How to identify alcoholism

Alcohol dependence and withdrawal are obvious signs of an alcohol problem. How can you spot them? Read on for more information on how to identify alcohol dependence.

Alcoholism is one of the most common health problems in the United States. Fortunately, treatment is available. Read on to learn more about how to identify alcoholism and how to find treatment here.

Identifying alcoholism

Learn how to identify addiction to alcohol here. And know what steps you can take once alcoholism has been diagnosed by a specialist. Then, we invite your questions about alcoholism and its treatment at the end.

How to tell if someone has alcoholism

Medical doctors or licensed psychologists diagnose alcoholism. This process usually involves a physical and psychological examination. To tell if someone has alcoholism, doctors will also usually ask a possible alcoholic several questions about their alcohol use to determine if they have a problem. But even during initial screening, alcoholics may not tell the entire truth. So how can you observe and tell if someone is alcoholic?

Some of the most common signs of alcoholism can include:

  • a “need” for alcohol to function or get through a day
  • alcohol dependence and withdrawal symptoms when a person does not drink for several hours or longer
  • avoiding activities and situations that don’t involve alcohol
  • failed attempts to quit drinking despite the problems it causes
  • family, work, school, or legal problems caused or exacerbated by alcohol
  • hiding alcohol use
  • increased tolerance to alcohol
  • irritability and mood swings
  • making excuses to drink

You’ve identified alcoholism…what now?

  1. If you suspect that a loved one is alcoholic, you can plan an intervention to confront them with your concerns. When planning an intervention, group together with other friends and family and decide on a time and place for the intervention, and plan what to say. You should also decide on what to do if the alcoholic will not quit drinking.
  2. Denial of alcoholism is not unusual. In fact, many alcoholics refuse to face this reality, because they aren’t ready for treatment or aren’t willing to admit that they have a problem. Others may be in denial because they believe that struggling with alcoholism is something to be ashamed of. Accepting alcoholism, though, is the first step toward treatment and recovery.
  3. The next step after accepting alcoholism is treatment. In order to do this, an alcoholic must first meet with an addiction specialist to discuss the best options for treatment. Depending on their individual situations and needs, alcoholics may opt for either inpatient or outpatient alcohol treatment. While inpatient is considered to be slightly more intensive and effective, it is also more expensive and time consuming.
  4. During recovery, it’s important for an alcoholic to have a strong support system made up of understanding family members and friends. Keeping the lines of communication open and flowing at this stage is essential to the health of these relationships and even the success of the treatment. In some cases, family counseling can also help alcoholics and their loved ones re-establish bonds and heal together.

The chances of successful recovery from substance addiction occur most often when you identify and treat alcohol/drug abuse and addiction early. So, the sooner an alcoholic becomes self-aware of the problem (or loved ones point out the problem), the higher the chances for success. Unfortunately, many alcoholics don’t realize that they have a problem until it’s too late – until addiction has consumed their lives. Waiting is unnecessary!

Help for alcoholism questions

Getting help for alcoholism can be intimidating and even a little frightening for many. If you or a loved one needs help for alcoholism, questions are sure to pop up. Keep in mind that you can ask any questions and voice any concerns in our comments section below, however. We’ll do our best to address any issues you may have in a timely manner.

Reference Sources:
Medline Plus: Alcoholism and alcohol abuse
Medline Plus: Alcohol withdrawal
USDA: Alcohol Abuse and Dependence
OPM.gov: Alcoholism in the Workplace: A Handbook for Supervisors
Rethinking Drinking: What are symptoms of an alcohol use disorder?
tooSMARTtoSTART: Warning signs of a drinking problem
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Substance Use