The Top 6 Ways to Spot an Alcoholic

help alcoholic in denial

Loyal readers, today’s another post for friends or family of alcoholics about the top 6 Ways to spot an alcoholic.

Or, I guess another way of putting it is friends of someone who you suspect is an alcoholic.  How can you get a jump and spot the alcoholism at the earliest stages?  If you have a friend or family member–we’ll call him Nick–who’s functioning at a pretty high level, how do you know when he has crossed that line?

As you know, I have a bit of experience with alcoholism, so I know the tell-tale signs.

1. He Avoids Social Functions that don’t serve Alcohol

Dirty secret: alcoholics have a very hard time going long periods without some booze; it’s not like a tween without a smart phone, but it’s bad.  If you notice that Nick has slightly weird or abrupt ways of leaving or of avoiding–with weird excuses–events that don’t serve drinks, you may have reason to at least be suspicious.

2. He develops some risky and dangerous behavior

As drinking takes a bigger role in Nick’s life, he takes on riskier and more dangerous behavior.   Nick might spend money recklessly, having products that his income doesn’t seem to justify; he might drink, do drugs and drive or get into fights.  You may not be with him when he does these things and so you may not think he was drunk at the time, and he may deny it–the clues may be the risks.

3. He has a high tolerance for Alcohol

People look at their pals who drink quite a bit and start counting drinks.  The more Nick drinks, the more likely it is he has a problem.  But you can’t keep an accurate count on anyone–how can you know what he or she does when you’re not around.  A cue that most people miss is how high is Nick’s tolerance.

4. He is full of emotional ups and downs

Sometimes a swing that an alcoholic goes through simply has to do with his sobering up.  But due to swings in brain waves and blood sugar and the general drunkenness routine, alcoholics have tremendous swings.  If you’re seeing this among the other signs, the drinking has become excessive.

5. He misses work and social commitments

See number one, above.  But the missing out on these things can be for other reasons.  Sometimes the person doesn’t want to show up drunk, sometimes the general angst that goes along with alcoholism causes Nick to just need to be alone, sometimes he’s just off drinking somewhere, and sometimes he has forgotten about the commitment if it’s not work.

6. He will smuggle alcohol in a non alcoholic event

You probably would’ve caught this one by yourself.  It’s just that sometimes people try to sell this kind of behavior as just being a wild man, being a partier.  A person with a sense of humor can play this off as wanting to liven up a dull event, and sharing the booze with a lot of people will make the person just look cool in a slightly inappropriate way.  People like to think of alcoholics as sad mopy times, but Nick could be showing the signs here.

Now, I’m not trying to build paranoia, and I’m not asking you to go around accusing a bunch of people.  It might sound like I’m painting with a bit of a broad brush, but I’m a recovered alcoholic myself.  I would’ve wanted people to start to draw a bead on me a bit sooner.

Photo Credit Hamza Butt on Flickr