Understanding the Signs of Alcohol Abuse

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Understanding alcohol abuse can help you identify when you or someone you love has become a problem drinker.  Alcohol abuse can happen without an individual even realizing it, so it’s important to educate yourself on the warning signs of problematic drinking.  In the case of alcoholism or alcohol abuse, simply cutting back will not resolve the situation and you may want to review addiction treatment options.

Many treatment centers and websites provide a checklist of the signs of alcohol abuse, but they do not explain the signs and symptoms.   It can be difficult to tell the difference between social and problem drinking.  How can you subjectively decide when a person has had too much or drinks too frequently?  The signs of alcohol abuse often focus on qualitative rather than quantitative consequences, let’s explore them in depth.

The Signs of Alcohol Abuse: An Explanation


Tolerance to alcohol is one of the major signs that your alcohol use has become a problem.  Tolerance indicates that the body has chemically changed to accept a certain amount of alcohol in your blood as “normal”, so it takes more substance to feel buzzed.  Tolerance indicates that your body is becoming chemically dependent on the alcohol.


As one of the signs of alcohol abuse, withdrawal has two meanings- 1) chemical withdrawl and 2) withdrawl from society.  If you get a headache, nausea, anxious, irritable, jumpy or you can’t sleep without the alcohol, your body has started to become chemically dependent.  Withdrawal from society, when an individual starts lying to cover up their drug use or drinking, shirking responsibilities at home or work, and generally avoiding activities that were previously enjoyable is also one of the signs of alcohol abuse.


This is one of the most common outward signs of alcohol abuse.  If you hear yourself denying how frequently you drink, how much you drink or what happens when you are drinking, you are in denial and may be suffering from alcohol abuse.  Denial is a defense mechanism where the human brain refuses to accept an uncomfortable situation or fact, even in the face of overwhelming evidence.  It can be hard to admit you have a problem, but it is an important step in getting help.

Loss of Control

When you use alcohol after promising yourself you won’t, or drink more than you’ve expected, you’ve lost control of your behavior.  Loss of Control indicates that your body may be dependent on alcohol, a common sign of alcohol abuse and alcoholism.  If your efforts to quit or stop drinking have failed, your loss of behavior should be seen as one of the signs of alcohol abuse and you should seek professional treatment and help.

Alcohol abuse and alcoholism affect all facets of society.  Addiction does not choose individuals based on race, gender or wealth and anyone can fall victim to these difficult disorders.  Understanding the signs of alcohol abuse can help you get a grasp on your situation or better recognize alcohol abuse in a friend.  Remember, treatment is available and effective and recovering alcoholics or alcohol abusers can live healthy normal lives after rehab.