Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on September 22, 2020.
If you feel a loved one is behaving strangely or is frequently consuming alcohol, you may be looking at the signs of alcohol addiction. It's common for high-functioning alcoholics to exhibit odd behaviors and changes in mood. Examine the attitudes and actions of your loved one to decide if they need help confronting an alcohol addiction.
The following behaviors could be indicative of a secret addiction to alcohol.
Drinking alcohol is typically social behavior. Some alcoholics may still drink in social situations, but they'll also drink alone because they may feel shame over their need to continue drinking. Others may avoid social situations, preferring to drink alone so they can hide how much alcohol they're consuming.
It's extremely common for alcoholics, secret or otherwise, to drink too much in a single sitting as well as over time. Excessive consumption can seem compulsive or uncontrollable and may happen every time a person has one drink. It's also a red flag if a person cannot go a day without having at least one drink.
Blacking out, or losing control and forgetting about their actions while drinking, is a common occurrence for an alcoholic. A person is more at risk for blackouts the more they have them, and they're more likely to black out during heavy drinking sessions. These episodes can be particularly dangerous because individuals can get lost or hurt while under the influence.
Denying or making light of alcoholism is a common alcohol addiction sign. Maybe they know deep down they have a problem, but they haven't experienced any real negative consequences to confirm it. Joking about alcoholism is a way to shift attention from addictive behavior and maintain a sense of control.
When someone heavily consumes alcohol over time, they're likely to develop a higher alcohol tolerance. While it might take the average person two or three drinks to feel buzzed, a secret alcoholic will need to drink much more to feel the effects of alcohol.
On top of losing memories during blackouts, excessive drinking can lead to memory loss throughout the day. Too much alcohol consumption over a long time can lead to long-term memory loss. If your loved one constantly forgets things — especially if they are younger — and they drink heavily, they might have an alcohol addiction.
While individuals who are frequently intoxicated may be good at keeping it a secret when they are under the influence, alcohol still has a chemical effect on the brain. When someone is under the influence, they can be irritable, angry and reactive. It's also common for binge drinkers to develop depression.
If you're worried about your loved one's relationship to alcohol, Diamond House Detox has programs designed for addiction recovery. With our medical model of treatment and private facilities in Northern California, we use evidence-based solutions to help our clients. Contact us to learn more about our treatment program.