Signs that Drinking is Becoming Alcoholism

A woman drinking wine
Photo by RuslanDashinsky/

As with all substance dependency problems, the transition from occasional drinker to struggling with alcoholism can be gradual. Therefore, it is essential to learn how to distinguish occasional drinking from alcohol addiction.

With the increase in alcohol consumption during the coronavirus and stay-at-home orders, knowing the signs is essential now more than ever. Suppose you discover one of your family members are showing the following symptoms. It is time you have an open conversation with them about their drinking habits. At that point, it is also a good idea to get an evaluation from a professional.

Here are several things to be alert for which could point to alcohol addiction:

1) Dropping of responsibilities—This could be missing family gatherings, losing jobs, and in general, being flaky.

2) Decline in physical appearance—unkempt hair, body odor, and messy, dirty clothes can be a clear-cut sign things are not going well.

3) Noticeable shift in weight—This could either be a startling loss in weight or a dramatic increase in weight.

4) Drinking to solve problems—The dependence on alcohol to handle life can be one of the earliest signs. Turning to liquor when life is not going their way or when they have to do something they are nervous about.

5) Looking sickly—This can show up in several different ways: bloating or inflammation of the abdomen, yellowness of the skin or eyes, pale, clammy skin, and sweats. While all these signs can be signs of alcoholism, they can also be signs of underlying and severe health issues. If you see any of these, consult and medical professional.

6) Financial problems—This will likely start to show up later in the cycle of addiction. This indicates the individual has gotten to the point when everything is falling apart. They may have lost their job due to their struggle with substance use or maybe spending beyond their means to support their habit.

7) Drinking despite consequences, which could be social, physical, or financial consequences. For example, a person got drunk and caused a massive upset with their family, and the next day they continue to drink. Another example would be a person having to go to the hospital for alcohol poisoning, only to return to heavy drinking once they “feel better.” 

8) Risky Behavior—The individual is found to drink even when he is in situations that clearly show intoxication is a bad idea, such as when needing to drive, swimming, or before important moments.

9) Drinking to Stave off Withdrawals—Once a person has been drinking for a long time, they will have to drink to stave off withdrawals. If things have gotten to this point, the individual will need professional help to get off alcohol safely.

10) Tolerance to Alcohol—Over time, the person drinking will increase their tolerance to alcohol, meaning that it will take more drinking to become inebriated.

If you see the above symptoms, reach out to a professional. The longer someone struggles with substance abuse of any kind can worsen the consequences of the situation. Alcohol can cause long term bodily harm with prolonged use. So do not wait to do something. If you need assistance now, please message us on chat or give us a call.



Aaron has been writing drug education articles and documenting the success of the Narconon program for over two years.