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Signs & Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse

Tips on Identifying Problem Drinking
There are broadly two typical patterns of alcohol abuse:
  1. Early onset
  2. Late onset
Some people learn to drink early in life, and continue throughout their years. This is an early onset situation. There are others who don't start drinking abnormally until later in life, typically around a stressful or traumatic situation. Perhaps retirement has forced someone to change their lifelong habits. Perhaps the death of a spouse is the catalyst. At any rate, if a person begins drinking heavily later in life, this is late onset. In late onset drinking, there is almost always an accompanying array of emotions: loneliness, boredom, anxiety, depression, fear. At first, a drink seems to bring relief from these unwanted emotions. If the drinking continues and grows in volume, there can be a problem. Alcohol can become an unwanted friend.
Signs & Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse
Whether early or late onset drinking, there are certain warning signs that are unmistakable:
  • Drinking seems to calm the nerves, help forget worries, or reduce depression.
  • Gulping down drinks.
  • Frequently drink to excess.
  • Lie about, minimize, or try to hide drinking habits.
  • Hurt oneself, or another person, while drinking. This included physical, emotional, or verbal abuse or "accidents".
  • Need increasingly more alcohol to get "high" or to feel "relief".
  • Feel irritable, resentful, or unreasonable when not drinking.
  • Have medical, social, or financial worries brought about by drinking.
Alcohol Use & Aging
Anyone at any age can be plagued by problematic drinking. Some learn to drink early in life, and it becomes a way of life for them that carries on for years. Perhaps they're the life of the party when drinking. Or perhaps they're solitary, brooding, and/or abusive when they drink. Others falter into drinking patterns later in life. Whatever the situation, the drinker goes through a phase where they learn to release their problems into the false euphoria of drunkenness. Only after the habit turns on them does alcohol change from an ally to an unwanted enemy.
Many times children grow up around alcohol use that is abnormal, thinking and learning all the while that what they're seeing and experiencing is normal. What looks and feels like fun to an experimenting teenager or college student becomes an ugly and debilitating malady in later years. By whatever means, because the aging process affects how the body handles alcohol, the same amount of alcohol can have a greater effect as a person grows older. Over time, a person whose drinking habits haven't changed suddenly has a problem. It is wise for those around that person to take an honest appraisal of the situation. Consider calling the local Al-Anon Information Center, or go to a meeting. Educate yourself. Ultimately, you will be doing yourself, your family, and the drinker a large favor.
This page was written from information gleaned from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism (NIAAA).
Alcoholism is a family disease. Those of us who live with, or have have lived with, this disease as children or adults sometimes have problems which the Al-Anon program can help us to resolve. If you have answered yes to some of all of the above questions, Al-Anon may be of help to you. You can contact Al-Anon by checking your local telephone directory, or from the Resources page. Phone numbers and Contact Information for the Austin Area are listed on the Contact Page of this website.