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5 Common Behaviors of an Alcoholic

Learn about the common behaviors of an alcoholic and help a loved one

Alcoholism is a health issue that is often referenced and discussed, but also one that is supremely misunderstood in society today. Many people have difficulty understanding what constitutes alcoholism and the different degrees of alcohol addiction, and cannot even recognize many of the common behaviors of an alcoholic. Not all alcoholics are obvious in their addiction and many people are dealing with a functioning alcoholic in their life without even realizing it. It is vitally important to not only learn and understand the common behaviors of an alcoholic, but also be able to see and recognize the signs of a functioning alcoholic so that you can better identify any alcoholics in your life and help them to get the treatment they need to recover from their addiction.

They Use Alcohol as a Reward

One of the most common behaviors of an alcoholic, whether you are dealing with a functioning alcoholic or a more stereotypical alcoholic, is that they use alcohol as a reward system for themselves. If they get a promotion at work, have any form of personal success, or even just get any task done or are happy for someone else’s accomplishment, they will celebrate by consuming alcohol.

They Can’t Usually Have Just One

Oftentimes, another of the common behaviors of an alcoholic is that they cannot have just one drink. They may claim that they are going to just have “a drink” and then once they start drinking, that one drink becomes many. This is because that first drink they have triggers the craving for more inside of their body and they cannot help but succumb to those cravings.

They Drink Regularly and Frequently

Most alcoholics will drink frequently and regularly. This does not mean that they get blackout drunk every night of the week. But it would mean that they consume alcohol several times a week or month, or that they may have a few drinks nightly and only become intoxicated on weekends. The exact frequency and regularity of the alcohol consumption will vary from person to person, but all alcoholics (other than those in recovery) engage in regular and frequent drinking behaviors.

They Lie About or Try to Justify Their Alcohol Use

On top of the actual drinking behaviors, alcoholics also have a tendency to try to cover up or otherwise justify their alcohol use. They may drink in secret and then deny it was them when confronted with empty or watered-down alcohol bottles. Even when a friend or family member catches them smelling like alcohol, drunk, or with a hangover, they might still deny it or otherwise try to justify why they have been drinking.

They Try to Shift the Blame

When it comes to the common behaviors of an alcoholic as well as the signs of a functioning alcoholic, the tendency to try to shift the blame from themselves to others is a major issue. They may claim that their spouse drives them to drink. On the other hand, they could also shift blame to their children, friends, job, bosses, or virtually anyone and anything else. By shifting blame off of themselves, they do not have to take responsibility for their drinking or the behaviors they engage in while drinking. They can also avoid confronting the possibility that they are alcoholics at all because what they are doing is “not their fault.”

They May Seem Like Two Different People

When you are dealing with a functioning alcoholic, you may feel as if you are dealing with two separate people sometimes. There is the public persona that your loved one has where they seem to have everything together, may be popular at work or in social groups, and may seem vivacious and charming. But then there is the other side of their personality. This is the one that cannot stop drinking once they start, may be moody, depressed, or even cruel, and the like. Such distinct public and private personas are common behaviors of an alcoholic as it essentially protects them from public scrutiny. For family members and others close to them, though, it can feel trapping because it is difficult to convince the outside world that such a high-functioning seemingly happy person is an alcoholic.

These are some of the most common behaviors of an alcoholic and can help you to better understand what it means to be an alcoholic in general as well as what functioning alcoholism entails. If someone you love is exhibiting these behaviors, there is help available for you and for them to better deal with alcoholism and overcome it.