5 Signs Your Loved One Has an Alcohol Problem

 In Addiction

Alcohol abuse affects millions of lives around the United States. Distinguishing the symptoms surrounding alcohol abuse can sometimes prove to be challenging for loved ones. However, once alcohol abuse is unearthed, it is important that your loved one seeks help immediately. Treatment and recovery are never out of reach.

Alcohol Use Disorder

Any pattern of misusing alcohol can be considered alcohol use disorder, according to Mayo Clinic. This includes a pattern of using alcohol that causes problems with control and experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol use that puts your safety or the safety of others at risk can also be a factor in alcohol use disorder. There are certain levels to alcohol use disorder, including binge drinking and alcoholism.

Distinguishing a pattern of unhealthy alcohol use may be difficult for friends and family of someone suffering. Depending on the person, alcohol can have different effects and cause different symptoms. It is also important to note that someone can drink occasionally and not have alcohol use disorder. Any instance of drinking alcohol does not mean a disorder. However, unhealthy drinking habits should be monitored. Early prevention and education is often key.

What is Alcoholism?

Alcohol abuse can lead to serious health consequences, as well as lead to someone developing an addiction. Alcoholism falls under the category of addiction and is considered a chronic brain disease that requires treatment. Someone struggling with an addiction has a disease because drugs and alcohol directly affect how the brain functions.

When drugs and alcohol enter the body, they cause the brain to act abnormally in several different ways. However, they primarily affect the brain’s reward pathway. This disrupts the chemicals in your brain, which can cause various side effects.

When your brain registers something as positive, it releases dopamine. This feeling is what some people refer to as a euphoric high. However, when drugs or alcohol are involved, the levels of dopamine released are abnormally high. This can cause the brain to continue seeking out more and more alcohol, in order to achieve this same feeling. Since this is an unnatural response, there will not be anything other than the alcohol that can match this feeling.

How Does Alcoholism Start?

There is no set timeline for alcohol abuse will turn into alcoholism. Each person will react differently to alcohol and may not experience the same symptoms. The effects on brain chemistry can differ from person to person. Development of alcoholism can depend on several different factors. These factors can include genetics, environment, medical history, and underlying mental health issues.

Signs Your Loved One is Suffering From a Drinking Problem

1. They are Engaging in Dangerous Activity

Your loved one may be engaging in criminal activity and breaking the law. These behaviors could include drinking while driving, stealing, or domestic abuse. Often, these behaviors occur do to changes being made in the brain due to the alcohol. Alcohol abuse can cause memory lapses, mood swings, and aggressive tendencies. Your loved one may have even begun stealing from you. You may notice expensive items missing from your home or money disappearing. They may be lying about where they have been or who they have been hanging out with.

2. They Have Strained Relationships

Strained relationships is also a sign your loved one may be suffering from a drinking problem. Those closest to the person with alcoholism will often witness what this disease is doing firsthand. This may mean that friends and family members have been lied to, put in danger’s way, or received backlash. The person suffering may begin to isolate themselves. This could cause a breakup with their significant other or a divorce. They may stop attending family functions or answering the phone when they know who is calling.

3. They are Not Meeting Obligations

Another sign is that your loved one may not be meeting obligations. These obligations could pertain to work, school, or their personal life. You may notice that their work performance is dwindling, they show a lack of motivation, or they were fired from their job. Their usually good grades begin to slip or they begin receiving suspensions from their school. They may show difficulty taking care of their pets, their children, or even themselves.

4. They are Drinking Alone

If you notice your loved one is drinking alone, this may be a sign that they have an alcohol use disorder. Drinking alone is often a sign of deeper psychological issues, which could be causing the person to engage in self-medicating behaviors. Alcohol, while it could alleviate feelings temporarily, will end up making the problem worse and causing other issues alongside it. Those who are suffering sometimes also feel a desire to isolate themselves, which could be due to underlying mental health issues.

Shot made while filming for yesHEis project
Photographer: Nik Shuliahin | Source: Unsplash

5. They are Unable to Stop

A person who is not able to stop drinking, although they have expressed that they wish to stop is a sign of alcohol abuse. Your loved one may have told you that they only plan on having a few drinks out with you. However, you notice that each time they say that, they exceed the limit. They may have even come forward and say they think something may be wrong, but yet continue to drink. This pattern of being unable to stop is directly related to experiencing alcoholism.

What are The Next Steps?

Your loved one may be open to help, but most likely they are not. They may be experiencing a stage known as denial. This stage is often very difficult for both those suffering and loved ones of that person. Have a conversation with your loved one and express your support and understanding. Never use a judgmental or negative tone. It is important to remain positive and calm. Even if your loved one refuses help, keep the conversation open and ongoing.

Although five signs were listed here, there are many signs that could help to determine if someone is suffering from alcohol abuse. If you notice any abnormal behavior, that is reason enough to dig deeper. If you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol use disorder, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. There are various treatment programs that can help your loved one down their unique road to recovery.

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