4 signs your friend loved one drinks too much

4 Signs Your Loved One Or Friend Drinks Too Much

What is considered drinking too much?

From a psychological, social, and physical standpoint, knowing if a loved one or friend drinks too much is subjective. For instance, some couples or families have dinner over a bottle of wine. Others may love tailgating with friends at a weekend football game where alcohol use is the norm. When drinking or getting drunk is part of someone’s social construct, it’s challenging to see misuse or dependency.

There’s also the issue of alcohol tolerance. For instance, research shows a genetic component in a person’s ability to get drunk or crave alcohol. So it’s hard to tell when someone is a problem drinker.

The question lies in how alcohol use impacts the individual’s quality of life and those around them. It also lies in their inability to stop drinking even after trying. 

If you think a loved one or friend drinks too much, you’ve probably recognized one or more of these 4 signs.


1. The math adds up.

While alcohol dependency varies, you can use math to gauge if someone drinks too much. Social drinking equates to 1-2 drinks in one sitting or 7-14 drinks per week. Gray area drinking usually falls between here and the figures for binge drinking. Excessive drinking starts at 4-5 drinks per sitting, roughly 28-35 drinks per week. This figure equals multiple binge drinking sessions per week.

According to the NIAAA, more than 25% of American adults binge drink at least once per month. So if you’re close to your loved one, do the math. High numbers mean excessive alcohol use. 


2. It’s not fun without drinks.

Most alcohol is consumed in social settings, but all social settings aren’t alcohol-appropriate. Yet, your friend or loved one can’t participate without bringing beer or suggesting alcohol. It’s difficult for your loved one to have a sober event or be entertained without drinking, and everything seems to revolve around alcohol use. Typical examples include alcohol around a child’s Little League game, an important work gathering, or a church event. 


3. They are self-medicating.

With all the challenges in today’s world, stress is at an all-time high. While there are several ways to manage stress, it’s not uncommon for people to turn to alcohol instead. For instance, stress makes men and women almost 2 times as likely to drink. 

Self-medicating occurs when someone uses alcohol to cope with anxiety, stress, depression, or PTSD. For instance, your friend or loved one is likely going through a general stressor like divorce, job loss, or problems with children. In some cases, a childhood stressor can resurface after a traumatic interaction. 

Your friend encourages you to go out drinking and talk about it since it is easier to express yourself with alcohol. Self-medication is often a sign of a dual diagnosis, a mental disorder alongside alcohol or drug misuse. 


4. Drinking affects their personal life.

As a spectator, you can see when alcohol abuse negatively affects your loved one’s quality of life. Sometimes they see it, too but continue to drink anyway. One or more driving under the influence (DUI) charges are typical signs. They may behave aggressively toward spouses, kids, or other loved ones. Work altercations are common. 

Most friends or loved ones won’t see these signs until it’s too late. Friends and family play a crucial role. If they see destructive behaviors, they must raise them with the drinker. A question as simple as, “Have you ever felt the need to reduce your drinking?” can open the door to discussion and possible solutions.


A collaborative approach

Continue to provide support if your friend or loved one decides to take action. Of course, cutting back or stopping drinking altogether can be easier said than done, so collaborating to achieve a common goal can help.

For instance, drinking can be linked to the individual’s environment and social circles. If their closest friends or loved ones drink or play drinking games, it’s likely that they drink too. Helping them cultivate different social spaces in enriching yet alcohol-free environments can help. If they can replace one unhealthy habit with a constructive one, the chances of success increase significantly. 

You can also become an accountability partner, helping them identify when they’ve exceeded an agreed-upon limit in one sitting. Finally, tie the consequences of binge drinking to a high-stakes result, like a fine. While these tips may help, anyone who believes they may have alcohol dependence or alcohol use disorder (AUD) should seek professional help immediately. 


Turning to the pros.

Some who drink too much may have trouble quitting on their own. Alcohol use disorder takes away the brain’s control, so seeking help from a doctor or specialist team can help. These experts will suggest an alcohol screening test to determine if the patient has mild, moderate, or severe AUD. 

From there, several resources can help decrease alcohol use. 

Individual sessions, group coaching, and peer-support groups are common examples. Having a network of accountability can help them gradually reduce alcohol use, then receive the necessary help to get to the root of the problem. 

It’s not uncommon for people with alcohol addiction to have withdrawal symptoms several days after quitting alcohol, known as Delirium Tremens (DTs). Treating the condition safely is vital and may sometimes require rehab and medical intervention. 


Combining treatment with technology

People want faster, more convenient ways to address life’s challenges. Now there are programs like ours that provide virtual, on-demand guidance and access to medication like naltrexone, which blocks the endorphins behind alcohol cravings. 

These are just 4 of many signs that someone is struggling with alcohol. If you have a gut feeling that your friend or loved one drinks too much, even if it’s gray area drinking, don’t hesitate to address it. Be gentle but direct, providing clear examples to drive your point home. 

It can take people a long time to realize problem drinking since these conversations can be emotional. Be patient and non-judgmental to avoid resistance. 

You must also respect their boundaries as they process the information and decide how they will face it. Excess alcohol use can lead to severe health, financial, and social risks if left unaddressed. An intervention by a friend or loved one could be the catalyst for recovery. 

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