a woman stares at a drunk roommate

Drunk Roommate: 6 Signs Your Roommate Has a Problem with Alcohol

When you share an apartment or house with roommates, it’s pretty common for the group to have some drinks as you decompress after work or when you go out. This culture of casual alcohol use makes it difficult to figure out when drinking becomes a problem. Alcoholism involves being dependent on alcohol. If you’re worried one of your roommates is developing an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, rather than using it once in a while to have fun, keep an eye out for certain signs that could point to alcohol addiction.

Learn about our alcohol addiction treatment center in Worcester, MA to discover how we can help your friend or loved one overcome alcohol use. Call 855.298.3104 today to discuss our alcohol addiction treatment options.

Signs Your Roommate Is Dependent on Alcohol

The signs that your roommate is struggling with alcoholism will differ based on the severity of their drinking problem. In general, however, there are some red flags you can look for if you suspect there is a problem.

1. They Feel that They Can’t Function Without It

Perhaps your roommate doesn’t seem able to do normal activities, like hanging out with friends, cleaning the apartment, or watching TV without drinking. If so, they may be suffering from alcoholism. It’s fun to drink with others, but most people understand contexts in which consuming alcohol is appropriate and when it’s not. If your roommate drinks wherever and whenever they can, they could be so dependent on alcohol that they can no longer see the difference. In social situations, your roommate may drink to feel comfortable. You might notice them constantly going out to bars, clubs, and parties because these places accept and encourage drinking heavily. When someone is dependent on alcohol, they can start to rely on drinking in order to work, study, go on dates, fall asleep, and generally feel in good spirits throughout the day.

2. They Can’t Limit Their Alcohol Consumption

Those battling alcohol addictions have a hard time controlling and moderating their alcohol consumption. People who aren’t dependent on alcohol can have a few drinks, reach a state of mind they desire, and stop drinking. A person with an addiction wants to consume more alcohol, even if no one else is reaching the same level. You’ll know a drunk roommate has lost control of their alcohol consumption if they consistently drink to extreme levels of inebriation and often blackout. Binge drinking can lead to some serious dangers, including alcohol poisoning and choking on vomit in your sleep. You also become more likely to engage in reckless behavior, like driving drunk, using dangerous drugs, and having unprotected sex.

3. The Person Often Drinks Alone

There’s nothing wrong with someone having a drink or two by themselves. However, if it becomes a habit, and your roommate drinks heavily every time they drink alone, this suggests drinking that’s out of control. It might mean they need alcohol to feel comfortable with themselves, even outside of social situations. Lots of empty cans and bottles in your roommate’s room could indicate they drink alone. But solo drinking is not always so obvious. Your roommate may try their best to hide it from you.

4. They Experience Withdrawal Symptoms When They Don’t Have a Drink

Alcoholism is an addiction because it has withdrawal symptoms. These include physical symptoms, such as hand tremors, otherwise known as the shakes, sweating, or nausea. They may also experience psychological symptoms, such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Visual, tactile, and auditory hallucinations

Be mindful of how your drunk roommate reacts when they go without a drink. Maybe they become more withdrawn, snappy, or unhappy. It’s normal to feel down when you have a hangover, but withdrawal symptoms are different. Hangovers pass over the course of a day and result from drinking too much. Withdrawal symptoms last for much longer, and they happen when someone who is addicted to alcohol drinks too little of it.

5. They Have Relationship Issues

If your roommate is an alcoholic, you probably aren’t the only one who’s noticed. One of the key signs of alcoholism is that it disrupts important aspects of life, including relationships. Perhaps you’ve noticed that interactions in the house, whether between you and your roommate or your roommate and other housemates, are often fraught with conflict. This may be because your roommate’s drunkenness means they don’t keep things clean, they get into heated arguments, or they disrespect the needs and wishes of others. Alcohol addiction can also put a strain on romantic relationships. You may notice that your drunk roommate behaves belligerently toward their partner. Be on the lookout for abusive or violent behavior, as these may call for police involvement.

6. The Person Doesn’t Take Care of Their Responsibilities

A pattern of heavy drinking is disruptive in many ways. Your roommate may not pull their weight around the house, but alcoholism can have larger consequences too. If your roommate is in college, they could miss classes, deadlines, and exams. Your roommate’s alcoholism could result in them being late for work or missing it altogether, skipping out on business meetings, not getting their work done, and, in turn, facing disciplinary action. They may miss family events or other important social occasions.

Can Alcohol Use Lead to Mental Health Issues?

Alcoholism often occurs alongside mental health disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Alcohol can numb the emotional pain and symptoms of these conditions, becoming a crutch or a form of self-medication. This coping mechanism is unhealthy because besides causing its own problems. It often exacerbates the mental health issue your roommate may have had in the first place, leading to heavier drinking.

A destructive, downward spiral is set in motion. As their mental health deteriorates, they turn to alcohol more frequently. They drink to cope, but drinking leads to more mental health issues, so they drink more, and the cycle continues. If you think your roommate may be struggling with both alcoholism and mental health issues, it’s important to get them help as soon as possible. There are treatment options available to address both addiction and mental health issues, including:

Alcoholism is a serious problem, and it’s important to get help if you think your roommate may have a problem.

How to Approach Your Roommate About Their Drinking

When you’re trying to encourage your roommate to get help, the delicate approach is best. Try not to get judgmental toward your roommate if you choose to discuss the problem with them. Stay calm and empathetic, but be firm. Try to relate to your roommate’s position. Ask direct questions about their drinking habits, and remember that they may try to deny, hide, or gloss over reality. Tell them that you are only talking with them about it because you care about them. When you speak to them from a place of empathy and compassion, it will be easier to have a productive, meaningful discussion about their drinking problem.

If you’re annoyed by their behavior, you may start making accusations and blame and criticize your roommate for their problem, but this won’t get you anywhere. They’ll get defensive, worked up, and argumentative. You’re not responsible for fixing your roommate’s alcohol abuse problem, so don’t feel like it’s your job to set them on the road to recovery. If you want to help but aren’t sure how, the simplest thing to do is refer them to someone who can, like the experts at our Western Massachusetts addiction treatment center.

Living with a frequently drunk roommate can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re not sure what’s going on. You’re not in charge of your roommate’s decisions or actions, but if you think they may have a problem with alcohol, knowledge is power. You’ll know to look out for the signs of alcohol poisoning, and you’ll feel more in control of your own situation.

Contact Washburn House for Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment for a Drunk Roommate

Whether you’re reaching out for more information or your drunk roommate is ready for treatment, contact Washburn House. Our addiction specialists can guide clients to the best treatment programs for their situation. If your drunk roommate is in school, experts may recommend intensive outpatient rehab, allowing them to fulfill obligations. Other alcohol treatment programs include:

Call 855.298.3104 for advice about alcohol use disorder, staging interventions, and treatment.

Scroll to Top