How Can You Tell If Someone Has a Drinking Problem?


It is not always easy to recognize if someone has a drinking problem or if they are just a social drinker who occasionally has a little too much. There are however some questions that can be asked to help determine if there is a problem with a person’s alcohol consumption. Furthermore, it isn’t possible to prove someone is a problem drinker unless they admit to having a problem themselves.

Alcohol abuse is something that affects a growing number of Americans, with treatment centers reporting that around 41% of admissions every year are alcohol-related. There are now around 15,000 rehab centers like Elevate offering alcohol recovery programs in the US.

Alcoholism is an illness that develops over time but has some general characteristics that become more noticeable as the person continues to use. Here, we outline some of the questions that people can use to determine whether someone they know or are close to is developing problems with alcohol.

First Question to Ask: Cutting Back on Drinking

It is always wise to choose the right setting to ask a person about their alcohol consumption so that you don’t appear confrontational. However, if the time is right a good question to ask is whether they have considered cutting down on their drinking.

The difficulty is that the person in question may not answer the question honestly, which in itself is sometimes an indication of trouble beneath the surface. On this basis, if the person responds with a “no,” it doesn’t really mean anything but if they admit “yes,” this is much more likely to be a more truthful answer.

As people develop problems with alcohol, they become aware of their drinking becoming an issue. It will begin to play on their mind that they are drinking at times when others are working or studying and that their behavior is stepping out of their norm. Answering yes to having considered reducing alcohol intake is a symptom of alcoholism and also a good indication that the individual has some rising concerns about their alcohol use.

Next Question: Criticism Against Drinking

Many people struggling with alcohol use and abuse become defensive if challenged by others on their drinking. If you have been one of those loved ones to show concern and they’ve reacted badly to your highlighting the issue, there is a likely to be a developing problem with alcohol.

The reason people get defensive or even aggressive when approached about their drinking habits is generally that they are not ready to admit to their problems. Denial is also not uncommon in problem drinkers and they often respond badly when they feel they have been “outed” as an alcoholic by others. There are many reasons why a person will challenge anyone exposing their issues with alcohol but in general, this response is a symptom of alcoholism that indicates they should seek treatment on an alcohol recovery program.

Feeling Guilty About Drinking Problem?

The next question deals with how the individual feels about their alcohol use. Unless someone admits it directly, it is difficult to know whether they feel bad about their drinking the next day or if they feel guilty about their behavior.

As alcoholism deepens, individuals start to experience blackouts and they can lose all memory of big chunks of time while they’re intoxicated. However, the people they work and have close relationships with are generally sober when the episodes of bad behavior take place and remember with stark clarity how it hurt them.

Consequently, many people with developing alcoholism will start to feel guilty for hurting others but without remembering what exactly happened. They are likely to only be aware of the fact they’ve hurt or offended another if they are told about the incident directly. This leads to a significant breakdown in relationships, particularly if alcohol abuse is continued without the individual entering an alcohol treatment center. Alcoholism affects everyone around the sufferer and there are generally numerous wounds that need healing on an alcohol recovery program.

Having a sense of guilt or shame about alcohol use is a symptom of alcoholism.

Drinking First Thing in the Morning?

Finally, asking someone about their drinking habits is a fairly accurate way of determining if they have a problem. People with developing alcoholism will start to drink at unusual times such as first thing in the morning or in the middle of the night.

This behavior becomes more heightened as the illness progresses and is largely caused by the body craving alcohol, particularly after a night’s sleep. When a person continues to abuse alcohol, in time their bodies become tolerant to its effects, which leads to them drinking progressively more.

After a while, they will experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms for shorter periods of time after the last drink, with alcohol being their only perceived remedy. This negative pattern of abusing alcohol, experiencing withdrawal and using again to ease symptoms is a major characteristic of alcoholism.

Attending an Alcohol Treatment Center Is More Effective in the Early Stages of Alcoholism

Alcohol use disorder is a life-threatening condition that can be effectively treated for a fulfilling life in recovery. There are numerous approaches to alcohol rehab including the complementary or holistic way of treating addiction used by Elevate centers.

If a person is suspected of having an issue with alcohol, it is always a good idea to reach out to them if they are close and talk to them in a compassionate way of getting help. It helps to know the questions to ask which we hope we have clarified in this article. Once the individual has accepted they have a problem, they are in the right frame of mind to enter an alcohol recovery program and start their journey towards long-term sobriety.


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