How to tell if a person is an alcoholic

Updated April 17, 2017

Alcoholism is a chronic disorder characterised by persistent, excessive and uncontrollable use of alcohol, resulting to mental and physical dependence. Many people suffering from alcoholism are unaware that they have a drinking problem. What begins as a harmless social activity, slowly turns out to be a habit and soon becomes an irrepressible addiction. Some people show obvious symptoms of alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. But there are other alcoholic individuals who do not show any visible signs of alcoholism. Here are some warning signs to help you recognise if a person is an alcoholic.

Notice how often he drinks alone. Drinking with friends or workmates during special occasions does not usually indicate a problem. But if he is doing it most of the time, especially when his alone, can be a sign of alcoholism. You may see him drink alone in a bar or he may do it secretly.

Observe her tolerance for alcohol. Increase tolerance for alcohol is another indication of an alcoholic individual. Overtime, her system does not respond to moderate intake of alcohol anymore, because she is used to drinking it every time. As a result, she increases her dose when she drinks, and does it more than she used to until she feels intoxicated--which is merely her intention.

Take note of how he consider drinking as a part of his daily routine. An alcoholic person often sets up a schedule for his booze. For example, if he visits the bar or the off-licence daily after work, this may be a sign that he has an alcohol problem. You will notice him making excuses just to have a drink.

Watch how her mood changes if her drinking schedule is hampered. An alcoholic person usually develops a very strong desire to drink that is beyond her control. Her urge to drink is just as strong as her urge to eat when she is hungry. So that's why when her time to drink is disturbed, she often becomes irritable and remains this way until her compulsion is gratified.

Find out how he reacts if you question his drinking. An alcoholic person typically responds in a negative way when you start to ask him questions about his drinking. He constantly denies or lies about this issue and never faces the fact that he is drinking too much.

Monitor her daily functions without alcohol. An alcoholic person finds it hard to carry out tasks without consuming any alcohol. She considers alcohol as her energy drink, that if ever she doesn't get any of it in a day, will make it difficult for her to perform whatever task she needed to do. Oftentimes, she may end up keeping alcohol in unlikely places such as in her office, car or at home just to make sure that she has something to drink.

Keep a close eye about how he deals with the issues of his life. When it comes to his health issues, an alcoholic person often fails to take care of himself--his appetite decreases because his concentration is more focused on drinking and nothing else; and even if he has an existing health problem, it won't stop him from doing it at all. His financial and legal issues are going downhill as well--he is always late at paying bills and often loses track of where his money went; and he usually becomes a physical threat to his family and to others due to his intoxicated and violent behaviour. His job can be in jeopardy as a result of his alcohol problem--he often goes to work late, works inefficiently due to poor concentration and even misses days of work because he is always too drunk to get up and move.

Try to see if she shows episodes of withdrawal. A person suffering from withdrawal symptoms is a sever sign of alcoholism. This is a state where a person feels sick whenever there is no alcohol in her system--she often feels nauseous, sweats profusely, shakes a lot and is constantly anxious. Withdrawal symptoms are way more severe than just a plain hangover. Such symptoms are often manifested first thing in the morning when she wakes up and become worse through out the day. These symptoms cease to take place only if she drinks again.


Early intervention is the best way to stop someone from being an alcoholic. Try to talk openly to your family member or friend who is in the verge of being an alcohol addict. Make him realise that it is not too late to fight it. This is an effective method specially for teenagers. Recovery from alcoholism is a lifelong challenge. But if you are there to support an alcoholic family member or friend, it will be easier for her to cope up with it. Knowing that someone believes in her, will help motivate her in becoming a better person. Encourage your alcoholic family member or friend to join support groups. You may not convince him during your first attempt but don't stop trying. Let him know that you are always there for him every step of the way. Some of the well known support groups include Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), a group that helps alcoholic individuals live a sober life; Alateen, a group that focuses on helping teenage children with alcohol problems; and Al-Anon, a group that is centred on helping families and other individuals who are affected by another person's alcoholism.

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About the Author

Wirnani Garner holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy and works in the medical profession. Her articles focus on health-related subjects, though Garner is proficient in researching and writing about a diverse range of topics.