What Do You Need to Recognize Alcohol Addiction? Awareness. Attention. Action.

how to spot an alcoholic
Recognize the signs of alcoholism. See through the shadows and save a life.


Alcohol misuse is like any other disorder. The sooner you spot its symptoms, the earlier you can seek treatment for your loved one and help him rebuild his life, love, and career. An alcohol-addicted person does not always have the physical capability or mental clarity to recognize the troubling signs of alcoholism. Some people might also want to mask alcohol use. The onus is on you to recognize the signs and save a life.

Here are 6 ways to spot a person addicted to alcohol:

1.Unusually High Tolerance to Alcohol

Unusually high tolerance to alcohol indicates chronic misuse. Look out for these signs in your loved one:

  • He usually drinks much more than others in a group.
  • He needs more drinks than others in the bunch to experience the same effects.
  • He progressively needs more drinks to obtain the same level of intoxication as before. Start tracking from now or reflect back to the time when he started drinking, and you will notice this rising trend.

2.Regularly Indulging in Risky Behavior

Alcohol impairs judgment. One drink too many makes even a rational, sensible man incapable of thinking straight or thinking things through. A person addicted to alcohol may not always have his senses about him, especially after an episode of binge drinking, to judge the risks involved in his activities. At other times, alcohol makes a person lose control over his impulses, so he engages in risky behavior.

Watch out for these signs of risky behavior:

  • Drinking before driving
  • Drinking before operating machinery
  • Stealing money from other people or objects from shops to fund drinking
  • Getting involved in alcohol-related violent activities, like fighting over alcohol
  • Exhibiting risky sexual behavior at the risk of contracting STDs
  • Mixing alcohol with other illicit drugs and/or prescription medication

3.Engaging in Secretive Behavior

Many people hide their alcohol use. They don’t want to let their loved ones know about their addiction or be bothered with questions. You should be suspicious if you notice the following signs:

  • Hiding alcohol bottles in medicine cabinets, closets, or the basement
  • Drinking alone in the room
  • Sneaking away to secluded areas at the workplace to drink
  • Lying about the number of drinks he has had or if he drank in the morning

4.Frequent and Abnormal Mood Swings

Alcohol affects the brain in many ways. Drinking alcohol leads to a surge in dopamine levels. Staying away from drinks causes dopamine levels to fall that, in turn, triggers depression and irritability. If a loved one misuses alcohol, mood swings can be a common occurrence as he alternates between drinking and abstinence.

Watch out for these signs:

  • Mood swings that range from euphoria to depression for no apparent reason
  • Irritability and anxiousness in an otherwise calm person that indicate he may be experiencing withdrawal symptoms
  • Snappiness and rudeness when rituals, like drinking every evening after getting back from work, are disrupted

5.Exhibiting the Telltale Physical Signs of Alcohol Misuse

Persons addicted to alcohol are not always intoxicated. Nor are they always swaying and struggling to stay on their feet and mumbling incoherently. But it is definitely a sign of alcoholism if a person exhibits the following physical signs frequently:

  • A flushed appearance
  • Red or blotchy skin
  • Trembling hands

6.Loss of Interest in People and Favorite Activities

Persons addicted to alcohol make drinks their focus in life. They direct their physical and mental energies towards procuring alcohol and looking for opportunities and/or hideouts to drink. They exhibit the following signs:

  • Lose interest in the activities they once used to enjoy, either because they are too physically stressed from effects of alcohol or these pastimes do not involve alcohol
  • Reduce or stop interacting with their loved ones either because they fear being discovered or can’t bear questioning
  • Prioritize alcohol over loving relationships

Contrary to popular notion, these people are not always broke. Nor are they always between jobs. High-functioning alcoholics may hold responsible positions at the workplace, raise families, and take part in social activities where alcohol is not involved. In fact, they may not exhibit any of the signs of alcoholism mentioned above because they can mask usage and/or withdrawal symptoms. But sooner or later, alcohol will catch up with them. So if you have a hunch, be more vigilant around these people.

Meanwhile, don’t wait for a friend or a family member to show all the signs of alcoholism. Every person is different; they react to alcohol differently. If you suspect something, investigate closely and seek professional help.

What Do You Need to Recognize Alcohol Addiction? Awareness. Attention. Action.

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