Recognizing The First Signs of Alcoholism

Recognizing The First Signs of Alcoholism

The beginning signs of alcoholism are usually not alarming –  drinks here, drinks there, then it becomes drinks everywhere. In fact, someone you know (maybe even YOU) might be on a dangerous path – and you might not even know it. 

Alcoholism, sadly, is a progressive disease. What starts at one bottle a day can advance to a binge that is strong enough to fry the liver.

Taking the adage ‘prevention is better than cure,’ it is important that you recognize these first signs of alcoholism before they develop further: 

Drinking has Become a Form of Stress Relief.

Everyone encounters stress – be it about work or some personal struggles. While some do tai chi, yoga, or focused breathing, some people turn to alcohol to relieve such stresses. This is explained in the tension-reduction hypothesis, wherein stress increases anxiety, so alcohol is consumed to reduce anxiety. 

Beginning alcoholics, however, see all kinds of stresses as an excuse to drink alcohol. He has to work through strict deadlines? Got to drink booze. He got in a minor scuffle with his girlfriend? Got to buy a six-pack. With stresses occurring daily, you can expect him to down his drinks at the same rate.

He Drinks “Just Because”.

Usually, there are reasons why people drink alcohol. It’s usually because of a celebration, or a reunion with long-lost friends. For budding alcoholics, however, consuming alcohol need no reason at all. It might just be a regular day but he will find an excuse to drink, especially if he sees other people doing so. Heck, arriving early at work (like he’s supposed to) might even be a cause for him to drink a breakfast mimosa. He will drum up every excuse just so he could rationalize his unplanned day (or night) drinking. 

He Might Not Have Money to Pay the Bills, But He Will Always Have Some for Alcohol.

When it comes to priorities, alcohol is at the top of his list. Doesn’t matter if he can’t pay the rent or the utilities, as long as he can keep on chugging on demand. For some reason, he can make ends money when it comes to liquor. 

If There’s No Alcohol, He Is Not Going. 

He wouldn’t go to a kid’s birthday party but would go to a wedding reception where alcohol is being served. He might give in to your request to go to the mall, granted you would hit the bar afterward. 

His friends all drink, so if you don’t, well then, you’re not part of the clique. Alcohol is a means of socializing, but for those in the early stages of abuse, alcohol has got to be present for them to socialize. It’s all or nothing.

He Just Can’t Seem to Get Drunk. 

He can hold his drink like a champ. Sure, this makes him seem ‘macho,’ but this could also mean that he has already developed alcohol tolerance – a hallmark symptom of alcohol dependence. 

Tolerance is admired in this society – so much so that young adults are ‘training’ for it in college parties – even in the safety of their dorm rooms. According to research done by experts from the University of Missouri, this is a health hazard as it increases the person’s potential to drink heavily.

He Isn’t Picky with Brands – He Can Drink All of it! 

Social drinkers usually have their favorite brands – if they are not available, then he might as well drink water or soda. That’s not the case with beginning alcoholics. It might be cheap, or it might be high-end – it does not matter. They will usually drink anything because it’s the alcohol content they’re after, not the taste 

Alcohol Changes His Personality

Alcohol lowers one’s inhibitions. When the defenses are down, personality traits can change. Quiet people can turn loud and rowdy after drinking. Those who are usually refined when they are sober might end up dancing on the table after a drink or two. If his personality changes extremely when he is under the influence of liquor, then he might just be on the way to full-blown alcoholism. 

He Gets Easily Irritated Without His Drink.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders defines irritability as “persistent anger, a tendency to respond to events with angry outbursts or blaming others, an exaggerated sense of frustration over minor matters.”

When he has alcohol in hand, everything seems to be fine in the world. But if his drink dries up, he can transform into a monster ball of irritability. Even the smallest of incidences trigger him – and you might see him all fired up after a minor altercation. 

Drinking Has Caused Some Profound Problems in His Life.

Remember how you can’t recall particular events after a late-night binge? This is expected when you drink, since alcohol affects several psychological functions, including attention and memory. This embarrassing situation might be enough for some to swear off alcohol for good. Unfortunately, this does not seem to affect a person who is beginning to show signs of alcoholism. 

The worst consequences usually happen after the drinking spree. Impaired attention and memory usually affect performance – so much so that one gets fired from work eventually. Some end up with DUIs, while some might contract diseases after unprotected sex (alcohol increases risk-taking, after all.) Although alcohol has caused many problems in his life, a budding alcoholic will see no problem with it – he might even dismiss it as a normal part of life.

He Has Alcoholic Family Members.

According to researchers from the Virginia Commonwealth University, alcohol dependence has been associated with a family history of alcoholism. If his mom, dad, or other blood relatives find solace in a bottle, then he has a probable tendency to do so too. While this is not 100% certain, you can expect it to happen soon. 

Alcoholism is a chronic condition that is best stopped at its infancy – it’s hard to turn back once it progresses. If you notice these first signs of alcoholism in your family or friends, make sure to offer them help before it’s too late. 

Latest posts by Raychel Ria Agramon, BSN, RN, MPM (see all)

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