If you’re worried that a loved one is suffering from alcoholism, it’s important to be on the lookout for tell-tale signs. Some of the symptoms of alcoholism may be obvious; others are a bit subtler. Get in-the-know, so you can take the next steps to help your loved one leave alcohol abuse in the past.
Signs of Alcoholism
Recognize the five common signs of alcoholism in yourself or loved ones and know that help is always available at the alcohol rehab center in MA.
1. Binge Drinking
Binge drinking is not always a sign of alcoholism, but it may be if your loved one always drinks in that manner. When someone can’t have a drink without drinking to excess, this suggests an abusive relationship with alcohol. If a loved one is unable to have just one drink and unintentionally gets blackout drunk on a regular basis, alcohol addiction could be the reason why.
2. Drinking Alone
Another warning sign of alcoholism is regularly drinking alone. When social drinking turns into solo drinking, it may mean the person is feeding an addiction.
Some people drink alone because they have underlying mental health issues that they find difficult to cope with when sober and in their own company. To escape themselves, they turn to alcohol consumption, as it temporarily numbs or masks their emotional pain.
One sign that someone drinks alone a lot is a lot of empty alcohol bottles lying around the house or in the trash. But alcoholics are often very good at hiding their drinking habits. If you suspect a loved one is drinking alone, it may be worth questioning them about it. Do so in a calm, casual, and non-accusatory way. Your loved one may deny the problem or diminish it. In this case, speak to others who are close to them to check that they’re not drowning their sorrows in solitude.
3. Living a Party Lifestyle
One of the reasons alcoholism goes unnoticed is that alcohol consumption is culturally acceptable and part of ordinary social interactions, such as celebrations and going to bars and clubs. Many people also lead a party lifestyle without becoming dependent on alcohol. This kind of party lifestyle may point to alcoholism, though, if a loved one doesn’t feel comfortable spending time anywhere other than parties or bars. They may drink heavily throughout the night into the morning.
Someone struggling with alcohol addiction can pursue this kind of lifestyle unchallenged because they surround themselves with others who are drinking, and so it’s easy to fit in. However, if you notice that your loved one spends all their free time at bars or clubs, drinking, then they might have an abusive relationship with alcohol.
4. Reckless or Unusual Behavior
Alcohol is a disinhibiting substance. It can help people relax and loosen them up. It acts as a social lubricant. Drinking is appealing and commonplace for this reason, but alcohol doesn’t always lower inhibitions in a positive way. While being drunk can make you more chatty and outgoing, it can also make you act in a reckless manner. One of the surest signs of alcoholism is when someone keeps drinking despite it negatively affecting their behavior. Unusual behavior may include:
- Getting into fights or arguments often
- Acting violently or aggressively
- Being rude and insulting
- Having risky sex
- Public intoxication
- Driving drunk
If a loved one acts out like this on a regular basis, it may be time to have a word with them about seeking alcohol addiction treatment in MA. An abusive relationship with alcohol could be the root cause of this disruptive and out-of-character behavior.
5. Emotional Changes
In addition to lowering inhibitions, alcohol also acts as a depressant. Whether a loved one is suffering from depression or not, drinking may lower their mood and result in other emotional changes, such as increased anger, irritability, and anxiety. Alcoholism can contribute to—or worsen—mental health issues, such as major depressive disorder or an anxiety disorder. Of course, picking up on negative emotional changes in a loved one doesn’t mean alcohol is involved, but since drinking and poor mental illness often go hand-in-hand (known as dual diagnosis), you should always be mindful of how a loved one’s drinking habits are affecting their mood, thoughts, and feelings.
How to Help Your Loved One with Signs of Alcoholism
There are many ways that you can help a loved with who is suffering from alcoholism. What you don’t want to do is be judgmental, pushy, or act as a savior. These approaches will probably just push your loved one away.
Be Firm and Compassionate
You may be unsure about whether a loved one’s concerning mental state or behavior is the result of a drinking problem. This is why you need to confront them about it properly. You should be direct in the conversation but remain understanding that alcoholism is a disease. Tell your loved one what needs to happen and why emphasizing the damage they’re causing to themselves and others. Express how much you care about them, and stress that you’re there to help them recover.
Don’t Enable Them
This is one of the most vital tips for helping a loved one. If your friend, partner, or a family member has a drinking problem, don’t enable that issue. This may mean:
- Avoiding going to certain places, like bars, clubs, and parties, together in case they trigger cravings
- Not allowing alcohol in the house
- Not funding their drinking
- Taking away their car keys if they’ve been drinking
Help Them Follow a Positive Lifestyle
Trying to get sober can be extremely challenging because someone may find the need to replace alcohol with something else once they give up drinking. You can help your loved one fight the urge to self-medicate by encouraging them to engage in healthier habits. This could include spending time together in situations where alcohol isn’t involved and doing positive activities together, like exercise or cooking classes. Many recovering alcoholics find that the high and mental health benefits of physical activity make it easier for them to stay sober.
Consider incorporating addiction therapy programs into your schedule. The following programs can help build new coping skills for triggers and healthy habits:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- Individual and group therapy
- Yoga therapy
- Music therapy
Point Them to the Right Services
There are a number of services and treatment options for a loved one struggling with alcoholism. These include:
- Inpatient rehab programs
- Intensive outpatient program (IOP)
- Counseling and psychotherapy
- Support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous
Finding Help for the Signs of Alcoholism
You can help a loved one by finding the nearest addiction treatment center, mental health professional, or support group, and providing all the necessary information to help them understand it’s the right choice. Ultimately, though, you can’t force your loved one to quit drinking or get professional help. They have to want to get sober.
Contact Washburn House by calling 855.298.3104 for more information about treatment for the signs of alcoholism. Once they’ve started their journey, you can support them through encouragement, care, and compassion.