The past two years have been stressful all around.
Most of us wish we could go back to early 2019 and have a total do-over.
We know that’s an irrational wish.
We know the only way out is through: we have to get accustomed to the new normal, accept things as they are and will be for the foreseeable future, and do our best with what’s right in front of us.
That’s the wise, balanced approach.
However, we also need to realize that the cumulative stress and uncertainty – combined with the lagging effects of isolation and social distancing from 2019 and the first part of 2020 – might push some people off balance. It might lead to excessive drinking, binge drinking, or alcohol addiction, a.k.a. alcohol use disorder (AUD).
Let’s be realistic: many people handle stress and anxiety by self-medicating with alcohol. They may start out drinking a little bit every day, then progress to heavy, daily drinking.
That can work for short period of time, but eventually, that kind of drinking takes its toll. It causes physical damage to the body and brain, emotional and psychological damage to the person drinking and their friends and loved ones, and it degrades friendships and family relationships.
Call (844) 661-2791 now to learn more about our treatment programs!
If you’re worried a friend or loved one is drinking too much, here are the top five things to watch for:
Five Signs a Loved One is Drinking Too Much
- Lying and Hiding
People who drink too much usually know it – but won’t admit it to anyone. To keep from facing the facts themselves, and to avoid uncomfortable conversations about drinking, they may lie about how much they drink and hide the fact they drink at all. If you raise the subject with them, they may deny they’ve been drinking, even when you know they have been, because you witnessed it. This is a red flag. Another red flag is finding empty bottles in strange places: in the closet, under the bed, or anywhere they don’t belong.
- Impaired Work PerformanceIf a loved one suddenly has problems at work, such as a rapid drop in productivity or not showing up at all, then alcohol might be the cause. Intoxication and hangovers both negatively affect cognitive function. Impaired cognitive function may result in subpar job performance, missing deadlines, or a decreased attention to important details. It may also result in prioritizing alcohol over work: what’s important to understand is that heavy drinking can cause significant problems in the workplace, which can lead to bigger problems down the road, inlcuding unemployment.
- Withdrawal from Family and Friends
When a person with an alcohol use disorder is in active addiction, they may not want to do anything but drink. They may stop participating in activities they used to love, or they may stop socializing with friends or stop spending time with family. These are red flags for excessive alcohol consumption, and may indicate the presence of an alcohol use disorder.
- Anger, Irritability, or Moodiness
If a loved one displays extremes of emotion that are unusual for them, it may be a sign of stress, or it may be a symptom of a developing addiction and/or escalating alcohol use. Anger or lashing out can be a symptom of intoxication, or it can be a symptom of withdrawal. The same is true for persistent sadness or anxiety. They may be signs of problem drinking, or they may be a sign that someone who drinks too much is going into alcohol withdrawal: both are red flags for excess alcohol consumption.
- Risky Behavior
Impaired cognitive function due to intoxication or long-term alcohol use can cause people to engage in unsafe behavior. This may mean drinking and driving, it may mean using drugs, or it may mean practicing unsafe sex. All are dangerous, and all may indicate that drinking is becoming a problem.
If you think a friend or loved one needs help with problem drinking, it’s important to know that treatment works – and the sooner they get treatment for alcohol addiction and support, the better their chance of achieving and maintaining sustained, lifelong sobriety.