Alcoholism symptoms: signs of alcohol abuse

What are the signs and symptoms of alcoholism?

There is a feeling of a behaviour (drinking) that is initially slipping out of control, just a little bit to begin with. The drinker usually feels that they could control it any time they want, normally tomorrow rather than today.

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Alcoholism symptoms: signs of alcohol abuse

What would you give to put a smile back on your family's faces?

Has the smile gone from your partner?  Is she not the fun, laughing, happy go lucky person she once was.  Do your kids look anxious when you go out and even more anxious when you come in?  Do you want to change that?  Would you like to change your drinking behaviour, to bring the joy back to the home and to feel confident and relaxed?  This website can help you do that.  We can give you the tools to build a better future for yourself and your family.

Do you have an alcohol problem?

People often say that it is only yourself who can decide whether you are an alcoholic. This is of course nonsense!  It may be true that only yourself can admit to being an alcoholic but it is often obvious to loved ones.  Also, there are methods of diagnosis and assessment that do not depend on the drinker admitting to being an alcoholic but instead look at the drinking behaviour and the consequences. For example you can find an assessment on this website.

Criteria have been established for Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol Dependence - mainly for use by professionals, doctors and therapists, but there is also a list of signs and symptoms that would normally be found if someone were to be diagnosed as an alcoholic.  If you have a drinking problem, you may not show all, or even most of these symptoms but they are a good starting point in understanding your relationship with alcohol.

People who might be diagnosed as an alcoholic will often:

  • Drink more than their friends – almost goes without saying. They will sometimes use excuses such as "they are a boring bunch that drink too slow", and there may be some truth there. Nevertheless it is clear that s/he drinks more than his/her friends on almost every occasion.
  • Hide how much s/he drinks - for example in a social situation she may buy and quickly consume extra drinks when she thinks no one is looking or he may carry his own bottle or hip flask and top up his drink, again when he thinks no one is looking. In a non-social situation she may hide alcohol around the house, for example in the back of drawers or he may hide empty bottles in the neighbour's rubbish bins.
  • Drink more than intended - good intentions that “this time he will only have one drink, or maybe two drinks, definitely three at the most” seem to go by the wayside, as he gets drunk again.
  • Lie about how much they drink – for example denying having had a drink at all or minimising the amount, despite it obviously being untrue. Confrontations along the lines of “You have obviously been drinking” only appear to bring an automatic denial and ever increasing defensiveness which may escalate into a full blown row.
  • Experience increasing difficulty functioning without a drink - for many people, not just those with a problem, some situations like meeting strangers or relaxing at parties are much easier if they have had a drink to put them at ease. However most people could still relax and have a good time without alcohol. Some problem drinkers come to depend on alcohol to relax them and reduce the social unease, in fact without alcohol, they can become even more awkward and nervous. This can start a spiral of dependence – drink helps relax – no drink more anxious – drink helps relax.
  • Experience increasing difficulty not drinking - she will have great difficulty refusing a drink when offered and also she will drink at times and situations where she would not have had a drink previously. For example a shopping trip that would have included a coffee break may now have a wine break, or working at home may now have a cocktail break included.
  • Have more frequent and severe withdrawal symptoms - he may start to experience withdrawals such as tremors (hands shaking) and sweating, these are viewed as classic signs of dependency. At first these symptoms may be fairly mild and easily controllable or concealed, however with time they become more severe and start to affect functioning, especially as they are usually accompanied by other symptoms.
  • Feel anxious and guilty in the morning - the feelings of anxiety and guilt can increase the shakes and conversely the shakes can exacerbate the anxiety. The whole package leads to an extremely uncomfortable time and can escalate to panic attacks.
  • Drink in the morning - one obvious way to alleviate such bad feelings is to take a little drink – hair of the dog that bit you. This will settle the anxiety and shakes, at least it will for a while. It is also obvious that when the effect of that drink wears off the anxiety and shakes will return and another drink will be needed and the spiral of alcoholism signs really begins.


To sum up these signs and symptoms, there is a feeling of a behaviour (drinking) that is initially slipping out of control, just a little bit to begin with. The drinker usually feels that they could control it any time they want, normally tomorrow rather than today. Sometimes they succeed, often they don’t. Then drinking seems to take over and problems accelerate.

If you feel that you may have a problem and are showing signs of alcoholism take the assessment for this website.

If you have already taken the assessment then register here.  You have nothing to lose but your problems and you may gain a new life.