When to admit you need help for alcohol addiction

In a world where socialising often revolves around alcohol, it can be easy to overlook the role it plays in our lives. Yet, it’s crucial to take a step back and engage in honest self-reflection regarding our relationship with alcohol. Addiction can silently affect anyone, often creeping up on people without them even realising it. Therefore, it’s crucial to spot the signs of alcohol addiction before it becomes difficult to control.

Self-reflection is the perfect time to ‘check in’ with ourselves

Why do we reach for that glass of wine, bottle of beer or cocktail in the first place? Is it to unwind after a long day, fit in with friends or cope with stress? Are we ordering that extra drink because we’re not as drunk as we want to be? These questions aren’t about judgement or criticism. Instead, they’re about understanding ourselves better and making informed decisions for our well-being. By recognising our reasons, we can make more conscious choices.

In this blog, we’ll explore signs of alcohol addiction, drawing from real-life interviews with people on their alcohol recovery journeys. We can identify these signs earlier by learning from those who’ve faced similar challenges.

We’ve also concluded each section with a set of questions for self-assessment. If you answer ‘yes’ to one or more of these questions, it may indicate the need for additional support in addressing potential alcohol addiction.

1. Loss of control

When you find it difficult to control your drinking, it can be a distressing sign that addiction might be taking hold. This loss of control can manifest as an inability to limit the amount you consume or consistently failing to quit or cut down despite your best efforts. Recognising these struggles is an important step in understanding the challenges you face.

Does this sound like you?

“I have tried many times. I would stop drinking and after some time, I would start with non-alcoholic beer and when I felt reassured, I would get them with alcohol and a little after that I was “hooked” again.” (Testimonial 8)

“You want to stop drinking but you can’t because alcohol has turned you into a slave.” (Testimonial 13)


Questions to ask yourself
“Do I find myself consuming large amounts of alcohol or drinking for longer periods than I initially intended?”

“Have I tried to cut down or control my alcohol use but have been unsuccessful in doing so?”

“Do I often spend a significant amount of time obtaining alcohol, using it or recovering from its effects?”

2. Health Issues

Alcohol abuse can have severe consequences on your physical and mental well-being. It may lead to a range of health problems, including liver damage, depression, anxiety and memory lapses. These issues can take a toll on your overall quality of life. Recognising the toll alcohol is taking on your health is one of the critical steps in taking control of your situation.

Does this sound like you?

“It is suffering, after a binge and pity and repentance, but you feel so bad that right away you go back to drinking” (Testimonial 12)

Questions to ask yourself
Do I frequently experience physical health problems such as liver issues, digestive problems, high blood pressure or other ailments that I suspect may be linked to my alcohol use?

Have I noticed a decline in my mental health, including increased anxiety, depression or memory problems, which I believe might be associated with my alcohol consumption?

Do I regularly engage in risky behaviours or find myself in dangerous situations while under the influence of alcohol, leading to injuries or accidents?


3. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not drinking

Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not drinking is a clear sign of alcohol dependence. These symptoms can range from physical discomfort like tremors, nausea and sweating to psychological distress such as anxiety, depression and irritability. While withdrawal can be physically and emotionally challenging, it underscores the importance of seeking help.

Addressing withdrawal symptoms safely, with the support of healthcare professionals or a support network, is crucial for breaking the cycle of addiction and regaining control over your life.

Does this sound like you?

“It hurts your liver, your pancreas, the shaking, the sweating and the nightmares.” (Interview 3)

Questions to ask yourself
Do I often experience physical symptoms like sweating, nausea, tremors or anxiety when I haven’t consumed alcohol for some time?

Have I noticed a strong craving or compulsion to drink to relieve discomfort or anxiety that arises when I’m not drinking?

Do I find it challenging to stop or cut down on my alcohol consumption due to the fear of withdrawal symptoms?

4. Relationship Problems

Alcohol addiction can strain your connections with loved ones. When family and friends express concern about your drinking habits, it’s a sign that your behaviour may be negatively affecting those you care about. Addressing these issues, rebuilding trust, and maintaining healthier relationships is crucial.

Does this sound like you?

“When I came home, my children would hide, they would get out of the way” (Testimonial 5)

“He’s not my husband anymore, he’s not my children’s father and he doesn’t act like it.” (Testimonial 6).

5. Legal Issues

Legal problems such as being caught drink-driving or other alcohol-related offences can be a stark reminder of the consequences of addiction. These issues can disrupt your life, jeopardise your legal status and result in various penalties. Acknowledging the gravity of legal troubles can serve as a motivation to reassess your relationship with alcohol and take steps towards a healthier and more responsible lifestyle.

Does this sound like you?

“I had a very bad accident, that’s when they gave me two years in jail and then work and I kept drinking and even more.” (Interview 1)

Questions to ask yourself
Have I been arrested or charged with alcohol-related offences, such as drunk driving or public intoxication?

Do I often engage in illegal activities or risky behaviours under the influence of alcohol that could potentially lead to legal trouble, such as fights, property damage or theft?

Am I facing legal consequences, such as pending court cases, probation, or other legal issues directly related to my alcohol use?

6. Blaming others for heavy drinking

Blaming others or external factors for your drinking is a common defence mechanism, often seen in those struggling with addiction. Recognising that this behaviour can hinder self-awareness and personal growth is important. Instead of placing blame elsewhere, acknowledging personal responsibility for your drinking habits is a crucial step towards recovery. It allows you to address the underlying issues driving your addiction and empowers you to make positive changes in your life.

Does this sound like you?

“Everyone else was to blame for my drinking. If I came home and my wife would get angry because it was late, I would go back to the bar and drink some more.” (Interview 3)

Questions to ask yourself
Do I often blame external factors or other people for my heavy drinking?

Do I get defensive when others express concern about my drinking, blaming them instead?

Have my relationships been negatively affected by my tendency to blame others for my heavy drinking?

7. An increase in alcohol consumption

An increase in alcohol consumption is a common progression in the journey towards alcohol addiction. Over time, individuals with alcohol use disorder often find themselves needing more alcohol to achieve the same desired effects or to avoid withdrawal symptoms. This phenomenon, known as tolerance, can lead to a dangerous cycle of escalating consumption.

Does this sound like you?

“I remember that other kids would drink maybe two cups, I would drink the whole bottle. I realised I was drinking more and stronger drinks” (Interview 1)

Questions to ask yourself
Have I noticed that I am drinking larger amounts of alcohol, or more frequently than I used to, to achieve the desired effect?

Do I find it challenging to control or limit my alcohol intake, even if I had initially intended to drink less?

Has my tolerance to alcohol increased, meaning I need to drink more to achieve the same level of intoxication or relaxation?

Other notable signs of a potential alcohol addiction

Although the above are some of the main signs of alcohol addiction, more signs are worth monitoring:

  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Failed attempts to quit
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Insomnia
  • Skin changes
  • Fatigue

What are the next steps?

Battling an alcohol addiction is something no one should have to go through alone, and that’s why UKAT provides detox and rehab programmes for those in need. The process begins with alcohol detox treatment at a specialised alcohol detox centre, ensuring a safe withdrawal from alcohol. This crucial step minimises discomfort from withdrawal symptoms and sets the foundation for recovery.

Following detox, those in recovery will receive comprehensive alcoholism rehab, which includes evidence-based therapies and counselling. These programmes help individuals address the root causes of their alcohol addiction and develop effective coping strategies.

With UKAT’s support and affordable alcohol rehab, there is a clear path towards overcoming alcohol addiction and achieving a healthier, alcohol-free life. Alcohol detox and alcohol rehab provide hope for a brighter future for those struggling with alcoholism.