ExecutiveChronicles | 9 Warning Signs Of Alcohol Use Disorder | We have all shared some drinks with friends when we are celebrating a birthday, had a long week at work, or when we need a pick-me-up after a breakup. But when does drinking alcohol become a disorder?
Many people won’t know how to answer this question, which is one contributing factor that starts the disorder. Well, one thing is sure. The casual drink or two we occasionally have doesn’t qualify, and alcohol isn’t the villain in this story.
More often than not, those around us notice that there could be a deeper issue that underlines the misuse of alcohol. There are some warning signs that friends and family will see for someone with an alcohol use disorder:
The Person Denies Their Issues
Everyone has struggles that they need to deal with daily. It depends on how we handle the stress, and there are lovely outlets to use that would help us cope. Unfortunately, some people choose to use alcohol as a coping mechanism, which could turn their whole world upside down.
Others may notice that the person is having difficulty with situations they go through, but they would sometimes deny it vehemently when asked about it. The denial comes from fear, where they don’t want to face their troubles or ignorance, believing that they can sort it out themselves.
Those closest to them would usually suggest that they go for alcohol addiction treatment, but the person may shut down the idea and dismiss any offered help. They simply don’t see the effect that the alcohol use disorder has on their lives, although it may be blatantly clear to others.
Denial is a significant hindrance to overcome when treating this disorder. Once the realization is there, the person addicted to alcohol responds better to the suggestions of people that care for them and want to assist them.
Hiding Their Drinking
Addicts of any kind are excellent at hiding their behaviors and habits from the world. They would find ingenious ways of hiding the alcohol or how much they were drinking. From putting the bottles into household food containers to sticking a bottle into the boot of their car, they’ll find a way to have their sip.
People in their lives may notice that something seems off, but they can’t place what bothers them. A person with the disorder could sneak off and disappear for extended periods, like going to the corner store for bread and milk, but only showing up again hours later.
It becomes challenging for their family to see the person being deceitful, but they feel hopeless, helpless, and discouraged. They want to help the addict, but getting them the help they need isn’t always straightforward with their denial and deceptive ways.
Drinking During The Day
There’s a term for alcoholics looking to the bottle during the day, people often refer to it as “day drinking”. Although it doesn’t necessarily only happen during the day, it suggests that the person is drinking alcohol when others won’t, like at the office.
With addicts being so adept at hiding their habits, they would sneak alcohol to the office, parties, and other functions without many people noticing. They want to feed their addiction while seeming as usual as possible.
Usually, when their drinking has reached this point, it could already be a dire situation. It shows that the person can’t go without their drink and is a telltale sign of addiction.
They Seem Intoxicated Often
Despite the person’s best efforts to look sober, people they encounter would still notice that they are intoxicated. The person with the alcohol use disorder may reek of alcohol, sway when moving, slip and fall often, or seem disorientated.
Intoxications aren’t difficult to spot, and the fact that they try to hide them makes others feel disrespected and disappointed in them. One of the signs to look out for that may seem benign at first would be their experiences with memory loss or blackouts.
Alcohol numbs areas of the brain that we need for critical thinking. It’s what they want, but it comes to failing to remember important details like birthdays or casual conversations. Slurred speech during these conversations is a common occurrence, and it’s visible to everyone around them.
A very well-known sign that someone has too much to drink is that they’re nauseated and could throw up. The alcohol could embarrass the addict’s close acquaintances, and they would get sick in public while seemingly not being able to control it.
Changes In Their Behavior
Someone with addiction seems to change their personalities like a chameleon. They behave in ways they haven’t before and seem more secretive. In their need to fuel their drinking, they often isolate themselves or cut themselves off from family and friends.
Addicts struggle to balance daily life with their desperation for the next chug of alcohol. To hide the guilt of the disorder, they would have unfounded excuses for their drinking. For example, they would audibly profess that they only have one or two to help them relax.
Because alcohol takes priority, they forget about hobbies and interests while all of their time, effort, and attention go into keeping the unwanted feelings at bay. Things they were once passionate about would become seemingly unimportant to them.
Extreme Mood Fluctuations
Noticing extreme mood fluctuations is another sign that people can’t miss regarding alcohol use disorder. Frequent ups and downs cause them to drink more while becoming more unstable.
They can lash out at family and friends, threaten to leave, become aggressive, or be lost in depression for days on end. These mood fluctuations indicate a more severe problem that addicts need to address, and alcohol is just the avenue of escape from the turmoil they feel inside.
Alcohol use disorder often has roots in extreme emotions that addicts carry from childhood. Although they believe they have found a “cure” for these terrible feelings, they would add to it by drinking.
