My Man Says He’s Not an Alcoholic: Signs of Alcoholism in Men
If your partner is drinking too much, you probably notice a lot. At the same time, they may argue or even outright deny drinking too much or having a problem. That’s a common problem with alcoholics. They convince themselves that they are in control and they can quit whenever they want – even when they can’t.
Recognizing that your loved one is struggling with an alcohol use disorder is one of the first steps of getting them help. It can also be important for your own mental health – especially if they are lying and hiding drinking. Unfortunately, if your loved one doesn’t’ want to get help, they won’t and you can’t make them. However, taking the steps to help them learn about substance use disorders, why alcoholism is a treatable thing and not a personal failing, and how they can get help may help. And, that all starts with recognizing the signs of alcoholism and how it impacts people.
They Get Sick Often
If your man is drinking so much that he has cold or flu symptoms when he stops, he’s struggling with alcohol dependency. This means that his body is so accustomed to alcohol that it has to adjust to lower levels of it when he stops drinking. With alcohol, this happens because alcohol interacts with the central nervous system and therefore the respiratory system. As a result, someone going through withdrawal will have shaking hands, sniffles, a headache, and will likely be extremely irritable.
Even if you notice that they periodically have these symptoms, especially if they can’t drink for a few days for medication or for work – then they likely have a problem.
He Sneaks or Hides Drinking
Someone with a healthy relationship to alcohol will never sneak or hide drinks. It doesn’t matter how much you “nag” them about it or feel negatively about it. If they have a good relationship with alcohol, they won’t hide using it.
This means that finding bottles hidden in a drawer or behind a couch is a sign of alcoholism. It means that someone who fills water or soda bottles with alcohol and takes them with them through the day is an alcoholic. It means that someone who often or normally slips alcohol into their normal beverage is an alcoholic. And, it means that someone who hides or tries to throw away bottles or evidence that they were drinking is an alcoholic.
They Drink More than They Say
If your loved one promises to have a single drink and then gets drunk, it’s fine once, but more than that and it’s a bad sign. Even if they jokingly go “I can’t just have one beer, it turns into two and then three”, it means that they don’t have self-control around alcohol. Lack of self-control around alcohol means they have a substance use disorder.
That’s also true if he tells you he drank less than you know he did. For example, if your partner comes home smelling strongly of alcohol and says he only had a few beers. Or, if he lies about not being drunk but is drunk. If he has to lie about it, it is a problem.
Unfortunately, this can be difficult to argue or work around. Why? People often lie so well that they convince themselves. That’s very easy in a bar, where you don’t have bottles and cups to get rid of. It’s also easy at home when you sneak drinks and hide them – because you don’t see the evidence of how much you’re drinking either. When that’s the case, it means alcohol consumption can get significantly out of hand, because they aren’t keeping tabs on what they are actually drinking.
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They Frequently Binge
Binge drinking, or drinking more than four servings of alcohol in a single sitting, shouldn’t be a regular thing. Healthy alcohol consumption involves moderation and being careful of how much you drink and why. Yet, 80% or more of Americans will sometimes binge drink. If that happens once or twice a year, it’s usually fine. However, if it’s a thing that happens more often, it usually means there’s a problem.
That’s also true if they:
- Save up to get to drink more on the weekends
- Drink to the point of blackout
- Drink to the point of throwing up
- Have memory lapses while drinking
They Overprioritize Drinking
It’s normal to look forward to having a few beers with friends. However, if someone has a problem, they over think about drinking. Sometimes that can take the form of making it a hobby. People invest in craft beer or spirits to make their alcoholism more socially acceptable. However, if they spend a significant portion of their time thinking about or drinking alcohol, it’s usually a bad sign. You can have a healthy relationship with craft alcohol and put more time and attention into it. However, that should not be paired with also frequently getting drunk.
Overprioritizing drinking looks like:
- Spending a lot of effort to ensure there is alcohol
- Skipping meals so alcohol hits harder
- Skipping meals so they can drink without gaining weight
- Refusing to go somewhere because they can’t drink
- Refusing to go somewhere unless you are the designated driver
Essentially, if the most important part of the activity is drinking, your partner has a problem.
He Drinks to Self-Medicate
TV shows and media have normalized “having a drink to feel better” or to “unwind”. However, that’s a very unhealthy approach to life and one that can result in addiction. If your partner uses alcohol to make themselves feel better during extreme events, it’s probably fine. On the other hand, if they need a beer to unwind from work or to even be normal, they have a problem.
Alcohol should not be a way to cope with stress. It also shouldn’t be a way to manage emotions, including social anxiety. Alcohol also should not be a social lubricant. If you “need” it, you have a problem.
They Can’t Quit
If your partner goes “I can quit anytime I want”, and then doesn’t, it usually means they can’t. That’s also true if they keep trying to quit and then relapse and find a reason for that. Or, if they say they will quit or cut back, and then keep finding reasons to not. “I’ll stop drinking when that stressful thing stops” is the same as saying “I can’t quit”. It’s also true if they blame it on you, “I might drink less if you didn’t nag so much”, also means “I can’t quit”.
Most people will at least try to cut back or to quit and then may find that they can’t actually do so. That’s true even if it seems like they have a valid reason. Or if quitting really is inconvenient right then. If someone cannot quit, especially if they say they want to, they have a problem.
If your partner is struggling with alcohol, it’s important to try to get them help. Unfortunately, getting someone to acknowledge that they need help can be extremely difficult. You may need professional help or an intervention to get your partner to face the fact that they do have a problem. And, that starts with recognizing the ways they do struggle with alcohol. Good luck getting your loved one into treatment.
If you or your loved-one struggles from alcoholism or other substance abuse please contact us today and speak with one of our experienced and professional intake advisors about our alcohol rehab, detox, partial hospitalization, and residential treatment programs. 10 Acre Ranch also has specialty tracks like our pet friendly drug rehab and couples substance abuse treatment programs. We’re here to help you recover.