Signs You're Addicted to Alcohol

How to Know If You’re Addicted to Alcohol

Recognizing the signs of alcohol addiction isn’t always easy. Alcohol is a socially acceptable drug and is often enjoyed in social gatherings and celebrations, but also quiet dinners or at the end of a long work week. Alcohol consumption can transition from occasional to problematic without knowing for sure if there’s a problem. 

Seeking treatment for an alcohol use disorder first requires learning how to tell if you’re addicted to alcohol. At Massachusetts Center for Addiction, we’re equipped to help you or your loved one with a thorough evaluation to determine if there’s an alcohol addiction diagnosis. Our team is compassionate and experienced in treating alcohol addiction, and we want to help. Contact us at 844-486-0671 to schedule an assessment. 

If you are looking for more resources on alcohol addiction, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offers an online provider directory, a 24-hour National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357), and many other resources for individuals and their families looking for help. 

Signs of Alcohol Addiction 

Alcoholism is a disease, just like every other type of addiction. While each person travels their own journey with alcohol use, there are several common signs that an individual has developed an addiction, or is very close to reaching that point.

Alcohol Consumption Is Difficult to Control

One of the first signs of being addicted to alcohol is losing control over consumption. You might find that you go out, intending to have one or two drinks, but end up consuming to the point of excess, possibly blacking out. Controlling or limiting alcohol consumption is something that is either difficult or feels impossible to do.

It’s Difficult To Get Through the Day without Drinking

You might find it difficult to make it through an entire day without consuming alcohol. You might be so anxious to have a drink after work. To hold you over, you stop on the way home for a “quick one.” Alternatively, you might immediately head to the liquor store at the end of the day.

Going a full day without alcohol may leave you with symptoms of withdrawal and mood changes that make you feel irritable, anxious, or withdrawn.

Work or Academic Performance Is Being Affected

Alcohol addiction often interferes with work or academic performance. It could be that you’re suffering from withdrawal symptoms earlier in the day, or that your mind is preoccupied with thoughts of drinking. Excessive alcohol use can also impair mood and cognitive abilities, which can make certain work or academic situations more challenging.

Being Secretive About Drinking

Individuals who have a normal, healthy relationship with alcohol don’t usually feel the need to hide their drinking or become secretive about their habits. This secretiveness often comes from a fear that someone will question alcohol intake and then confront them about it.

Self-medication with Alcohol

When you have a bad day, is having a drink at the top of your mind? When you’re stressed or something bad happens, is a drink the first thing you reach for? A tendency to self-medicate with alcohol is a key indicator in identifying alcoholism.

Drinking Alone

Having an occasional drink by yourself isn’t an indicator of alcoholism. However, if it’s a common occurrence, you might want to consider an assessment for a possible alcohol addiction diagnosis. Individuals with alcohol addiction often drink by themselves so that others can’t witness the amount and frequency of alcohol consumption.


Each person has a level of tolerance to alcohol. There are various factors, including individual physiology and metabolism that can affect tolerance. However, when an individual regularly consumes alcohol to the point of intoxication, they begin to develop a higher tolerance. This means that they begin to require more of the substance, in this case alcohol, to achieve the same results. This can be a sign of addiction.

Mood Changes

Addiction is a disease that is often accompanied by mood changes, including anxiety, irritability, depression, and anger. These mood changes can be sudden and unpredictable, putting stress on relationships, and fueling a need for isolation.

You’re Noticing Signs of Withdrawal When You Wake Up

When a person is addicted to a substance such as alcohol, and then goes an amount of time without the substance, the body begins to go through withdrawal. Many people believe withdrawal only occurs after detoxing for at least a day. However, it’s possible to experience symptoms upon waking. This can happen after not having any alcohol for the hours spent sleeping.

Signs of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Alcohol cravings
  • Shakiness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Rapid heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Fever

Family and Friends Have Expressed Concern

Those who are closest to you, including family and friends may have noticed your drinking habits and how they have affected your life. Family and friends might approach you with their concerns and suggest seeking treatment. It’s common to initially react defensively. However, we encourage you to listen to those who care deeply about you and consider their advice to seek help for alcohol use disorder.

What To Do If You Think You Have a Problem with Alcohol

When an individual contacts us at the Massachusetts Center for Addiction for help with alcohol addiction, our initial step is to conduct an alcohol addiction assessment. This process enables our experienced clinical staff to gain a deeper understanding of the severity of the addiction and any underlying factors, such as trauma and mental health issues.

It also provides an opportunity to discuss potential treatment options with the individual and to develop a personalized care plan that addresses their specific needs.

Remember, you don’t have to face this alone. There are resources available to help you overcome your struggles with alcohol.

Finding Treatment for Alcohol Addiction in Massachusetts

When you’re ready to take back control of your life from alcohol addiction, we’re here to help. Contact the Massachusetts Center for Addiction for a complementary assessment and to have your questions answered today. Reach us at 844-486-0671

MCA Staff
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