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7 Signs Your Loved One is an Alcoholic

It can be difficult to know whether someone is an alcoholic, especially as many people with an alcohol problem conceal some of the most evident signs of alcoholism.

Someone dealing with an alcohol problem might start lying about how often or how much he or she drinks, drinking alone, or disguising an alcohol beverage as a regular drink. He or she might also try to conceal how much they drink by hiding bottles of alcohol, including the empty bottles in the trash.

If you only see a loved one in certain circumstances, such as at parties or during the holiday season, it is even more difficult to know whether he or she really has a problem. You might see your loved one drink large amounts of alcohol, but you may not know whether it is situational or a chronic drinking problem.

If you find your loved one exhibiting some of the following signs of alcohol abuse or dependence, you should talk to him or her about getting help. You can call the Drug Treatment and Rehab Centers (DTRC) Admissions team at (916) 379-7248 to discuss your situation. We offer treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, along with mental health disorders, and dual diagnosis.

Alcohol Abuse

There is a difference between alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction (also known as alcoholism or alcohol dependence). Alcohol abuse occurs when a person drinks alcohol, typically large quantities, to alter his or her mood. This might include heavy drinking or binge drinking. Although alcohol abuse is not addiction, it causes problems and increases a person’s risk of becoming addicted. This could include relying too much on alcohol, engaging in risky behavior, and health problems due to excess consumption of alcohol. Although some people can stop abusing alcohol at any time, a person often requires professional help to address the underlying issues triggering the abuse.

The Signs of Alcohol Addiction

AAlcohol abuse becomes dependence when a person develops a physical or emotional dependence upon the substance. If you recognize any of the following seven signs of alcoholism in your loved one, you should encourage him or her to seek professional help. Not only does a person need treatment to deal with the emotional and psychological triggers of the problem, but he or she also should have a medical professional oversee the detox process, as it poses significant health risks.


One of the main effects of alcohol abuse is a person building up a tolerance to alcohol. This means that he or she needs to consume more of the substance to achieve the same effect. If you find your loved one drinking more than they used to without getting intoxicated, or only slightly feeling the effects of the alcohol, then he or she has most likely developed a tolerance.


If a person has developed a physical dependence upon alcohol, then he or she will experience symptoms of withdrawal when not drinking. These could include headaches, nausea, irritability, shaking or trembling, anxiety, sweating, insomnia, depression, and fatigue. If you notice your loved one displaying these signs but they abate after consuming alcohol, then he or she should enter a detox facility for treatment.

Loss of Control

Another sign of alcoholism is when a person cannot control how much he or she drinks. An occasional overindulgence in alcohol does not mean a person has a problem. It is common for people to get caught up in the moment and drink more than they had intended. However, if a person routinely drinks more than he or she planned, especially if it leads to severe intoxication, it could be a sign of a problem.

Cannot Stop Drinking

A closely related sign to losing control is when a person cannot stop drinking. A person with alcohol dependence might have every intention of quitting drinking, but find him- or herself unable to do so. When the physical compulsion to drink is too strong, no matter the intention of the person, without the skills provided through an intensive treatment to know how to resist, he or she will succumb to the temptation. Additionally, physical dependence often requires a period of detox to overcome this powerful compulsion to drink. For some people, the emotional dependence can be just as difficult to overcome, which is why they should look into getting help for alcoholism.

No Longer Involved in Activities

Another sign that a person might be an alcoholic is when the drinking behavior takes over other parts of his or her life. An alcoholic may no longer be involved in, or enjoy, the activities he or she once enjoyed. Work, school, personal life, hobbies, and relationships become secondary to drinking. It is typical behavior for an alcoholic to arrange his or her schedule or decide not to participate in an activity to ensure that he or she will be able to drink.

Drinking Throughout the Day

If your loved one seems to spend a disproportionate time drinking and engaging in activities that allow him or her to drink, then he or she might need help for alcoholism. An alcoholic typically spends most of his or her energy, time, and focus on finding that next drink. The whole day will be spent drinking, thinking about drinking, scheduling the next drink, or recovering from drinking. This limits the amount of time a person can devote to family, friends, social engagements, work, self-care, and other areas of life.

Continuing Despite the Consequences

Another sign of an alcohol problem is that a person continues to drink, despite the negative effects of alcoholism, both personal and professional. An alcoholic will often continue to drink even if he or she has already been diagnosed with a serious health problem such as liver disease, lost a job, or a spouse threatens to leave with the kids. An alcoholic might even start to engage in risky behavior in order to obtain the next drink, including stealing money. For an alcoholic, all that matters is drinking and no consequence is worse than how he or she feels without a drink.

Alcohol Treatment at DTRC

Alcohol dependence is a complex condition that often includes both physical and emotional dependence on alcohol. In order to overcome an alcohol addiction problem, a person must go through alcohol detox to end the physical dependence, as well as learn to manage and cope with the negative feelings and emotions triggering the problem. A person might begin to drink to numb or dull pain due to another mental health condition, such as anxiety or depression, which requires specialized care for both conditions, known as dual diagnosis treatment. At Drug Treatment and Rehab Centers (DTRC), we offer dual diagnosis and alcoholism and alcohol abuse treatment that treats all underlying and co-occurring conditions to reduce the risk of relapse. You can learn more by calling our Admissions team at (916) 379-7248.

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