The person would feel trapped inside a constantly revolving trap of emotions, including anger, guilt, shame, and embarrassment, that would cause them to drink more. After they realize that they had once again begun to feel this way, the drinking starts again.
It’s tough to break this cycle of emotions, and most alcohol use disorder patients would need help to find new ways of coping with and successfully navigating through these feelings. Professional help would be the best option for them to resolve these repressive situations that occurred throughout their lives.
Physical Health Seems To Decline
Along with the typical signs of intoxication, there may be a noticeable decline in the person’s physical health. It could be very alarming to those who care for them, and when they exhibit these symptoms, it’s clear how damaging their addiction is.
Weight gain or weight loss would be one of the first things to look for when observing them. The apparent increase could come from overworked body systems like their liver, which enlarges significantly in most cases. They may also lose weight due to not eating and only drinking.
The liver is supposed to assist the body in getting rid of toxic substances in the blood, and with constant excessive alcohol use, the liver just can’t keep up anymore. This clever organ can repair itself if there’s minor damage, but the prolonged nature of alcohol misuse and the large amounts of alcohol they consume makes it very difficult.
A person addicted to alcohol’s blood pressure, heart, and circulatory system take on some strain. Alcohol dehydrates the body meaning the body’s water levels decrease rapidly. The drop in fluid pressure could add tension to the heart that wants to increase its output to compensate. Heart attack, stroke, and other conditions could develop as a result.
Our brains are susceptible to changes in the body’s functioning, and alcohol could damage the brain cells with long-term use. The addict may struggle to do critical thinking and regress in some functional areas. Other areas of brain function that may be affected are concentration, focus, attention, and decision-making abilities.
There may be visible changes to their libido, which is something their partners would notice. They could lose interest in intimacy which has devastating effects on their partner’s mental health, believing that they could be the reason for the person not to pay attention to their advances.
Due to a loss of muscle coordination and functioning, the person with the alcohol use disorder may not be able to maintain a physical relationship with a significant other. It could, in turn, cause more conflict between the partners.
They Lose Control When Drinking
After using alcohol, a person can quickly lose control and do things they wouldn’t normally do. Their lack of control of their actions leads to more severe problems, including frequent trouble with the law.
Drunk drivers cause serious accidents that could claim someone’s life. The intoxicated person would show blatant disregard for the road rules, drive recklessly fast, or weave across the road between lanes. Even if there are no other parties involved in the accidents they cause, they may end up in the hospital themselves. Worst case scenario sees someone losing their life in the process.
Impulsive behavior doesn’t start or end with drunk driving. The addict’s lowered inhibitions put them in harm’s way when walking home, getting into drunken brawls, or having unprotected physical contact with others.
They would stay away from work, engage in dangerous activities, and seem out of control with everything they do. Alcohol would give them false courage that compels them to do things that seemingly have no rhyme or reason.
Resorting to physical violence is another massive aspect of some alcoholics’ lives. Family members like spouses and children get the raw end of the deal when they are around the addict. The intoxication leaves the person with alcohol use disorder to feel frustrated, angry, and sometimes confused, needing to take these frustrations out on someone or something.
After losing control and usually sobering up some, they would profusely apologize for their behavior. The alcoholic’s loved ones forgive them for most of their transgressions, making it easier to continue this behavior.
Prioritizing Drinking Over Responsibilities
Obligations and responsibilities for a person with alcohol use disorder differ from those others may have. Instead of focusing on achieving their job goals, paying their bills, and looking after their children, they prioritize their drinking.
There are constant daily struggles with finances, and they would neglect payments for rent, car payments, and accounts. The addict would ignore child support contributions, leading to tensions, court appearances, and deteriorating relationships.
A boss or colleague would notice that their work performance is taking a dip, which may lead to them losing their positions at the company. Dwindling interest in meaningful work-related tasks may seem out of character and indicates to employers that something is wrong.
Alcohol becomes the most critical thing in their lives and trumps all other obligations. They seem selfish when they only live for the next drink, and those around them can’t comprehend the extent they’re going through to feed this addiction.
Alcohol use disorder is a mental illness that affects every area of the addict’s life. A trail of destruction usually follows them, leaving their close connections to pick up the broken pieces behind them.
Unfortunately, the road to recovery is sometimes long and littered with setbacks and second chances, but the result is well worth all the effort. With the proper support from their nearest and dearest and an excellent recovery program, the disorder is treatable with great success.
By knowing what to look out for, those around them can assist the person addicted to alcohol find the right way to deal with their stress and encourage them to use positive coping mechanisms, like spending more time with the people they love.
Alcohol use disorder isn’t a death sentence when treated in time, but it could have fatal consequences if left unchecked. Have enough hope to trust the process, enough courage to see it through, and enough humility to start mending broken aspects of your life by seeking help today.
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