Not all alcoholics look or behave the same. There are, however, some common signs that many alcoholics exhibit. Since alcoholism is a progressive illness, meaning it gets worse over time, the degree of severity and number of signs often increases over time. Here are some of the signs of alcohol dependence or alcoholism. You do not have to exhibit all of the signs to be an alcoholic.

  • You spend a lot of time drinking and recovering or thinking about drinking.
  • You change what you drink. This can mean switching from beer to vodka because you think doing this will help you drink less or keep you from getting drunk.
  • You feel guilty after drinking.
  • You have withdrawal symptoms. These may include being sick to your stomach, sweating, shakiness, insomnia, and anxiety.
  • You cannot quit or control how much you drink.
  • You keep drinking even though it harms relationships and causes health problems.
  • You have given up other activities so you can drink.
  • You drink in the morning or drink alone.
  • You worry that you won’t have enough alcohol for the weekend or for a trip.
  • You buy alcohol at different stores in an attempt to hide how much you buy.
  • You hide your alcohol bottles rather than putting them in the recycling or hide them from family members in the house.
  • Your tolerance has increased. You need to drink more to get the same effect.
  • You have legal problems because of your drinking.
  • After drinking you can’t remember what happened. These are blackouts.
  • You are neglecting your responsibilities.
  • You drink in dangerous situations. These include drinking before work, before or during driving
  • You drink to relax or feel better. If you feel like you need to drink to deal with a stressful day or to relax that can be a sign of alcoholism.

Alcoholism is a progressive illness. Most experience an increase in symptoms if they keep drinking. For example, in early alcoholism your only withdrawal symptom might be anxiety or shakiness. Fast forward a few years, or just a few weeks, and if you go without a drink you may experience delirium tremens which is a psychotic condition marked by tremors, anxiety, confusion, hallucinations, and disorientation. If you can’t stop drinking even though you want to or think you should, you may have crossed the line from alcohol abuser to alcoholic. It might be time for help.


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