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Eight Subtle Signs of Problem Drinking

Nurses Article   (912 Views 2 Replies 706 Words)

J.Adderton has 26 years experience as a BSN, MSN .

7 Followers; 91 Articles; 30,582 Profile Views; 339 Posts

What are the Red Flags of a Drinking Problem?

Approximately 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes yearly, making alcohol the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S. In early alcoholism, subtle signs point to problem drinking long before someone experiences long term relationship, emotional and health consequences. Continue reading to learn about the often ignored or unnoticed early warning signs of a problem.

Eight Subtle Signs of Problem Drinking

When asked to describe a problem drinker, an image of the “stereotypical” alcoholic often comes to mind.  Most of us are familiar with alcoholics portrayed in TV shows, movies and in the media.  Perhaps an unkempt homeless person, drinking hard liquor from a paper bag and later blacking out somewhere other than a bed.

The truth is… stereotypes can be used to justify drinking habits and lead to denial of a potential drinking problem.  Someone may brush off warning signs of problem drinking by rationalizing:

  • I am responsible with my bills.
  • I have a good job.
  • I have a family that loves me.
  • I am reliable and in control of my life.

Many alcoholics don’t admit to having a problem until their life begins to unravel.  However, there are early “subtle” signs that you, or someone you know, may have a drinking problem.

The Subtle Signs

1 - Vows To Quit Are A No-Go

Drinking alcohol can lead to embarrassing situations or “morning after” sickness.  People may get into a fight, cause a public scene, act inappropriately or experience a terrible hangover and vow never to drink again.  And, most people learn a valuable lesson and don’t experience a repeat.  But, someone who vows to “never do it again” and plays out the same experiences over and over, is most likely a problem drinker.

2 - Corners Are Being Cut

When night time drinking starts to interfere with daytime responsibilities, it could be a sign of unhealthy drinking.  Maybe a person is late getting kids to school, skips their regular morning routine or is late to work. Having difficulty or being unable to do what needs to be done in a day is another subtle sign of alcoholism.

3 - The Last One Standing

Another subtle sign of a problem is regularly drinking a lot of alcohol, but not showing signs of intoxication like other people.  If you’re having to drink 4 glasses of wine to feel “buzzed” instead of two, this could mean you are building a tolerance to alcohol.

4 - Make Plans Around Alcohol

Making frequent plans and suggestions for socializing around alcohol could be a warning sign.  And, not agreeing to plans if alcohol is not involved and questioning “What fun is that?” is also a bright red flag.

5 - A Case of Jekyll and Hyde

Problem drinkers often morph into very different personalities when they drink..  Unfortunately, the alter ego can be loud, obnoxious or even violent. In contrast, some people use alcohol to self-medicate depression and anxiety and become withdrawn.  Both scenarios point to drinking that has become problematic.

6 - Just Not Looking Good

Alcohol can affect how a person feels and looks.  A problem drinker may have unhealthy coloring, look exhausted or have changes in weight.  The person may also put less effort into self-care and personal appearance.

7 - Memory Gaps or Loss While Drinking

It is a common comedy plot.  After a night of heavy drinking, someone wakes up not remembering what happened the night before.  Everyone laughs as friends recap the night’s shenanigans to the person with memory loss.  There is a difference in blacking out and passing out.  A person who passes out is not conscious, while a person who blacks out is conscious the entire time they are drinking.  A problem drinker may fish around trying to figure out what happened the night before when they were blacked out.

8 - Your Friends and Family Notice

Family and friends often pick up on someone’s problem drinking before the person realizes there is a problem.  If family or friends voice concern about someone’s drinking, it is likely the person has fallen into unhealthy drinking habits.

For more information on the effects of alcohol on health and resources for problem drinking, visit this website.

What other warning signs have you observed in others or ... experienced yourself?

J. Adderton MSN has over 20 years experience in clinical leadership, staff development, project management and nursing education.

7 Followers; 91 Articles; 30,582 Profile Views; 339 Posts

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Sehnsucht specializes in New Grad Dec 2019.

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"Approximately 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes yearly, making alcohol the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S."

That makes alcohol a contributor, not a cause, right?  You can't actually call it the 3rd leading cause.

That aside, this is a very important article. "Problem drinking" isn't given the attention it deserves and I'm really glad to see it. 

Sorry for being an argumentation/logic Nazi. The overall article is wonderful.

 

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ruby_jane has 10 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in ICU/community health/school nursing.

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On 11/2/2019 at 10:07 AM, Sehnsucht said:

"Approximately 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes yearly, making alcohol the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S."

That makes alcohol a contributor, not a cause, right?  You can't actually call it the 3rd leading cause.

That aside, this is a very important article. "Problem drinking" isn't given the attention it deserves and I'm really glad to see it. 

Sorry for being an argumentation/logic Nazi. The overall article is wonderful.

 

The doctor who certified my dad's (relatively premature) death in 2009 listed alcohol as one of the causes. It was true. He would have been 80 today.  I don't disagree with your logic but in some cases the total life burden of abuse of alcohol and pain pills is the cause of death. 

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