For the vast majority of people, alcohol addiction (alcoholism) isn’t something that happens overnight. It builds up gradually over time and slowly but surely takes over a person’s life.
Recognising a problem with alcohol can be extremely difficult. As you drink more, your tolerance to alcohol increases. You don’t have to be constantly drunk to be an alcoholic – many functioning alcoholics simply live day to day topping up their alcohol levels without being obviously inebriated. Perhaps even more importantly, your standards and goal posts shift. So patterns of drinking that you may have considered unacceptable a few years ago become the norm.

Denial is a significant factor for many people living with alcohol addiction (alcoholism). From London to Llandudno and Cornwall to Carlisle, alcoholics struggle every day to regain control. Alcohol addiction affects people from all walks of life – it isn’t limited to any social demographic or type. If you’re concerned about your drinking or worried about a loved one, then it’s important to understand the signs of alcohol addiction. Recognising the problem can be the first step to making a new start.

10 warning signs of alcoholism

If you regularly drink more than the government guidelines of 14 units a week, you could be putting your health at risk. If you’re addicted to alcohol, you’re probably drinking considerably more than this. That’s why looking out for the signs of alcohol addiction is so important. If there’s a problem, getting help sooner rather than later is critical. The following are signs to check for:

Other people have mentioned concerns about your drinking – if close friends, relatives or colleagues have said they’re worried, it’s time to listen. As denial is a common factor in alcohol addiction, an outside point of view can often be far clearer than self-reflection. Addiction will prompt you to find excuses for your drinking making it more difficult to recognise your problem.

You drink to cope with stress and problems – many people living with alcohol addiction use alcohol to help them cope with problems at work and home. This is a vicious circle as the alcohol only gives temporary relief before escalating problems further still.

You think about drinking a lot – craving alcohol is a clear sign that your body is becoming dependent on it. Planning your next drink can become distracting and your concentration levels may plummet.

Lying (or being economical with the truth) about your drinking – if you feel you need to hide your drinking from other people, then you’re drinking too much. This kind of secretive or dishonest behaviour is very common in addiction.

Trying and failing to cut down – not being able to stop drinking is a clear warning of dependence.

Finding you can’t remember what happened during drinking – passing out and blackouts are indications that you’re drinking too much. These kinds of occurrences are common during binge drinking as large volumes of alcohol affect brain function and memory.

Having an alcoholic drink first thing in the morning – feeling that you can’t start the day without a drink or that you need a drink to get your hangover ‘under control’ indicates alcohol addiction. If you then get in your car and drive, there’s also a strong chance that you’re over the legal limit.

Losing weight and looking ‘rough’ – heavy drinking takes its toll on the way a person looks. The more you drink, the less you care about anything including your appearance.

Financial problems – many people living with alcohol addiction struggle with money problems. Job security is often lost as drinking escalates and buying alcohol is a drain on resources.

Drinking habits cause problems with family and friends and at work – arguments fuelled by alcohol and accidents or mistakes that become commonplace (such as losing keys/wallet, missing appointments, showing up late) can create all kinds of problems that make a person’s life swerve increasingly out of control.

Getting the right support for alcohol addiction

Early intervention can make a significant difference in overcoming alcohol addiction so understanding the signs of alcoholism is extremely important. The next vital step is to get the help you (or your loved one) needs. At Step One Recovery, we’ve helped many of our clients with alcohol addiction move on to regain control of their lives. Our expert team of doctors, psychologists and therapists support people through detox to begin building new ways to cope without alcohol while tackling underlying issues.