Many of us drink alcohol for recreational or celebratory purposes which doesn’t result in alcohol addiction or alcoholism. On that same token, some of us have drank more than we intended to on occasion, this is considered “normal”. Throughout our lives, we are exposed to the idea that we should ‘have a drink to have a good time.
Drinking is a Commonly Used for Marketing
We have watched this marketing tactic in movies, sitcoms, and commercials. Many of us here in the United States even watch football games every Sunday with a beer or alcoholic beverage in hand, waiting until the final game occurs which is broadcast across the United States.
Many sit and cheer on their favorite team while the others grow in excitement over the notorious commercials. The whole day has nearly become a tradition across the United States. The commercials are known for their sentiments or amusing skits. One brand produces content for its beer company each year to broadcast. Thus creating more viewership and a lax perception of alcohol consumption.
The reality though is that even though alcohol consumption is ingrained into our daily lives it can come at a cost. This blog is intended to bring awareness to what is considered average recreation alcohol consumption vs. alcoholism and why so many of us try to hide it.
Those of us that have experienced a loved one, a friend, maybe even ourselves facing addiction knows that when alcoholism strikes, it impacts everyone. Alcoholism not a disorder only reserved for those who overuse alcohol. The disorder impacts the whole ecosystem of family, friends, and associates of those affected by those that hide their alcoholism. To put alcoholism into perspective provided below are some findings provided by SAMHSA.
Alcoholism Facts and Statistics
Annually, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides its results from the national survey they conduct over drug use/alcoholism and mental health. Their findings provide estimates each year. They include the number of people and their demographics within the United States that use or abuse specific substances and/or encountered mental health difficulties and other diseases like alcoholism.
Some of their findings of people across the United States in 2018, twelve years and older, were:
- Throughout the United States, there are an estimated 139.8 million people that use alcohol.
- Out of those millions of people, there are 67.1 million that binge drink alcohol.
- 16.6 million that heavily use alcohol.
- 14.8 million people were diagnosed with alcoholism.
- There were 51.1 million that admitted to past month use of alcohol.
- 24.5 million recorded as past month binge alcohol drinking.
- 6.1 million estimated as past month heavy alcohol drinking.
These numbers or estimates are only a small glimpse of substance use in the United States.
The National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) provides a plethora of information, jingles, notices, campaigns, and warnings each year to reduce the number of impaired drivers on the road. With the growth of rideshare companies across the United States, there is no excuse to get behind the wheel after the consumption of alcohol. However, as recent as 2017, there were 10,874 lives lost due to drunk driving collisions.
Hiding Alcoholism: The Signs That You May Need Help
As a society, we can and need to strive for better, especially when it comes to how we handle alcoholism and substance abuse. Although the numbers are declining in regards to alcohol use disorder or alcoholism it is still a battle many of us face within ourselves, our family, or even our business associates. There are many indications of someone struggling with alcoholism. Some are more noticeable than others.
The Beginning: Hiding, Masking, and Tolerance Of An Alcoholic
Many times those struggling with addiction or alcoholism will try and hide the fact that they have developed an alcohol problem and/or addiction. Which can sometimes prove to be easy due to the prevalence of the use and abuse of alcohol within our society? There are many different signs that will help with the identification of alcoholism or an alcohol use disorder. While some may occur with anyone who uses alcohol, these signs are meant to flag awareness.
1: Alcohol Tolerance
Those facing a drinking problem (alcoholism) will have grown their tolerance to alcohol. Loved ones may notice that it takes quite a bit more alcohol to get them to the limit of their satisfaction. Although even with larger quantities they may not behave as if they consumed as much alcohol as they really have.
Not only has their tolerance grown for alcohol but the duration of drinking lengthens. Those impacted by alcoholism have a tendency to begin drinking before everyone else and proceed to continue drinking afterward. Everyone else may be entirely finished drinking alcohol for the night while those who suffer from alcoholism will continue to consume alcohol.
2: Hiding and/or Stashing Alcohol
A loved one or friend may stumble upon hidden bottles in odd locations. Some examples of hiding alcohol/alcoholism locations are in drawers, closets, cars, and desk drawers. The hiding places of alcohol can even be found in more crafty locations such as within used soda containers or even within a mattress. When alcohol is found stashed in very odd locations, it is definitely a red flag that alcoholism is likely the problem. Aside from alcohol tolerance and continued abuse, this sign of alcoholism is along the same lines as their hiding of the substance.
Hiding and stashing alcohol is done to prevent further feelings of guilt and/or from judgment being placed upon them from their alcohol abuse.
3: Masking Alcohol Abuse (Hiding Alcohol) And The Disease
To prevent others from finding out about their alcoholism, a common way to mask their abusive drinking is by consuming vodka. Vodka lacks the strong odor of other alcoholic beverages and mixes well with other beverages. Thus making it an easier alcoholic substance to hide from friends, co-workers and even loved ones. Those experiencing alcoholism likely will feel the need to drink alcohol more often to feel “normal”.
Similar to the consumption of vodka, there may be an increase in the use of breath mints, gum, cologne or perfume. Those affected by alcoholism may even mask their consumption by implementing common hygienic principles. Principles such as brushing their teeth more frequently, using mouthwash, or showering more often.
Hiding Alcoholism: Health Issues & Changes to Personality and Interests
4: Increased Physical Signs of the Disease
Due to alcoholism’s impact on the mind and body while intoxicated the likelihood of getting hurt rises in addition to a lowered immune system. In the event a loved one, friend, or co-worker appears to have more frequent displays of bumps or bruises and/or has come down with more colds than usual, may be a sign of alcoholism.
