Get Help Today. (800) 516-4357

5 Signs You May Need Help for Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol use disorder is a serious and chronic condition that often requires medical detox and comprehensive treatment. One of the most challenging parts of this disorder is recognizing admitting that you need help. These five signs may indicate that you have alcohol use disorder and could benefit from inpatient rehab or outpatient care.

Struggling with Addiction? Get Help Now

Here are 5 signs that you should reach out for help for an alcohol problem:

  1. You can’t stop thinking about drinking.
  2. You experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking.
  3. You need more and more alcohol to get drunk (tolerance).
  4. You keep drinking even when it causes problems in your life.
  5. You feel ashamed about drinking, but find yourself going back to alcohol anyway.

Keep in mind, these aren’t the only signs you need alcohol addiction treatment; however, they may help you recognize that you need to see a medical professional.

Sign 1: You Can’t Stop Thinking About Drinking

One of the signs that you should reach out for help for a problem with alcohol is if you find that you have an overwhelming compulsion to drink. [1] This is distinct from moderate drinkers who can enjoy themselves without having alcohol, or who can go for extended periods of time without wanting to drink or feeling any ill effects from their lack of alcohol.

One of the signs of alcohol use disorder is having an overpowering and intrusive desire for alcohol. This can mean everything from wanting to start your day with a drink to insisting on having a drink with every meal. It often involves making up excuses to drink, such as a celebration. Even when you’re not drinking, you think about drinking and experience strong cravings for alcohol.[8]

Sign 2: You Experience Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms When You Stop Drinking

A hospital or a treatment facility can help you withdraw from alcohol safely while providing you with detox medications and medical oversight to address or prevent complications or medical emergencies.

Another sign that you should reach out for help with an alcohol problem is if you experience withdrawal symptoms when you suddenly stop drinking or reduce your consumption. This means that you’ve become dependent on alcohol and need it to function optimally.[8]

Someone who does not have alcohol use disorder can suspend, or even discontinue, their consumption of alcohol and not experience any physical or psychological effects.

However, a person who meets the criteria for alcohol use disorder will likely experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms as soon as they stop drinking. These may include: [2],[8]

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Headache
  • Heart palpitations
  • Tremors or shakes
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Strong alcohol cravings

People who experience alcohol withdrawal tend to drink in an attempt to alleviate these distressing symptoms, thereby deepening their dependence on alcohol and making it progressively harder to stop drinking.

If you find that you’re experiencing alcohol withdrawal syndrome when you stop drinking, you need to seek out professional detox services. Do not attempt to stop drinking by yourself, as quitting drinking cold turkey can lead to potentially fatal withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures or delirium tremens.

Sign 3: You Need More Alcohol to Feel Intoxicated

While a casual drinker will likely experience a low or mild degree of inebriation, a person with a high tolerance for alcohol will become very inebriated much quicker.

Another sign that you should reach out for help for an alcohol problem is if you have an increased tolerance for alcohol — that is, you need to drink more and more alcohol to feel any intoxicating effects.[3],[8]

A person who drinks in moderation will likely experience some degree of inebriation quite quickly, suggesting that they have a low tolerance. A person who drinks heavily and frequently, on the other hand, will need many more drinks before they notice the desired effects. This is because their body has grown accustomed to the presence of alcohol.

Additionally, even if a person with high alcohol tolerance does not show signs of being drunk, their bodies are still being forced to process high quantities of alcohol. This can do a lot of damage to the brain, heart, liver, and kidneys, even as the person feels like they are not drunk at all.

Tolerance can also be dangerous because it often leads to binge drinking, which is a risk factor for alcohol poisoning or alcohol overdose, which can be life-threatening.

Sign 4: You Can’t Stop Drinking, Despite Negative Consequences

An inability or unwillingness to stop drinking, despite negative consequences in your life, is a surefire sign that you should reach out for help regarding your relationship with alcohol.

If you have alcohol use disorder, you may find that your drinking causes harm in your life, such as:[8]

  • Financial issues
  • Relationship problems
  • Occupational consequences, such as excessive absences
  • Medical problems caused or worsened by drinking
  • Mental health issues caused or exacerbated by drinking

If you find yourself going back to drinking even when it is significantly impacting your quality of life, this is a sign that you should reach out for help because your alcohol use has become compulsive.

Sign 5: You Continue to Drink Even Though You Feel Ashamed or Guilty About It

Lastly, a key indicator that you should reach out for help for alcohol addiction is if you feel guilty or ashamed for drinking.[5]

Someone who drinks moderately will generally not have anything to hide about their private or public alcohol consumption. But someone with alcohol use disorder will go to great lengths to hide evidence of their drinking.

They will often feel deeply ashamed of what they are doing. These feelings frequently precipitate a new cycle of drinking. [6]

In some cases, people who have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol will swear that they will never drink again, only to return to their habits as soon as the following weekend. [7] While an occasional regretful drunken night is not a sign of an alcohol problem in and of itself, a repeated pattern of shame and an inevitable return to drinking is a sign that your relationship with alcohol is adversely impacting your self-esteem and impulse control.

Do you notice that you feel bad about drinking but continue to drink anyway? Do you go to some effort to dispose of evidence that you’ve bought alcohol or have been drinking? Do you tell yourself (and others) that you will never drink again but then regularly get drunk after doing so? All of these are clear signs that you have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, that you are unable to enjoy drinking in moderation, and that you should reach out for help. At Boca Recovery Center, we are here to assist you on your recovery journey. Taking the first step isn’t always easy, but it’s certainly worth it.

Profile image for Dr. Alison Tarlow
Medically Reviewed By Dr. Alison Tarlow

Dr. Alison Tarlow is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the States of Florida and Pennsylvania, and a Certified Addictions Professional (CAP). She has been a practicing psychologist for over 15 years. Sh... Read More

Updated January 31, 2024
Take The Next Step Now
Call Us Now Check Insurance