Alcohol misuse and dependence—Know the signs

signs of alcohol misuse

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Last updated:
04/29/2021

Alcohol misuse and dependence are problems that can be challenging to manage, because changes need to be gradual. It’s easy for alcoholics to slip back into old behaviors, but you’ll be able to identify them when they do by looking for these signs:

  • Drinking in risky situations or amounts.
  • Spending a lot of time getting or drinking alcohol.
  • Unexplained falls in grades at school or work.
  • Drinking each day until drunk.
  • Concerns expressed about alcohol use by friends and family members.
  • Ongoing use despite physical health problems caused by it.
  • Blackouts of the day’s events.
  • Use of alcohol to relieve negative emotions.
  • Unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control drinking.
  • Drinking alcohol to get rid of withdrawal symptoms.

If you or someone you care about has one or more of these problems, it’s time to get help.

It can be difficult for people with alcohol problems to seek help because they often feel too ashamed or guilty. They may fear being rejected by family and friends if they admit their problem. They may also have a physical dependence on alcohol, which makes them uncomfortable when they stop drinking. But there are alcohol treatment programs available to help people with alcohol problems make positive changes in their lives.

Excessive alcohol use causes symptoms affecting the body, thoughts and behavior. Here’s what you need to know about alcohol use disorder symptoms and treatment