offset some of the costs, but ultimately, it adds up. He or she may spend so much money on drinking that they have financial issues. They may then steal items, steal or borrow money, or begin to hassle others to help them obtain alcohol.
While no one behavior indicates that a person is an alcoholic for sure, the presence of several of them collectively is a powerful sign that this individual has a very severe problem. Some of these signs may be subtle, while others are more obvious. In any case, if you have witnessed this behavior in a loved one, he or she likely has an alcohol dependence and should seek treatment as soon as possible.
Getting Help for Alcoholism
Alcoholism is a chronic, lifelong disorder, but fortunately, it can be treated effectively. If you believe that you or someone you love has an alcohol use disorder, please contact us today. Just Believe Recovery offers comprehensive, evidence-based treatment programs for alcoholism that includes services beneficial for recovery. These include the following:
- Behavioral therapy
- Individual counseling
- Family therapy
- Group support
- Substance abuse education
- Relapse prevention
- Health and wellness education
- Aftercare planning
Our skilled and caring staff are dedicated to providing those we treat with the tools they need to break free from the cycle of alcohol addiction once and for all! You can end the suffering now—professional help is available!