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Do I have an alcohol problem? How to spot the early stages of alcoholism


More often than not the last person to recognise the signs of alcoholism is the one affected by alcohol addiction. However, if you’ve quietly asked yourself ‘am I an alcoholic’ you might want to cross-reference yourself with these early alcoholism symptoms.

An alcoholic will often try to mask their destructive behaviour with dishonesty and deceit. Often the person that they will go to the greatest efforts to deceive is themselves and their evasive and defensive reactions to any challenges or offers of help can prove hugely frustrating.

Signs of alcoholism

Coming to terms with the fact that you, or someone you know, has a problem with alcohol can be a difficult and confusing time. The issues surrounding alcohol are complex and, as such, it is useful to know the early stages of alcoholism, to gauge when binge drinking has escalated to alcohol dependence, and to seek professional help at the earliest given opportunity.

Here are the various stages of alcoholism:

Stage 1: Problem drinking

Put very simply, if drinking is causing problems in someone’s life, they have a drinking problem. When the problems associated with someone’s drinking outweigh the benefits, their relationship with alcohol has be-come problematic.

Stage 2: Alcohol abuse

Problem drinking often turns into alcohol abuse when, despite the problems caused by alcohol, the person continues to drink. Their drinking will be destructive and may lead to drinking to de-stress or feel better; friends and family worrying about their drinking; dishonesty or secretism about their drinking; continuing to drink despite the problems alcohol causes; neglecting responsibilities at home, work or school; and experiencing legal problems as a result of drinking too much.

Stage 3: Alcoholism

Alcohol abuse becomes alcoholism when a person begins to experience a loss of control when drinking and alcohol withdrawal symptoms when they do not drink. At this point they will experience a physical and mental compulsion to drink alcohol. Tolerance is the first sign of a physical dependency and simply means that a person has to drink more that they used to in order to achieve the desired effect.

Alcoholism symptoms

Signs of alcoholism can include one, or a combination, of things like regularly drinking to excess; vomiting and shaking; reliance on alcohol to relax, fall asleep, or to socialize; uncharacteristic behaviours whilst intoxicated; failing to keep promises and appointments; isolation or going missing for days; blaming others for their problems and drinking, hiding alcohol around the house; frequently swearing off alcohol; not accepting responsibility for their behaviours; and regularly smelling of alcohol or trying to mask the smell.

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