The Road to Alcohol Addiction: Recognizing the Stages of Abuse
A fun night out with friends is likely to include a drink or two, particularly if you enjoy having a glass of wine or beer with dinner. However, if evenings out include that one friend who seems to drink to excess and spends the next day nursing a bad hangover, you are probably concerned that he or she might have a problem with alcohol. People binge drink for different reasons, but before you can take steps to help, it is important that you learn to identify the stages of alcohol abuse that occur before full-blown alcoholism develops.
Binge Drinking Episodes Increase
One initial sign that your friend might be drinking too much is an increase in binge drinking. For example, episodes increase from weekend binging to being drunk once or twice during the week as well. Your friend might blame the episodes on work stress or explain that he or she is simply trying to wind down from a hard day. During these binges, your friend might even experiment with new types of alcohol, such as mixing beer with whiskey or rum.
Alcohol is Kept in the House
You may see drinking as a social activity, but an individual who is becoming increasingly addicted to alcohol will start to bring his or her booze home. You may see wine, beer, or spirits as a new presence in your friend’s home or if he or she has always had it around, there may be more of it present than usual.
If the person in question tends to hide their alcohol stores out of sight, this could be a sign that he or she is trying to keep their increased drinking habits a secret. Common hiding spots are in bathroom cabinets, closets, and underneath furniture.
Alcohol Impacts Everyday Life
As your friend starts to drink every day, you may start seeing an increase in problems in his or her personal life. Increased drinking can affect almost every area of a person’s life, including relationships with friends, work performance, and the consequences of binge drinking can put a serious strain on a romantic relationship. Signs that your friend is drinking more every day might include missing work, being late for appointments or canceling them completely, and becoming reclusive so he or she can stay home to drink.
Dependence on Alcohol Increases
One of the final stages of becoming an alcoholic is an increasing dependence on alcohol to function on a daily basis. Your friend may drink before he or she goes to a social outing, to work, and to escape the reality of what the drinking might be causing. At this point, intervention may be required and you can help your friend look into rehab centers so he or she can seek treatment for their growing addiction. While he or she may be resistant to the idea at first, do not give up on trying to help because when it is caught early on, alcohol addiction may still be cured with the right kind of treatment.
It is never easy to watch a friend travel down the road toward alcoholism. However, if you learn the signs of alcohol abuse, you may be able to intervene before it is too late.