Alcohol abuse is one of the most common addictions out there. It affects people from all walks of life, no matter what race, religion, sex or socio-economic background. Access to alcohol is in abundance, and much of our social structure is themed around pubs, bars, clubs and speakeasies.
But there’s a difference between a social drinker and an alcoholic. A big difference. Social drinkers don’t depend on alcohol like an alcoholic might. They don’t crave a beverage to ‘take the edge off’, and they certainly don’t go out of their way to get hold of a drink in their hands.
Unfortunately, the types of behaviors that alcoholics express are often subtle, and it can be tricky to spot the difference between an active drinker and an addicted drinker.
Here are the 5 top signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse, and what you can do to help.
1. Drinking at inappropriate times
Socially, it is more often than not acceptable to indulge in a beverage after 5pm. One key behavior of an alcoholic is regularly drinking before this socially acceptable time. As well as a time for drinking, there’s also a place for it. Drinking at church, at work or in a car in a parking lot are all sure-fire signs of alcohol dependence, and its likely time to intervene.
Drinking is a limited luxury good, and it must be treated as such. While we might wish for a cool beverage during that summer lunch on a Wednesday, a non-alcoholic will likely choose to refrain. An addicted person, however, may struggle to implement the same level of willpower.
2. Changes in social groups
Another sign of alcohol abuse is a change in social groups. Addiction is a lifestyle, and consequently an alcoholic will likely choose friends that fit into this way of life. If you find a loved one is now socialising with ‘the wrong crowd’ it might be time to consider taking the next step.
3. Experiencing increased financial problems
Alcohol costs money. What’s more, constant drinking will impair good decisions, good judgement and responsibility. A key sign of alcohol abuse, then, is an increase in financial difficulties.
Perhaps a person loses their job, or they deplete their savings but have nothing tangible to show for it – alcoholism is an expensive addiction, and an alcoholic will likely prioritise their finances on alcohol above all else.
4. Increased lethargy, depression, or other emotional issues
A good sign that a person is abusing alcohol is to examine a change in their mental capacity. Are they more apathic about life? Have they given up hobbies and activities they once used to love? Are they showing signs of severe mood swings or other emotional turmoil?
Alcohol abuse is mentally taxing. Not only will it cause greater mood swings, more unhappiness and increased lethargy, it’ll also reduce memory function, cause a person to gain or lose weight quite rapidly, and may even cause nausea and blackouts.
Yo-yoing refers to the process of constantly drinking and then stopping, over and over again. In short, an alcohol abuser will likely drink until they blackout, wake up and express that they are ‘done’ and they won’t drink again, and then eventually give in to willpower as cravings begin to form.
Yo-yoing is one of the most certain signs of alcohol abuse. As a loved one, you’ll have likely approached a person about their drinking habits prior to experiencing this type of behavior. If drinking persists, it’s time to find professional help.
Alcohol abuse: what to do next
It can be tough to know when the right time to intervene is. Alcohol abuse is emotionally exhausting to deal with, and it can lead to disastrous consequences, not just for the alcoholic but for those around them, too.
Seeking the right help as early as possible, then, is the best way to mitigate these consequences, and it’s the best way to ensure that an addiction is dealt with as proactively as possible, rather than when it’s completely out of control.
To find out more about how Tikvah Lake Recovery can help you or your loved one with alcohol abuse, contact our admissions office today.