10 Signs You're an Alcoholic

Casual drinking can be a slippery slope downward. Here are 10 signs you're an alcoholic.

Photo by William Fleury on Unsplash

The sun shined the wrong way through your disheveled blinds, waking you from your stupor as you sweat your way through your sheets. Somewhere your alarm clock is going off; you're late for work, and your stomach is churning bile over and over at the bottom of your throat. You're counting the number of times your headache can pound inside your head until you're ready to get out of bed, and you taste blood running from your cracked lips as you pull yourself off your pillow. Swinging your legs off the bed, you try to stabilize yourself on your end table, knocking over beer bottles and soaking your carpet in alcohol. Now the race is on to get to the bathroom before you wretch all over your bedroom, tripping over clothes and empties from the night before. Admittedly, I've done this. It might even be safe to say the majority of people have done this. If you do this every morning though, it may be one of the signs you're an alcoholic.

You drink in the morning.

They say the best cure for a hangover is the hair of the dog, and there have definitely been mornings in my college years that I've started off a day with a shower brew; but if the first thing you do in the morning to ebb the effects of alcohol withdrawal is grab an adult beverage, this is a definite sign you are experiencing serious signs of alcohol dependence. Exhibiting that kind of behavior with any frequency may even be fostering young alcoholism.

You show signs of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome.

Speaking to the last point, many people do not know all the symptoms of alcoholism. Physical warning signs of alcohol addiction include, but are not limited to, having the shakes, being incredibly uncomfortable without having alcohol in your system, blurred vision, awful breath, lethargy, lack of hunger, brain-splitting headaches, and so many others. Heavy drinking for years and years will also cause a complete shutdown of your liver and/or kidneys, first turning you yellow and possibly even giving you cataracts. That doesn't even cover the manic mood swings, extreme aggressiveness, constant irritability, or all the other associated mental health issues of heavy drinking.

You prioritize alcohol.

It seems like all anyone can talk about is how much work sucks. Now, imagine having to go to work after living through the scene painted in the abstract of this piece. A lot of alcoholics would simply call in sick, find their leftover bathroom beer, and slug it in lieu of brushing their teeth. This is a harsh realty for people with a serious drinking problem. Going to birthday parties or family gatherings can become daunting after you're tired of getting hounded to, "Stop falling over yourself into the kiddie pool." Why even bother? As long as your fridge has beer, you couldn't have a care in the world.

You have lost interest in other activities.

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After losing your job, severing ties with your extended family, and only making your way out of the house to go down to the local comes complete apathy for anything but alcohol. Yes, one of the glaring signs of alcoholism is not doing anything but wondering when you are going to have that next drink. Whether you know the liquor store owner by his first name, who's throwing down this weekend, or every happy hour special in walking distance from your place, if your only inclination is to drink, you are showing signs you're an alcoholic.

You talk and think about alcohol constantly.

Seemingly over one, long, hazy night out, all your buddies are bar flies. Sitting there at the bar after coming in by yourself, you start to recognize the faces of people who you owe money, who you fought last weekend, and who's got it better off than you. In order to sidestep any awkward conversation coming, you reminisce about all the good times you had at your favorite watering hole. "Hey, remember when..." becomes your favorite phrase when one of the other regulars begins hassling you about this thing or that. You sit at the bar and make snide remarks about the choices of drinks made by non-regulars, commenting about what kind of beverage that makes that particular person. Even if you're not at the bar and manage to make it anywhere else, you crave it so much that you're always the first to suggest, "How about we stop in for a cold one?" The reoccurring thoughts and words you have about alcohol are clear cut signs you're drinking too much alcohol.

Your behavior becomes unacceptable when you drink.

Sure, you think you're everyone's best friend when you're drunk. And why not? The second you come into money, you pay off all those debts you owe, enjoying some of the poison yourself. Maybe you get a little rowdy, but its only one bar stool. Who cares that you broke it when you crashed down from your seat? And who does this guy think he is anyway, grabbing you when you're on the ground like he's trying to help you up. You know what will teach him? A firm head butt to the bridge of his nose. Now, for some reason, he seems really upset by that. Guess you better grab your keys, huh? Alcohol Use Disorder dictates your actions when you're drunk, and these behaviors are, mostly, absolutely unacceptable.

Your drink alone and in secret.

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Now that you've gotten yourself kicked out of another bar, you're only option is to drink at home. That's not so bad, right? Nobody can bother you, nobody will mooch beer or money from you. Seems to be that you're a functioning alcoholic, doesn't it? Now that such-and-such has heard you're not frequenting the town dive though, she invited you to her baby shower. You really, obviously, don't want to go, but she mentioned something about the reception being at that BBQ joint up the road with two-for-one specials. Doesn't that sound like the perfect event to pregame? Showing up to any event half-in-the-bag because you wanted to drink alcohol in solidarity is one of the sure-fired signs you're an alcoholic.

Your health has seriously been affected by alcohol use.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, your brain, heart, liver, pancreas, and immune system are all severely affected by problematic drinking habits. A problem with alcohol can increase your chances of getting cardiomyopathy, cirrhosis, and even cancer, all conditions that may lead to an untimely death. On top of that, maybe you've started picking up other habits (like the use of illegal narcotics or having unprotected sex with questionable partners) which will only exacerbate your substance abuse. All these hobbies are going to catch up with you eventually, and your body will bear the burden for only so long.

You continue to drink despite the glaring warning signs and issues its causing you.

Your fridge is empty, your water has been cut, and your mother doesn't even bother calling you anymore. Despite all of this, you still find a way to come up with money to get yourself a quart of booze to drink on your way to a doctor's appointment. Sure, your skin is slightly jaundice and you're sort of worried about your bloody urine, but as soon as you get a buzz, everything is going to be all right again.

You refuse to seek treatment programs.

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You've started drinking at the ripe age of 13 and, regardless of the warning signs or the people who love you trying to reign in your behavior, going to treatment facilities has never stayed in the forefront of your mind for any extended period of time. In fact, even the idea of alcohol treatment gives you shivers—or is that the shakes? Why would you go to meetings anyway? If you're exhibiting one of these signs you're an alcoholic, you probably think AA is for quitters. This step, though, is the most important step, of many, you will need to take in order to get your life back together.

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