Alcoholism Signs: When Do You Know You’re an Alcoholic?

Social drinking is a big part of our culture, which can lead many people to abuse alcohol without realizing that it’s become a problem. Alcohol abuse can damage your health, damage your relationships and create major problems in your life. But the biggest danger of alcohol abuse is developing a dependence on alcohol and becoming an alcoholic.

Alcoholism vs. Alcohol Abuse

People who abuse alcohol drink too much on a regular basis. Their abuse can be self-destructive or dangerous to others, but they are still able to demonstrate some control over their drinking and set limits. Alcohol abuse can become a long-term pattern that increases the risk for progressing into alcoholism.

Alcoholism, also called alcohol addiction or alcohol dependence, occurs when drinking alcohol becomes essential in order to function. Unlike alcohol abusers, alcoholics will experience uncontrollable drinking, craving, physical dependence and tolerance. An alcoholic will be unable to stop drinking despite severe physical and psychological consequences.

Physical and Mental Symptoms of Alcoholism

* Weight loss due to malnutrition
* Insomnia or oversleeping
* Unexplained nausea or sore stomach
* Redness of the face or cheeks
* Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
* Tremors or shaking
* Erectile dysfunction
* High blood pressure
* Increased irritability, agitation, anger and violence
* Excessive displays of emotion, such as uncontrolled crying

Alcoholism Signs: When Do You Know You’re an Alcoholic?

If you want to know if your alcohol abuse has crossed the line into alcoholism, ask yourself the following questions:

* Have you ever felt the need to cut back on your drinking?
* Do you get upset when people ask questions about your drinking?
* Do you feel guilty about your drinking?
* Do you hide your drinking from friends and family by hiding empty bottles or lying about consumption?
* Is it hard for you to stop drinking after one or two drinks?
* Do you often have to drink “the hair of the dog” in order to get over a hangover or steady the shakes in the morning?
* Do you consume more than seven alcoholic beverages a week?
* Do you keep alcohol in unusual places at home, work or in the car?
* Do you often drink to the point of blackout or passing out?
* When you’re sober do you regret what you’ve done while drinking?
*  Have you promised a loved one to stop drinking or cut back on your drinking and failed?
* Has your drinking caused problems meeting responsibilities at home, work or school?
* Do you worry that a party or social function won’t have enough alcohol so you have a few drinks before you go or bring your own?
* Have you had legal problems because of your drinking, such as a DUI?
* Do you experience withdrawal symptoms if you don’t drink, such as nausea, sweating and shaking?

Seeking Treatment: Alcohol Rehab

If you answered yes to more than one question above, you are at risk for alcoholism. Unfortunately, denial is a common characteristic of alcoholism, so itís highly unlikely that a person who is dependent on alcohol will seek medical treatment on their own. It often takes loved ones such as friends, family and co-workers to intervene and persuade a person to go to rehab.

If you feel like your drinking has become a problem, or you know someone who ís drinking has become out of control, an alcohol rehab facility is an important first step in the recovery process. Alcohol rehab will provide a variety of treatment options, including detox, counseling, group and individual therapy, residential treatment programs, education and family involvement.

Leave a Reply

27 Responses to “Alcoholism Signs: When Do You Know You’re an Alcoholic?”

  1. Amy

    I had my first drink May,5,2012 my second was October,8,2012 and my third November,12, 2013 so I was wondering am I an alcoholic because my family seems to think so and I don’t know what to believe anymore

  2. Shaw

    Amy, the frequency of your drinking doesn’t seem remarkable, so the next question is how you behaved WHILE you were drinking. Did you drink until you were sick? Did you black out? Did you behave in a way you wouldn’t have otherwise? Did you drive drunk or get arrested? If you answered yes to these questions you might want to look at your drinking more closely.

  3. Jim

    Am I an alcoholic?? I don’t think I’m in denial, but… I have drunk hard liquor excessively on occasions and regretted my actions from doing so. I have had several friends say that alcohol is not for me. Nevertheless, I can go without drinking for months or can have one beer at night and not even finish it. What does this mean? Does the type of alcohol really matter? I went to an AA meeting (voluntarily) yesterday and everyone was talking about it only takes one drink and then it’s over (their unable to control how many more they have). I don’t have that problem with beer, wine, or even hard liquor when I’m drinking at home. I don’t have shakes; I don’t think about having alcohol throughout the day or in the morning; and I usually only drink during the weekends. I have received a DUI within the last year. Am I an alcoholic?
    My own self-assessment is that I abuse alcohol from time to time, putting myself in harm’s way, and this behavior could lead to alcoholism.

