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Why are Knowing Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse Important?


I had a book club the other week.

A friend of mine who has been known to drink a lot was talking over all of us, slurring her words, and drinking out of a mug.

I couldn’t say for sure she was drinking but her behavior led me to believe she was.

I am in recovery and her behavior was annoying and disrespectful to me.

These signs can be used as a lesson to understand when someone has had too much to drink.

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Why is it important to know the symptoms of alcohol abuse?

The biggest reason is in certain situations it could save someone’s life.

It could save your own life.

You could be the person that recognizes that your friend has had one too many.

Taking their keys away from them could prevent their death, or someone else’s.

Asking them to stay because you notice them stumbling could prevent them from doing something they will regret later.

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Whatever case it may be, it is useful to understand and know the symptoms of alcohol abuse. One of the biggest reasons why is someone who has had too many may argue with you. They may say they are fine. That they had a cup of coffee, ate some food, and have sobered up. If you are well versed in facts and signs you could help save someone’s life.

Noticing the Symptoms During the Holidays

The holidays are a prime time for parties and whether you are hosting or attending a party it doesn’t hurt to recognize a few basic signs. The tricky part is somebody who is under the influence might have tricks or ways of denying that they have an issue or are incapable of functioning.

The World Health Organization states that 8-10 drinks a week is what is considered excessive. I never used to give a second thought to having a few beers after work. That was until I went to rehab. Having a few drinks was nothing compared to the 7 or 8 I would have on weekend evenings. That didn’t count the day drinking before brunch. I definitely got to a point where I got good at hiding the symptoms of alcohol abuse. As an alcoholic you learn how to hide things, especially when it comes to your drinking.

As I mentioned, I ended up going to rehab at Resurgance Recovery. Since then, I’ve been in recovery, I’ve maintained sobriety, I have been one of the lucky ones to move forward with my life in a positive way. I have a strong support system and the great program and staff at Resurgance Recovery to thank for that. It was only my support system’s ability to see what a problem I had and plan an intervention that saved my life.

They couldn’t have helped me without understanding the extent of the problem I had. The issue with so many people that are under the influences is that unless you know the signs you are not able to call them out. It’s important to remember that even if someone isn’t showing all of these signs that they could be hiding them. For the sake of making the signs easy to identify I’ve put them into two categories. Physical signs and behavioral signs. 

Physical Signs

One of the easiest physical signs is someone’s breath. If their breath reeks of booze most likely they have had one too many. If they are trying to hide their intake, they might do something like chew gum to hide the fact that they have had too many. Someone may even have coffee to “sober” up. The notion of coffee sobering someone up immediately is a myth. According to information from the NIH even after a cup of coffee it can take hours for alcohol to stop having an effect on the body.  Having a piece of gum or a cup of coffee will not save a person if they are pulled over by a cop on their way home.

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Another surefire way to understand if someone has had too much to drink or has abused alcohol is if they are slurring their speech. It might be subtle. It doesn’t have to mean they are downright out of it. But if you hear it, you can be assured that they have abused alcohol. The volume of someone’s voice may be altered as well. Whereas someone is usually quiet, all of the sudden they are very loud. Their inhibitions are loosening, and they have most likely consumed one too many alcoholic beverages.

Behavioral Signs

I have witnessed a lot of bad behavior in my days of drinking. Friends going home with people they just barely met. Friends losing awareness of their surroundings and leaving their purses out, and later realizing that their wallet was stolen. Friends tripping and falling from having a lack of balance. Friends drinking more when you know they have had enough.

There are more subtle signs though. Perhaps you are explaining something simple to a person that has been drinking and they can’t follow your line of thinking and their responses do not make sense. This is a sign that they have had too much to drink.  Some people may seem like are confident and able to engage in conversation but will be talking too loudly, or have trouble remembering things you just told them.

The best idea if you will be putting yourself in a situation where there could be abuse of alcohol is to have a plan. The NIH has done studies of effectiveness of preventing drunk driving and a few ideas are to have a sober driver on hand, take people’s keys, offer them a place to stay, and have lots of food and water available.

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The signs of alcohol abuse can be subtle or downright obvious.

No matter what recognizing them is crucial to the safety of you and your loved ones.

Especially during this pandemic, decreasing your own alcohol use and understanding the signs to help others is a good idea.

Alexa Iocco

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