“Am I an Alcoholic?” – 11 simple signs
Updated: Jan 14
Alcoholism is a disease of the mind and body. Those afflicted, like Mike and Glenn - and millions of others - have little defense against the mighty strength of its grip. No wonder drug cures chemical and psychological drinking problem. No self-help method relieves its destructive grasp.
By best guess, the majority of adults in the world do not suffer from this disease. Those free from alcoholism responsibly consume alcohol, and life carries on as intended and without noticeable adverse effects.
Alcoholics, on the other hand, end up in a place that they never intended to end up: Usually psychologically broken and physically beaten. This is never a desire of the heart.
Could we have seen the early warning signs and changed the course of our destiny? This is an easy question to ask in retrospect. Are there warning signs that could have been paid attention to early on?
The following question has been asked, through search engines, hundreds of thousands of times a month: what are the early signs of alcoholism? This post is intended to touch on some of those early warning signs. What follows were identifiable indicators that were discussed on a recent sober.coffee episode that you can hear here. This list of eleven cautions may be incomplete and is presented in no particular order, but it should serve as a conversation starter.
“I found myself, early on, magneting to other drinkers” or understood more broadly: “birds of a feather flock together.” Though alcoholism turns out for many to be a solo experience, the party usually starts in groups, and that, for us, was an early indicator that we were reaching for social acceptance of our behavior.
This plays out in two ways. #1, the quantity of days we are consuming in a week or month is growing and #2, the amount that we consume on any given day or event, is concerning. It comes down to this question: is the intake pattern increasing over time? One could quickly review their financial records if they're brave enough to do so to answer the question. Even the slightest, if consistent, increase could indicate bad times to come.
Rarely does one forget the first drink. Usually, it is not the most pleasant of experiences, but the pleasure we recall is the feeling we try to recapture. The normal cycle of an alcoholic tends to require progressively more intake to achieve the same outcome (which ultimately eludes us). If, upon reflection, we have gone from two drinks to four drinks to six drinks to eight to evoke a feeling, we should admit that our tendencies are alcoholic.
Does the thought of a drink or drug monopolize our mind.? Do we approach a setting and plan how the drink will frame the event? Our experience is; a pattern of increased focus on how we would integrate and alter our psyche to get through a set. If planning is a priority, then psychology is a problem.
Pre and post preparations
Do I need a quick hit before an event? Do I need a little something to put me to sleep afterward? Or worse, do I need to carry some near my body just in case I need it? These physical and mental preparations cause worry, even if only loosely practiced. The fact is that if you are consumed about consumption, then there is cause for concern.
Honest reflection and expression
Do we lie to others and ourselves about the amount of consumption? How many times have we been asked, “why are you so drunk - How many drinks did you have?” only to answer, “just a couple or just a few.” How often have we woken up and attempted to account for our intake? Being honest with ourselves and others is a cornerstone to recovery and should be a starting point in self-examination.
Excuses like “I hadn't got enough sleep,” “I didn't have anything in my stomach,” or “I forgot I took a pain pill” are, as stated, excuses. These defenses have been used by Glenn and Mike thousands of times over the years. Reflective analysis concedes that they were half-truths as they were premeditated actions to enhance intoxication.
Choosing booze over batter
Food is a buzzkill. Solids interrupt the cycle of the desired inebriation. It dilutes the effect of drunkenness by absorbing the alcoholic content from one's bloodstream. Once we choose booze over food, we have crossed the unsettling line. Not only is this an early sign of alcoholism, but it is also physically damaging and could cause irrevocable biological harm.
On-set of withdrawal symptoms
Are we shaking uncontrollably? Are we nauseous and fatigued? Is our head uncomfortable or pounding? Understanding our body’s reactions to drug and alcohol consumption is key to knowing the level of our addiction and to what extent our attention should be.
Alcohol is causing problems in life
Problems caused by alcohol use tend to start small: We miss an event, we piss somebody off, we're late for work, we are physically unable to engage the next day, and so on. This does not cause alarm if it happens infrequently, but when the cycle shortens and the problems increase by any degree, one should slow down and stay sober long enough to analyze the root of the difficulties.
Driving while intoxicated
Operating a motor vehicle under the influence, regardless of what we believe our capabilities are, is dangerous, illegal, and intolerable behavior. A true sign of alcoholism can be found in that moment of consciousness when one defends their decision to turn that ignition key. Glenn and Mike made that terrible decision many times and know now that was an early warning sign of things to come.
If you are bothered about your alcohol consumption, we ask you to analyze this particular early warning sign and beg you to get the available help today. Nobody should have to end up losing everything, and we mean everything, because of this one decision. If you have convinced yourself that you can operate a motor vehicle, buzzed or drunk, we can assure you that you possess alcoholic tendencies that need immediate treatment.
The repeated cycle of regret, remorse, shame, and guilt
How often do we wake up feeling terrible about what did happen, or may have occurred, the previous day? No one word captures that hollow feeling of self-disappointment - the internal unhappiness - that follows an unplanned bender. If blurred memories or blackouts are part of the story, then we boldly declare that alcoholism should be the focus narrative.
If you're thinking about asking questions related to alcoholism for yourself, we would suggest that you are in a place to pay attention to that thought. And pay attention to the list above. We would advise you to take your concerns to the people who surround you in love and your medical advisor.
We can assure you that a solution exists for those who are alone and desperate. Reach out as you need others to succeed at changing the story – rewriting the ending.
For those that stumbled upon this blog post in a quest to understand the behavior of their loved one, We caution you to be less than optimistic that this article, or any information for that matter, will change the course of their dependency.
Alcoholism is an inside job. Nobody causes it, and nobody cures it by themselves. You can send them a copy of this article (though we don't encourage it), you can beg, you can plead, you can love, you can tough love, but until they get it themselves, make the acknowledgment and move forward there is nothing in your power that you can do. We wish we had a better answer for you, but until the alcoholic understands they are an alcoholic and understands that there, in fact, is a solution for them, they will not change for the better. That is a sad commentary, but the reality that the disease delivers.
We hope and pray for all those that are still out there suffering. We pray that they find it within themselves to want the change and then plug into a proven solution that we have seen in the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Make today the day of surrender. Forfeit to its grip, as we promise strength in “letting go.” Undo the clinging to the ego that surrounds the belief that “I can do this myself” (look, it hasn't worked in the past, and we can promise it won't work in the future).
Start healing today:
Mike and Glenn: US 630-401-8583
May God bless you and keep you until then.
Thoughts and ideas for this blog post were taken and built upon from sober.coffee podcast #90 Titled: “#Trending Series: Pt 4: Early Signs of Alcoholism ” The podcast dropped on 12/14/2022 click here to hear the podcast
Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions does not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication, nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be thought of as a substitute for advice of healthcare professionals. The authors advice and viewpoints are their own.