While those impacted by alcoholism may have more broken bones or bruises due to falling, continued abuse with higher quantities of alcohol compromises our internal health. The immune system will be lowered causing more frequent occurrences of catching an illness. Internally large and prolonged consumption of alcohol causes damage to the liver and nervous system.
People that are concerned about your or a loved one’s frequency of injuries or sickness may question their occurrence. In these instances, those impacted by alcoholism will likely make up an excuse that doesn’t quite “add up”.
In another instance, those suffering from alcoholism may be confronted about their various hidden stashes of alcohol. They will likely come up with an elaborate lie for their behavior. Producing a variety of reasons why they had hidden their purchases.
For some suffering from alcoholism, they may have even lied to themselves. Convincing themselves, and maybe to others around them, that they are able to control their alcoholism.
6: Imbalanced Mood
Loved ones, friends, and co-workers may also notice mood swings and more so than not, drastic ones. Anyone suffering from alcoholism will have moderate to severe behavioral changes. These can occur from the lack of alcohol or the consumption of alcohol. Alcohol causes people to lower their inhibitions and increases the likelihood of causing the consumer to become irrational and angry. They may even become angry if friends or family decline an invitation to get a drink after work or while out on the town. Those battling with alcoholism may exhibit these signs even if they aren’t drinking at that time. This can be due to alcohol withdrawal or even from accusations of their alcohol dependence.
Some people that suffer from alcoholism may have resorted to drinking in a way to self medicate. However, because alcohol is a depressant, it actually causes the opposite effect. Those that were generally happy-go-lucky before their alcoholism set in, may become depressed after drinking large quantities. This is in part due to the fluctuations in the body’s chemistry and possibly for some, due to extreme guilt.
6: Lack of Focus and/or Attention
Those that battle alcoholism will show signs of loss of attention and/or focus. This is due to the majority of their time is spent thinking about alcohol.
Their attention will be turned to thinking about things such as:
- Wondering when they will be able to drink.
- How or when they will be able to attain alcohol.
- Better ways to stash or hide their alcohol.
- Places alcohol can come in handy.
Those dependent on alcohol are suffering internally. They have become obsessed with alcohol. Therefore everyday things like taking care of finances, their job, home, or family and friends are likely to lose their feeling of self-worth.
Their attention span will be short-lived due to their need for alcohol to function properly due to their chemical imbalances. So signs of alcoholism, like their loss of focus on a normal day, may occur at work or at home.
7: Loss of Interest and Isolation
A more subtle sign a loved one, friend, or co-worker is battling alcoholism or alcohol use disorder is blatant lack of interest in hobbies that they previously had. Due to their constant drinking, they will be unable to focus on things they used to love or be unable to do them due to their health. They will stop partaking in those activities and withdrawal from friends and family.
While suffering from alcoholism those impacted may feel guilt and shame due to their alcohol dependence and start to isolate themselves because of these feelings they may become solitary. Isolating themselves to refrain from judgment, receiving accusations, or even the suggestion of seeking help from their attempts at hiding their alcoholism. They may have even rebutted previously saying that they are able to control it but know that they are incapable of doing so. They may feel that hiding their alcoholism from others is their best chance.
8: Finance, Legal and/or School, and Family Problems
Those caring for someone facing alcoholism will likely see their family life decline. They may experience watching their loved ones lose their job. A long-time friend may ask for money to pay bills or to bail them out of jail. Alcoholism systematically works it’s way into all parts of life. With it, causing a plethora of issues due to their poor attempts at hiding their alcoholism.
Financially, the responsibility to pay proper bills will likely go unnoticed due to the previous signs of alcoholism. Such as the lack of attention. There is also the financial blow due to the constant purchase of alcohol and ways to mask it. In some cases, a lawyer may need to be hired due to incarceration from robbery, a car accident or DUI, or even public intoxication. In other instances, hospital bills may need to be paid due to injury from falling, liver failure, or (again) a car accident.
Alcoholism causes people to make unwise decisions. Those suffering from an alcohol use disorder or alcoholism may make even more poor decisions to fund or fuel their alcohol addiction and/or abuse. They may resort to stealing to attain money from family, friends, or even stores. Stealing from others may cause legal problems. They may lose rights to their children and will have to fight for their rights to remain in their children’s’ lives.
With job loss or potential legal problems, a very large financial responsibility occurs. Thus straining the family and loved ones. Without a job to pay for the incoming bills, family members are put into a position of needing to pay the bills or watch as a member of their family loses everything due to the hiding of their alcoholism.
Alcoholism: Adolescents & Young Adults
Adolescents or young adults suffering from alcoholism may face problems at school. Due to their likely loss of attention or care, there may be a decrease in their grades or likely their attendance in class. They may face expulsion due to these instances or due to their behavior inside or outside of the class. Possibly, even leading towards legal trouble.
Adolescents and young adults may find themselves facing charges or even hospitalized due to harming others or themselves due to the hiding of their alcoholism. Binge drinking alcohol is common in high school and even more common in higher education. Although it is extremely common it causes a variety of mental and physical problems and changes. Because of this, they may make poor decisions that can lead to harming themselves or others, which oftentimes leads to placing their family in a very uncomfortable and heartbreaking position.
Alcoholism: Seeking Help
There are many signs that a loved one, friend, co-worker, or maybe even you have developed the debilitating disease known as alcoholism. The above are all signals or red flags and each can have various ways of manifesting. It is important to seek professional guidance and advise if any of these seem familiar. There are a variety of difficulties and health issues that stem from alcoholism and seeking help sooner rather than later will prevent more deep seeding problems.
We encourage you to reach out to us. Get the treatment you deserve to help you or your loved one get back on their feet and into a more stable situation. Don’t wait any longer; contact us here at Coastal Detox today.