“But I’m not an Alcoholic!”: The Hidden Signs of Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol addiction, like many other addictions, is not always obvious. In fact, the nature of addiction can lead people to conceal their habit, make excuses for it, and even convince themselves that they don’t have a problem. Many articles relating to spotting alcohol addiction are aimed at detecting a problem in someone we know. However, very few resources are designed to help us spot a potential problem in ourselves. Below are some of the signs to look out for if you’re concerned that you might have a problematic relationship with alcohol.
1. Making excuses to drink
The old adage “I need a drink!” after a long day is a common one. But using this kind of statement to excuse the need for a drink can be a sign of a dependency on alcohol. Using alcohol as a crutch to relieve stress is never healthy, and whilst it does not necessarily indicate addiction, it can be a warning sign that a dependency is present and/or growing.
2. Drinking alone or in secret
Drinking alone is one of the warning signs of alcohol addiction. However, someone with a dependency on alcohol will often overlook this sign by making excuses (as above). For example, it might include waiting until the kids have gone to bed before having a drink. Drinking in secret or simply away from others is a sign of overtly or even subconsciously trying to hide drinking habits from those we know and love. This may be done out of fear of judgement, without even realising that you have a problem. If you find yourself drinking alone often, or inadvertently trying to avoid admitting your drinking habits to others, this could be a sign of alcohol dependency.
3. Having hiding spots for alcohol
Having secret alcohol stashes is a clear yet often overlooked sign of alcohol addiction. Once again, hiding alcohol may be masked with excuses, such as trying to keep alcoholic drinks away from kids or guests. If you find yourself keeping alcohol in more than one or two spots around the house, consider your reasons for doing this. Is it really necessary? Are you concealing alcohol supplies so that those you live with will not notice how much you are drinking? Would you happily admit how much you’ve had to drink this week to those you love? If any of these questions make you feel uncomfortable, it might be time to reassess your relationship with alcohol.
4. Concealing how much you drink?
On that note, being dishonest or avoiding talking about the amount that you drink can be another hidden sign of alcohol addiction. If you find yourself being less than truthful with friends, family, colleagues or even a practitioner about the amount of alcohol you consume, you could be battling with alcohol dependency which you weren’t even aware you had. Now’s the time to get help.
5. A change in drinking habits
Often, people with an alcohol addiction will switch from drinking their preferred drinks to drinking things like vodka or gin. This is because clear spirits are easier to disguise and therefore harder for others to detect. A sudden switch from your usual drink to a clear spirit might indicate either a conscious or subconscious desire to hide your drinking from others.
6. A strong focus on alcohol at events
Have you ever found yourself asking “What drinks will be provided?” or “Are drinks included?” when it comes to accepting event invitations? A strong focus on the level of alcohol present at events can indicate a dependency on alcohol. Likewise, if you find yourself uninterested in attending events where your access to alcohol will be limited, this is another indication of dependency. Ask yourself, “Would I be less likely to want to attend a friend’s wedding if there was no alcohol available?”
7. Drinking to calm nerves or drinking more than planned
Whilst many of us can enjoy a couple of drinks at an event, at a family function, or even on a date – if you find yourself drinking to the point of getting tipsy or drunk just to calm your nerves, you might just be suffering from alcohol addiction. If you tend to say to yourself “I’ll just have one or two drinks tonight” and then find yourself consuming more than intended, this can be one of the hidden signs of alcohol addiction.
It’s important to remember that not all alcoholics look alike in their symptoms. Many high-functioning alcoholics will maintain successful work and family lives whilst secretly struggling with addiction. If you recognise your own behaviours in one or more of the hidden signs of addiction listed above, it might be time to reassess your relationship with alcohol and seek help to understand your dependency. Read our most recent article, The #SOBERCURIOUS movement: Are you ready to give drinking a break? for more information about the movement towards reducing alcohol assumption and becoming more aware of your relationship with alcohol.
If you would like to better understand your drinking habits and how they affect your life and your health, or if you’d like help to break the hold that alcohol has over your life, get in touch with Integrated Health Specialists today. We specialise in treating addictions by uncovering the deepest beliefs, emotions and behaviours which trigger them. We can successfully change your relationship with alcohol using a number of extremely effective techniques, including hypnotherapy, counselling, Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), and more.