December 1, 2007
Recognizing And Steps Of An Alcoholic
Learning that your life partner or a close friend or family member is an alcoholic can come as a severe shock. This is particularly true when you have failed to notice that anything was wrong with them over a long period. However, you shouldn’t blame yourself because the nature of an alcoholic is to be secretive and devious so as not to be caught out.
In some households, it is normal practice to have a couple of drinks after work, wine with dinner and maybe even a nightcap. If yours is one of those, then it is even less likely that you will notice if someone is an alcoholic. The same holds true for couples or families who socialise a lot in pubs or restaurants or other establishments, which serve alcoholic drinks. In these circumstances, if someone seems a little tipsy occasionally, the assembled company will probably pass it off as "one too many", but what’s going on when "one too many" becomes a daily occurrence?
Unfortunately, the signs of alcoholism differ from person to person. Some can consume huge quantities of alcohol, without apparent ill effects, until one last drink tips them over the edge. Others will get drunk very quickly, on what appears to be a small amount of alcohol. However, don’t forget they may actually have been drinking since early in the morning.
Some tell-tale signs are:
- furtive behaviour
- lurking near the drinks tray at odd times of day
- smell of alcohol on the breath at odd times of day
- undue irritability
- defensive responses to innocent enquiries
Some alcoholics are so sure that they have covered their tracks that they will do very strange things indeed. A prime example of this was a man who had two friends who were traffic police officers. His route to work each day took him past their police station, so he decided to drop in and join them for a cup of coffee. However, he had made one fundamental mistake, following his early morning drink of scotch; he had failed to cover up the smell on his breath. He was lucky; one officer took him home and the other drove his car. He could have been caught on the motorway, been breathalysed and lost his licence.
Another obvious sign of an alcoholic in the house is empty bottles hidden in strange places, for example:
- rarely used suitcases
- the very back of cupboards
- on top of wardrobes
- in the loo cistern
- in the shed or garage
Many alcoholics will insist on having a drink when there isn’t really time such as just before leaving the house for a dinner party or last thing before bed, having been drinking all evening. If you try to stop them, they will become bad-tempered and argumentative.
When you become convinced that the person in question is addicted to alcohol, check with a few close family friends to have your suspicions confirmed. If they too believe that there is a problem, then there almost certainly is. When you confront the alcoholic, they will vehemently deny that anything is wrong, so it’s as well to have a second opinion to bolster your confidence.
Well, you’ve done the easy bit; you’ve recognized that your friend or lover is an alcoholic; all you have to do now is get them to recognize it and seek treatment.