Did you know that 86.3 percent of people in the United States at least 18 years old admit to trying alcohol at least once in their lives? While not all of these people become addicted to alcohol, around 14.4 million adults end up developing alcohol use disorder (AUD). And out of these adults, only 7.9 percent (around 1.1 million adults) end up getting the help they need.
If you suspect that you or a loved one might be developing alcohol use disorder, getting them treatment as soon as possible can help them avoid the effects of alcoholism before they get worse. While there are plenty of signs that easily point to alcohol addiction, you’ll want to spot these more subtle signs of addiction before they get worse.
Drinking at Inappropriate Times (and Finding Excuses to Drink)
Do you know the popular expression, “It’s five o’clock somewhere”? In most social norms, it’s acceptable to drink outside of special occasions after 5:00 PM, which is the traditional end of a workday and the time most bars offer “Happy Hour” discounts on drinks. But some people will jokingly justify drinking before 5:00 PM by saying that it’s already five o’clock in a different time zone.
Some people will use this as a joke to drink once or twice before the socially acceptable time, but you might notice that you or your loved one do it more than often. They’ll drink alcohol at inappropriate times of the day (e.g. during office hours, first thing in the morning), finding any excuse to drink. In the same vein, they’ll avoid situations that will prevent them from drinking.
Having Legal, Financial, or Work-related Problems
Aside from the short-term medical effects (blackouts, nausea, impaired judgment), and long-term effects (brain damage, cirrhosis of the liver, nerve damage), there are also non-medical effects that you should look out for. A person with AUD may find that their cravings for alcohol can prevent them from functioning normally, which could lead to problems with their job, their finances, or the law.
A person with AUD may have a sudden increase in tardiness and absences at work for no good reason or for medical reasons that point toward to the effects of alcohol addiction. Their impaired judgment may cause them to handle their finances improperly, leading to debt or multiple missed payments. This lack of judgment may also lead them to get into legal trouble for committing acts that they wouldn’t normally do sober.
All of these signs may be an indicator of something else. But if you notice that they drink heavily—and continue to drink despite everything happening to them—this could be a sign of their dependency on alcohol.
Avoiding Friends and Family
Whether it’s because they are ashamed, are trying to hide their addiction, or just want to be closer to people who also abuse alcohol, people with AUD may distance themselves from their friends and family. People with alcohol addiction may be likely to leave their current group of friends in favor of new friends who drink heavily. They’re also likely to avoid contact with their loved ones. They hide while they’re drinking so that no one can see how bad it is, and they don’t have to think about the guilt or shame of drinking.
What You Can Do to Help
According to an addiction recovery center in Ogden, it’s not enough to just treat the symptoms of addiction. You could be helping your loved one by preventing them from experiencing the medical and non-medical signs of alcohol addiction. But this is only a short-term solution that doesn’t address the reason the habit developed in the first place.
The best thing you can do is to suggest that they enter treatment to recover from their addiction. Some will acknowledge their problem and undergo rehab. But there are those who may be in denial about their AUD and may require an intervention from the rest of their loved ones.
There are many reasons people may develop alcohol addiction. But whatever the reason, if you see the signs in their behavior and notice their increased intake of alcohol, it may be a sign that you need to intervene and ask them to get treated.