Man hides hides his alcohol problem

5 Subtle Signs That You Might Have a Drinking Problem

By Nina Bradshaw is a professionally qualified social worker and therapist in the UK. She earned a Master's Degree in Personality Disorder Studies, a Master's Degree in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and a Master's Degree in Sociology/Social Policy/Social Work.

Sober Recovery Expert Author

Man hides hides his alcohol problem

For about a decade before I finally quit drinking, I knew in my heart that I had a problem. I just didn’t take serious action to tackle this because I refused to see the truth. The signs I was ignoring were obvious in retrospect, but I carried on turning a blind eye. I thought that I didn’t have a serious problem because I was “functioning.”

I held down a job and managed to keep my household going. I also wasn’t in the gutter, drunk in the mornings, nor was I living a life at “the margins” of society. However, while those are indeed sure fire indicators of an alcohol problem, there are less noticeable ways to spot possible alcoholism without having to hit such lows. Here are 5 signs you can look out for if you suspect you’ve developed a drinking problem.

Checking off most of these signs means you have to think very carefully about the reasons why you work so hard to hide your drinking habit.

1. Feeling paranoid that you smell of booze.

If you often find yourself avoiding people, or not standing too close to them out of fear of breathing boozy breath on them from the night before, the chances are you have a problem. Likewise, chewing gum or sucking on mints to cover the smell of booze is a good indicator that you are probably drinking way too much that you don’t want others to know.

2. Drinking to relieve a hangover.

If you find yourself drinking the “hair of the dog” to get through the hangover of the day before, then you too may be hiding your problem from yourself. Most people who drink to excess on one occasion will steer clear for the next few days or weeks to allow their body and mind time to recover.

3. Never admitting how much you actually drank the night before.

People whose drinking has become an issue also use evasive tactics to lie to both themselves and those around them as the drinking becomes a constant source of shame. Do you find yourself hiding the full amount you have been drunk? Do you feel embarrassed at the amount of empties in your trash? These are all tell-tale signs that you are drinking too much.

4. Hiding booze around the house.

Do you tuck away booze around the house or take extra drinks when other people are out of the room in order to get drunker? If you find yourself preloading or “topping up” your alcohol throughout the day or night, you need to get help. This is a sign that the problem is getting out of hand.

5. Changing where you shop for booze to avoid perceived as alcoholic.

People with problematic drinking are more paranoid about what people think of their drinking habit. They will go to great lengths to avoid the perception that they might be alcoholic. Many begin shopping in different stores in order to avoid seeing the same shopkeeper or other shoppers out of fear of being judged or found out.

Checking off most of these signs means you have to think very carefully about the reasons why you work so hard to hide your drinking habit. Most of all, know that the earlier you come out and face this problem, the sooner you’ll be able to free yourself from the shackles that increasingly limit your quality of life.

If you or someone you know is seeking help with alcohol addiction, please visit our directory of treatment centers or call 866-606-0182 to start the path to recovery today.

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