    Thanks for your responses. I really want to know your thoughts. I just can’t see myself saying, “Hello, my name is Jim and I’m alcoholic or have this disease,” If I don’t think that I am. Am I in denial or am I blowing this out of proportion. Damn -Jim

  4. Tasy

    I drink about 2 glasses of whiskey almost everyday,does it make me an alcoholic?

  5. Sara

    I don’t know I’m confused I drink a 5th once a week to myself whiskey is my thing I answered yes 2 all but one question I’m scared and alone in this I find myself saying I’m done its bad for me but yet here I am drinking what do I do?

  6. caitlin

    hi there.
    I am now in my 40s and a mother of 3. I started drinking at the age of 14. I drank alot in my youth. so regularly abused alcohol. once I had kids I never drank during pregnancy and breastfeeding whichwas fine. because I knew I just couldn’t.. but now when I drink. I go from feeling ok to passing out! I keep saying, just one more. when I drink my attitude changes and I become hard. and I think I am undestructible. I don’t have to ttolerance which I used to have. but I think that I do. most times I drink now. I get sick. I am effecting my family.. and I drove the other night with my son in the car.
    if we have bottles of wine here. i don’t feel the need to drink. but socially I don’t think I can go out without drinking. I feel relaxed and happy when I drink. and the rest of the time I feel I am angry. I feel guilty most times I drink. My partner is an alcoholic but has been clean for 5 years. so this effects him deeply. I don’t always drink too much. but now days i would say every second time I am ill or passout. I don’t trust myself going out on my own because I don’t know what will happen to me. I fel it has now reached a very destructible stage. I feel terrified by the thought of not being able to ever drink again though. but I defintely can’t control it anymore. I offten deny any problems. but deep down i know there must be an issue. I keep thinking I know my limit. but I really don’t . I am not sure where to turn any more.

  7. Paula

    Caitlin….reading about you….is like reading about me. I drank in my 20’s but once I had kids I hadn’t had a drink in over 16 years. I did get divorced and still didn’t drink. Then I met my partner who drank. I found when he came over on the weekends and my 3 kids were gone drinking was soo much fun. It was such a release from the grind of the every day life as a mother. I kept it a bay for 2 years, just on the weekends without the kids. But the past 3 years I feel it has taken over me. I drink every night almost. sometimes until I black out…..I feel after all the stress of the day that is the one thing I look forward to. I always tell myself I will only have 3 cocktails and that is it….but rarely do I keep that promise. Uggh I feel ur pain….how did I lose control of this…..

  8. Betty

    My boyfriend has a drinking problem. I am at the end with him because it is ruining us. I don’t drink much at all so I am not sure how to cope!

  9. Betty

    My boyfriend has a drinking problem. I am at the end with him because it is ruining us. I don’t drink much at all so I am not sure how to cope!

  10. Austin

    Caitlin I am very new to alcohol, I’m barely 21. I really enjoy drinking and I essentially drink as much as I want. Please know that my opinion is based more on mild observation than substantial experience.

    To me it sounds like you’re already pretty honest with yourself in general, especially with alcohol. Based on your attitude I’d say you can make personal improvement easier than most who have issues with alcohol. You also seem to already know your consequences well, and the fact your partner has had problems with control should give you an advantage of insight on alcohol abuse.

    You don’t sound very confident in yourself. I feel like you’ve been through a lot and you’re drinking to feel stronger, less vulnerable.

    When you’re not drinking, why do you feel angry? I like drinking because it makes me feel relaxed and everything just seems so simple. I am definitely more easygoing after having alcohol but it’s not like I’m constantly angry while sober.

    Granted, our lives are very different. It’s certainly more complicated for you, having three children and a former alcoholic partner. But you don’t have to be angry all the time. My advice to you is to try to relax more without having to drink. Try to open up your attitude and not let things upset you so much.

    You don’t have to be hard or indestructible to deal with things, you’ll feel much more powerful if you let things go without using alcohol. I encourage you to set a goal for yourself, limiting or delaying drinking for a certain time. Try to drink less, or if you’re feeling strong try to go without drinking for a little while.

    And please, talk to your partner more about the way you feel. You’ve both shared so much and he can offer you a much more experienced point of view than I can. Talk about it as often as you want to, maybe instead of drinking you could both share some exclusive time together and just talk things out.

    In the end though, this is your own personal battle. You control how you act and and nobody can make your decisions for you. You already seem like a strong person and I hope you’ll continue to make decisions that improve your quality of life.

    Encouraged by your self-examination,
    – Austin

  11. Casa Palmera

    Thank you for your question however, not knowing your full medical history, it would be unethical to respond. Please consult your treating physician.

