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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 laidback 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 the alcohol addiction treatment center in Worcester, MA for alcohol use disorder.

Signs Your Roommate Is Dependent on Alcohol

1. Can’t Function Without It

If your roommate doesn’t seem able to do normal activities, like hanging out with friends, cleaning the apartment, or watching TV, without drinking, 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. A roommate who drinks wherever and whenever may 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 going out to bars, clubs, and parties constantly because these are places where drinking—and drinking heavily—is accepted and sometimes encouraged. When you’re dependent on alcohol, you can start to rely on drinking to work or study, go on dates, fall asleep, and to generally feel in good spirits throughout the day.

2. Can’t Limit Their Alcohol Consumption

Alcoholics have a hard time controlling and moderating their alcohol consumption. A roommate who regularly binge drinks could have a dependency. People who aren’t dependent on alcohol can have a few drinks, reach a state of mind they’re happy with and stop drinking. An alcoholic wants to get more and more drunk, 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. Often Drinks Alone

There’s nothing wrong with someone having a drink or two by themselves, but 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. Experience Withdrawal Symptoms When They Don’t Have a Drink

Alcoholism is an addiction because it has withdrawal symptoms. These include physical symptoms:

  • Hand tremors (known as ‘the shakes’)
  • Sweating
  • Nausea

And psychological symptoms:

  • 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 miserable. 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 needs alcohol drinks too little of it.

5. 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—between you and your roommate or between 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 to their partner. Be on the lookout for abusive or violent behavior, as these may call for police involvement.

6. 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.

How to Approach Your Roommate About Their Drinking

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. Try not to get judgemental 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 keep in mind 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 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.

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 specialist 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.

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