Alcoholism is hard to witness in a loved one, but it can be harder to know if that’s the true nature of their problem. While you may feel like alcohol use disorder should be apparent, that isn’t always the case. Before suggesting somebody seek help, there are some specific signs you might want to look for. There are significant indicators that alcoholism may be present in your loved one. Learning to identify them will help ensure the right support is found for recovery.
Health Risks and Complications
Even though it may seem evident to loved ones, people with alcohol use disorder (AUD) can deny they have a problem, even in spite of health complications and risks. Several conditions can be brought on by chronic, heavy drinking behavior. These include liver damage, anemia, cancer, brain damage, and nervous system problems. Alcohol use can cause or worsen symptoms of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and even paranoia. If a person experiences health complications as a result of alcohol use, it may be time to consider treatment. Getting a loved one to see this can be difficult, but if the signs are there that they have physical complications or waning health, they likely have been drinking a while and need help immediately.
School and Work Performance
Drinking behavior impacts people in all aspects of their lives. Typically, if people have a few drinks during the week, they can still go to school or work without consequence and maintain their responsibilities and general health. When they begin to use alcohol or other substances regularly, they begin to have struggles in work and school performance that signals trouble ahead. Relationships may seem strained or unhealthy, and lying may become common for an ordinarily honest person. Regularly using alcohol can turn into dependency and substance use disorder and lead to unnecessary complications. The loss of employment, dropping out of school, and failing in other obligations towards family and friends may be an indicator that alcoholism is present.
Lying and Hiding Use
This one may be harder for family and loved ones to detect, because someone with AUD may become skilled at hiding use from everyone over time, as their dependency increases. High functioning alcoholism works for a time, but people eventually slip up. They cannot control or hide their alcoholism any further. A person may drink in private or consume alcohol before meeting up with people and pretend not to have had anything. They may lie about use, driving while under the influence, and avoid social situations where drinking is noticeable. They may even lie to themselves and excuse their behavior as “normal” or “just taking the edge off.” In some instances, a person may hide alcohol around their home or workplace. If someone is lying or hiding use, this is a sign they are struggling with dependency or a substance use disorder. Being mindful of the symptoms of substance use means looking for behavior, including:
- More bottles or cans lying around than usual or increased amounts of recycling.
- Finding alcohol hidden in odd places like the bathroom or under the bed.
- Evidence they may be sneaking around to drink, including staying out later with colleagues or lying about where they’ve been when they go to the bar.
- Indulging in morning drinking or adding alcohol to morning coffee.
- Spending more money but not accounting for it (with suspicions it may be used for alcohol purchases).
- Spending more time with people who drink a lot and encourage a “party” lifestyle.
- Showing symptoms of a hangover.
Regardless of work or family life being a challenge for people with alcoholism, sometimes they experience other consequences. This might include trouble with the law over drinking. Perhaps they got a DUI or other citation for drinking in public. In the worst cases, there could be loss of life and the tremendous guilt that accompanies such a tragedy. If they have legal issues associated with drinking, or often lose control or even consciousness, those are signs of problematic behavior. The more negative consequences someone experiences, the more likely they are to benefit from treatment.
Seeking help for a loved one may have to be done in stages. It may include confronting them with evidence of their use. Either by themselves or with the help of a professional interventionist, families can face loved ones about their substance use by detailing evidence of how it impacts themselves and the family at large. Getting help for a substance use disorder means supporting the loved one without shaming them. They have challenges with substance use and need help. The issue is not that they don’t want to stop, they simply are not able to stop without help and support. The longer they go without assistance, the harder it can become to admit there is a problem that needs to be addressed. When loved ones find some of the signs as above, it may be helpful for them to encourage treatment for alcohol use disorder. To learn more about the signs that help is needed, contact a local treatment center, find support from professionals, and love the person with alcohol use disorder unconditionally as everyone works through the challenges together.
Ashley Addiction Treatment is an innovative treatment program located on Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. Ashley provides support for professionals seeking help with addiction. We are able to help people with co-occurring disorders and offer confidential treatment programs to meet your needs. Please reach out to us today at (800) 799-4673.