Ten percent of US adults have suffered or are suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction. Is one of those adults your loved one?
Finding alcohol support in the form of aa meetings and other alcohol support groups is imperative to your loved one making a full recovery from their addiction. But the first step toward helping them find a group is being able to identify the signs of an alcohol abuse disorder.
Luckily, there are many signs and symptoms that help make it clear that your loved one needs help.
What Is Alcohol Abuse Disorder?
Before we get into the signs of alcohol abuse, it’s important to understand that alcohol addiction is a serious mental health disorder. It is not a sign that your loved one is inferior or weak in any way. Instead, they are sick with a curable disorder and require professional treatment.
Alcohol abuse disorder is a brain disorder that can be treated through behavioral therapies, support groups, and medications.
Genetics, early exposure to alcohol, and other mental health conditions often play a role in how likely an individual is to develop an alcohol use disorder. For example, alcohol abuse disorder is often correlated with depression, PTSD, and even ADHD.
For this reason, it’s important to treat every person who is struggling with alcohol addiction with compassion and understanding – not judgment.
Signs of Alcohol Abuse
Often, the signs that you or a loved one have an alcohol addiction will be very clear. You may notice that they’re always either drinking or drunk. But there are other signs that can indicate a drinking problem that doesn’t involve physically seeing the alcohol itself.
It’s important to be aware of these signs because many people struggling with an alcohol addiction learn to drink in secret to avoid criticism. Here are some important signs of alcohol abuse to be aware of.
1. Increasing Legal Troubles
Alcohol can lead to moodiness, aggression, and a lack of healthy inhibitions in addicted individuals. This increase in negative emotions combined with the inability to assess risk may lead to them getting in legal trouble on a more regular basis.
Some common legal issues that people with an alcohol or drug abuse problem face are DUIs, assault, domestic abuse, and stealing. If you notice a loved one engaging in more of these illegal behaviors, you should recommend seeking treatment and aa meetings.
2. Overreactions to Criticisms of Drinking Behaviors
When a person has a healthy relationship with drinking, they are able to take criticism of their current drinking behaviors calmly. You can tell someone without a drinking problem that they’ve had enough for the day and they’ll listen.
Someone struggling with an alcohol problem will have an overreaction to any criticism of their drinking. Before any accusations are even made, they may demand that they don’t have a problem at all. They may even react in a physically aggressive manner.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings can help an individual learn to accept their faults, acknowledge their addiction, and take criticism in a healthy manner.
3. Increasing Financial Problems
Addictions are expensive, and as mentioned before, alcohol impairs your judgment. People with an alcohol addiction may start to experience financial hardship as they start overspending on alcohol or impulse purchases made while under the influence of alcohol.
They may also start taking out inadvisable loans, liquidating assets, and making brash decisions in business and personal finance.
In a worst-case scenario, an alcoholic may begin stealing alcohol, money to buy alcohol, or other goods when they’ve already spent their money on alcohol.
4. Needing Alcohol to Attend Any Function
In even the earliest stages of alcohol addiction, they will need alcohol in order to attend and enjoy social functions. Those functions can include work events, family gatherings, holidays, and friendly outings.
While alcohol can elevate an experience, it should never be a requirement to have a good time at social gatherings. If you feel like you need it as a crutch, you may be on your way to reliance or addiction. And if you notice that a loved one always heads straight to the bar or brings their own alcohol to every event, it may be time to have a conversation with them.
5. Decreased Hygiene and Personal Appearance
Alcohol abuse is often linked with depression, and alcohol will become the most important thing in an addict’s life. As a person begins to struggle with an alcohol problem, their attendance to personal appearance and hygiene will diminish.
At first, they might just wear sloppy or messy clothes and forget to brush their hair. As the addiction worsens, you may notice that they’ve stopped showering or brushing their teeth.
If you notice a loved one putting less care into their appearance and hygiene than they used to, it’s worth having a conversation about what’s going on. Even if they aren’t struggling with an addiction, this can be a sign that they are struggling with depression or another mental illness.
AA Meetings Save Lives
If you notice any of these common signs of alcohol addiction in a loved one, you should talk to them about starting to attend AA meetings. A counselor and group support in the form of AA meetings can help a person set their life back on track after struggling for so long with the horrible symptoms and negative effects of an alcohol abuse disorder.
Are you looking for AA support for yourself or a loved one? Check our database for a group near you.