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How to Tell if Someone is an Alcoholic

Alcoholism is one of the great unfairnesses of life. How is it possible that something that makes people feel so happy and so good can turn on them so completely, threatening their sanity, their livelihood, their family and their very lives?  No one sets out to become an alcoholic, and most are very surprised when they end up there by accident. A few drinks lead to a few drinks more, and then, before they know it, they have a very serious medical condition.  If you suspect that someone you know may have developed a problem with alcohol, then there are a number way of ways to confirm it.

Signs of an Alcoholic

First, observe the possible alcoholic over the course of a few weeks and you will often be able to pick up on the discernible traits. This is not a foolproof method, as some people conceal their drinking and their drinking problem.  Covert alcoholics are much harder to spot than overt alcoholics. However, sometimes it can be glaringly obvious when someone has a problem with alcohol.
Alcoholics are like other addicts in that they will attempt to control their drinking with varying degrees of success. So-called “normal” people — those without an addiction to alcohol — will have no reason to attempt to control their drinking. It comes naturally to them. Therefore, listen for the person to say things such as “I’m going to try it not to drink tonight,” or “I had too much to drink last night,” or “I’m going to try not to drink this week,” and so on.
Alcoholics may have legal repercussions from their drinking, and yet they are still not able to stop. They may have lost the legal ability to drive, and if they are covering this up, then they may opt to take public transportation even when it may not make sense to. Pay attention to the way the suspected alcoholic smells. A good sense of smell will often be able to smell alcohol coming off of someone from a small distance. They may use strong cologne, perfume, or mouthwash to cover up the smell of their midday drinking.
One may also be able to tell when someone has an alcohol problem by the way they act when plans do not go predictably. For example, if the alcoholic is supposed to get off work at 5 p.m. and they are part of something such as a meeting that is running late, then they may feel a sense of panic at the possibility of not getting their drink in time. Alcohol, unlike most other addictive substances, can cause serious physical symptoms if the alcoholic does not get their drink in time. These symptoms range from mild discomfort to grand mal seizures, and they can be life-threatening and cause permanent damage. This is why a serious alcoholic should generally not go cold turkey. They must wean themselves down with help from a professional who will often prescribe some sort of pharmaceutical to ease the withdrawal symptoms.
Depending on the alcoholic’s personality — whether they are covert or open drinkers, whether they are introvert or extrovert — they will display these symptoms in varying degrees. The extrovert will probably be more obnoxious and reckless in general than the covert addict. If there is a suspicion that a friend or loved one may be an alcoholic, then it is paramount to attempt to convince them that they need treatment. This will not work when the alcoholic is feeling good and on top of their game, but there will be a better chance of helping the alcoholic when they are experiencing a hangover or some other failure due to their alcoholism. As with other addictions, the addict has fond memories of their substance when they are not actively suffering from alcohol abuse. It is a disease of forgetting as much as it is a self-destructive one.
It should be noted that the input of a medical doctor is always essential when attempting to make a medical diagnosis.  However, as there is no reproducible test for alcohol addiction at this time, only a number of tertiary tests that can measure the progress of symptoms or the presence of alcohol-related substances in the body, the scientific accuracy of any diagnosis is strictly limited.  Although it is essential to always be judicious and reasonable when using medical terminology, one should not shy away from making a casual diagnosis of a friend or a loved one based on their behavior and their physical symptoms.  Prescriptions and elaborate treatment programs may not be available without that official diagnosis, but the important work of recognizing the problem and beginning the process of recovery depends in no way upon the intervention of medical personnel.
Anybody can start getting better at any time; all they have to do is to stop drinking so much.  Sobriety can be a hard road, but it is worth it. Contact us today to receive help for you or a loved one.