Warning Signs of a Drinking Problem
No single sign identifies a problem drinker, but a pattern of behaviors can indicate a problem:
- Loss of Control - attempts to cut down or control drinking fail. Repeated promises to "be more careful" or to "cut down on drinking." Gets drunk when intending to stay sober.
- Black Outs - unable to recall all or part of a drinking episode. Doesn't remember what was said or done when drunk (blacking out is different from passing out).
- Increased Tolerance - needs more alcohol than before to get the same effects. Tolerance increases after repeated high use drinking.
- Drinking Causes Problems - continues drinking even though it causes academic, legal, health, financial, or relationship problems.
- Personality Changes When Drinking - a normally nice person, becomes mean or abusive when drinking.
- Neglects Responsibilities - absent or late for classes, meetings, appointments, or work due to hangovers or intoxication.
- Preoccupation with Drinking - frequently thinks about drinking. Gives up activities that don't involve drinking. Avoids socializing with friends who don't drink.
- Pre-Partying - drinks alcohol before going to a party where alcohol will be served. Also, "chugs" drinks to get drunk as quickly as possible. May also sneak drinks so others don't know how much he/she is really drinking.
- Denial and Minimizing - claims not to drink excessively, despite evidence to the contrary. Minimizes the amount of drinking ("I only had a couple of drinks"). Avoids talking about his/her own drinking. Justifies drinking and tries to characterize it as normal, despite problems.
- Susceptible to Accidents, Injuries, or Illnesses - more likely to be hurt in falls, in fights, or by "bumping" into things.
- Drinking to Feel Normal - drinks to cope, to escape from problems, to solve a problem, or to feel like everyone else.
- Drinking to Start the Day - drinks when getting up in the morning to control tremors or shakes after drinking the night before.