The Hidden Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse

By: Adrian Cruce

Would you know how to spot an alcoholic if you saw one?

It’s easy, right? They’d probably be drunk during the day, smelling of alcohol, and might not have the best hygiene. Maybe they’d even be exhibiting some antisocial behaviors. 

Although that’s the stereotype the world is used to, it’s not the truth. While some alcoholics may fit that description, a lot of them won’t come close to it! So, how do you spot an alcoholic who isn’t in plain sight?

Find out with these hidden signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse. 

Lying About Their Drinking

When it comes to the early signs of alcohol abuse, be wary of someone who is lying about their drinking. While everyone’s probably underestimated how much they’ve drunk at some point and told a little white lie to avoid negativity, if it’s happening frequently it’s a definite red flag. Alcoholics may frequently lie about how much they’ve drunk, the fact that they’ve been drinking at all, or the fact that they’re currently drunk in order to conceal their tolerance. 

It’s also common for secret alcoholics to hide their bottles – both empty and full – around their home. They might have buried their empty bottles deep within their bin, or have full bottles hidden in odd places, like under their bed or in the back of their cupboard. As soon as someone is trying to hide their alcohol consumption from you, it’s a sign to take notice. 

Having an Excessively High Tolerance

When it comes to the physical signs of alcohol abuse, they’re not always obvious. Someone may look well-groomed, in good shape, and be missing those telltale bags under their eyes. This is when you have to dig a little deeper.

One of the signs of alcoholism that many people aren’t aware of is a very high tolerance. Of course, tolerance can vary depending on a number of things, including age, gender, and weight. But, if someone’s tolerance is suddenly a lot higher than it once was, or it seems too high even for their height and weight, it could be a symptom of their excessive alcohol consumption. 

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If your friend, partner, or family member is suddenly throwing back the whiskeys or downing beers without much change in their behavior, start keeping an eye on them. 

Experiencing Mood Swings

The symptoms of alcohol abuse are another common sign that they might be consuming too much. Once again, everyone can experience mood swings for different reasons, but if you already have your suspicions this could be a sign to take action.

As with any addiction, people can get irritable when they don’t have enough alcohol in their symptom. They might become stressed, angry, and anxious, all of which are signs of withdrawal. These can happen anywhere from 6 hours after their last drink, and your loved one could go from calm and happy to agitated and angry in a split second. 

Struggling With Their Memory

We all know that too much alcohol can wreak havoc on memories, so imagine being an alcoholic? When they’re almost always under the influence, their memory can become blurry and out of focus. This usually involves short-term memory, and you might find the individual struggles to remember specifics about what they did that morning or the day before.

It can also involve blackouts for severe alcoholics, in which they can’t remember anything at all about a certain time. When this is happening, your loved one needs to get help. If they don’t and they keep drinking so heavily, they could experience permanent brain damage that even sobriety won’t be able to cure. 

Missing Out On Social Events

If the person you’re concerned about is suddenly missing a lot of events they used to come to, it’s a definite warning sign. Secret alcoholics will often withdraw from society and avoid social gatherings in the hopes to conceal their problem. They may also be suffering from a mental health problem alongside their alcoholism, such as depression, which means they don’t want to go out and take part in society.

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Whenever you see someone who used to be social withdrawing and avoiding events, it should always be a cause for concern. They may have a perfectly good reason like they’re busy with work or in a new relationship, but it could also be a sign of something more serious. 

What to Do About a Secret Alcoholic?

Early intervention for alcohol abuse is the best way to help a loved one. By knowing these signs you might be able to spot alcoholism early on and ensure they get the help they need as quickly as possible. Alcohol awareness classes, for example, are a popular choice for early intervention. 

You should also encourage your loved one to start seeing a therapist. There are often underlying problems causing alcoholism, such as depression, stress, or anxiety, and seeing a therapist can help them understand these issues and give them better, more healthy coping methods.

If you know someone who you think has a severe problem with alcohol, talk to their closest friends and family. Come up with a plan together to help them, such as admitting them into rehab and seeking medical help, and make sure you’re all ready to offer your love and support. Having a team of sympathetic, understanding people around them will help your loved one to recover. 

Learn the Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse

These are just a few of the more secretive signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse, and they don’t apply to everyone. If you’re worried about a loved one, make sure you look into more signs so that you can correctly identify a problem and get them the help they need.

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out more health related pieces on our website!