  12. Marc

    So lately, I have been drinking between a pint and a 5th of straight vodka everyday, if I run out I don’t know what to do with myself. I have had bad anxiety all my life and usually have difficulty falling asleep due to the high anxiety. I am a 27 yo Caucasian man. I often borrow money from family, usually lying what it’s for, just so I can have my bottle. I know when I stop drinking I won’t know how to handle the anxiety that I’m trying to remedy. I have no health insurance, so no therapy or psychiatrist. Liquor is so cheap and on every corner, I usually buy a fifth for 8 dollars and I hardly remember the last time I went to sleep sober, I’m usually amazed when I awake the next day to see most of the bottle gone, I won’t remember consuming so much. I have often made a butt of myself in public places due to my drinking and have thus become reclusive and anti social. I have few friends and I am often angry or full of bad memories and regret, sometimes my hands shake. My physical health Isnt where it should be, ive gained weight and my mind is cloudy.It’s just drinking provides this relief from all the mental tension and anguish I have. It’s the friend that always brings me up. It’s so easy not to think about it, I’ve considered going to an AA meeting, but social events make me nervous, I’m stuck in this vicious cycle and I am just beside myself. Is it so bad to be a drinker? I this normal? Please any supportive comments or advice would be much appreciated as I am unsure what to do, much thanks, Marc on the coast…

  13. Angel

    Ive been drinking since December it started out with a cup here and a cup there now every weekend i feel like i have to drink. Ive been drinking tall bottles of vodka for 6 weekends straight. I drink until i cant drink anymore and then on the weekdays i dream about the next time ill drink again. My father was a horrible alcoholic, at the rate im going im scared i wont even reach 21. Help!

  14. Casa Palmera

    Hi Angel – For help and more information about our programs and services please call 1-866-768-6719 or email

  15. Alan R.

    I been in all of yall shoes.Jesus haved saved me

  16. Alan R.

    Plz find me on facebook and inbox me for prayer

  17. lily

    I have just turned 40, and have been a big drinker since the age of ten, i have recieved medical help in the past but still i cant kick this habit, i only sleep a few hours a night and wake up sweating and shaking till i drink again, i panic in cars and cant control my fears unless im drunk. I thought i was good but recently my hands and arms get the strangest feelings, i drink strong cider prob 30 units a day, i black out often and some mornings feel like im dying. I dont want to feel alone and scared anymore. X

  18. Casa Palmera

    Hi Lily – Thank you for your comment. For help and more information on our services, programming and fees please call 1-866-768-6719 or email

  19. Taryn

    I’m 24 years old. For the past year I have been drunk every night… Save for one or two a month when I’ve been too hungover. It’s rare that I drink socially. Usually just a case of beer infront of the tv. I’ve gained a little weight and often look tired… But the alcohol has yet to cause any issue in my personal life, family, work. I think it’s because I keep it hidden. I don’t want to go to AA. I just want to be able to control my drinking. I wish I could drink socially.. But I know better than to think that I can go from this back to that. There’s a meeting down the street in a few hours. Maybe I’ll check it out.

  20. Casa Palmera Staff

    Hi Taryn – Please consult your local physician for additional help if you feel you may have a problem. For help and more information about our programs and services please call 1-866-768-6719 or email

  21. Paul

    I have an addictive personality like most in my family, there is a history of alcohol abuse.
    Right now I’m literally in tears because at 25 I feel like I’ve let everyone down, from friends and family. I’ve been to rehab twice and both times I’ve relapsed. Nothing seems to help.

    I don’t want to be a disappointment to my parents, even though I know I’ve already gone past that stage. I don’t drink hard liquor like Vodka/Whiskey etc, but on days i’ve drank the equivalent of 40+ units and I absolutly hate myself for that.
    Right now I’m I’m worried.

    I can hide it from everyone but my parents (I’m an only child) and I don’t want want them to outlive me. it would honestly crush them ,My G.P. doesn’t seem to care and I ‘ve gotten to the point where I’ve given up on him.

    I know I have nobody to blame but myself, but please, at least for my parents sake, can anyone give me advice? I’m not religious so that whole 12 step thing does nothing for me.

    I’m literally reaching out for help. The two centres I was at (9 months treated) me like dirt which didn’t help matters. I understand there are rules and regulations and followed them to a tee but they went over the top to humiliate me as I’m extremely introverted.

    I want to stop this right NOW.
    Is there any help you can offer?

  22. Casa Palmera Staff

    Please consider treatment again-somewhere. Addiction is not a behavior problem or a character deficit. It is a disease of relapse. Keep going to treatment until you can maintain recovery. There is no cure only recovery – one day at a time.

  23. Casa Palmera Staff

    Please consider going to treatment. Our Admissions staff can help you to better understand your situation at 858-481-4411.

  24. Samantha

    I think it sucks that people pour their hearts out and your website responds with the same robotic message every time!