10 Signs Someone is a Closet Alcoholic

Written by Chloe Nicosia

Hiding Alcohol Use Disorder – 10 Signs Someone is a Closet Alcoholic

In the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s 2015 statistics for alcohol use disorder, an interesting fact came to light: out of the 15.1 million adults living with alcohol use disorder, only a handful (6.7 percent) got treatment even though treatment for alcoholism can greatly reduce drinking and the problems associated with it. One of the reasons why so few got help is that they hide their drinking from others and actively avoid treatment themselves. However, there are several telltale signs someone is a closet alcoholic, which we’ll discuss in this article.

Does your loved one need an intervention? Click here to learn more about the entire intervention process.

1. They Can’t Stop Drinking

One of the signs of a closet alcoholic is their inability to stop what they’re doing. In fact, it is a symptom of alcoholism according to the clinical definition of alcoholism. The person may have tried to stop or try to limit their alcohol intake before, but every time they do it’s only a few days before they start drinking again.

Part of the reason why they struggle to quit is because of the very uncomfortable and sometimes dangers withdrawal symptoms, which occur when a dependence has formed. Another factor that may cause them to not be able to stop is their behavior and coping skills, which may leave them feeling like they have to drink in order to cope.

2. Various Problems Crop Up in Work, School, or At Home

Even a functioning alcohol can’t avoid the problems that heavy drinking causes in their life as their drinking starts to slowly take precedence over everything else that should be important to the person. While it may take some time before some of these signs someone is a closet alcoholic become obvious, the common problems at work, home, and school include:

  • A drop in their school performance and grades
  • They make frequent mistakes at work
  • They are often tardy  with work or school
  • Their productivity has dropped
  • There are more frequent conflicts with teachers, bosses, peers, or colleagues
  • More family fights and problems in the family unit
  • Sick days from work or school become more common

3. Problems with The Law

Since alcoholics often drink in risky situations, such as at a party when they know they have to drive shortly afterwards, there is a higher chance that they’ll b caught drinking under the influence. Not only is DUI’s common, the following are some of the other problems with the law that can be alcoholism signs:

  • Various assault charges including bar fights and domestic violence
  • Drinking in public, which results in a public intoxication charge such as disturbing the peace
  • Young adults may have delinquency charges as they partake in illegal activities such as stealing street signs

These charges can be some of the signs someone is a closet alcoholic, especially when they occur more frequently.

4. Extreme Mood Changes

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, there is a strong connection between heavy alcohol use and extreme moods such as aggression and violence. As one of the signs someone is a closet alcoholic, the person may become aggressive or violent during their intoxication or become irritable, aggressive and depressed after a night of drinking.

The changes in mood during the aftereffects of alcohol can be attributed to their body recovering from the presence of alcohol, and in an alcoholic’s case, it can be signs of withdrawal. To counteract the effects that alcohol has on the GABA receptors, gabapentin is produced in higher than normal levels, and an excess can cause anxiety and depression.

Furthermore, some of the other symptoms of withdrawal include insomnia, which can add to the anxiety, depression, and irritability they feel when they aren’t drinking.

5. Vodka as a Way to Hide Drinking

Vodka is not only a very strong drink – a distilled spirit with roughly 40 percent alcohol concentration – but it is also odorless and clear, making it a popular way to hide drinking among alcoholics. Vodka is often mixed with standard drinks such as coffee, or a range of soft drinks and drink mixers. It is also frequently mixed with energy drinks, which often allows people to drink more for longer due to the burst of energy that energy drinks give. Done in such a way, it can be hard for others to tell if the person is drinking alcohol. The only telltale sign may be empty bottles of vodka or the smell of alcohol on their breath.

6. Lying About Drinking Alcohol

One of the signs of a closet alcoholic is catching them out on their lies. Their lies may be obvious, such as coming home late with alcohol plastered on their breath and then denying that they drank anything or about where they were.

Other lies may be harder to spot, such as lying about how much alcohol is being consumed on a weekly basis – a common lie to physicians or doctors. While it may not always be easy to tell if they’re lying, catching them out on a lie can be one of the few signs someone is a closet alcoholic that you’ll see.

7. Bumps and Bruises

One of the strongest effects that alcohol has when consumed in large quantities is it lowers a person’s coordination and balance. This can lead to many minor incidents that reveal themselves in the form or bumps, bruises, cuts and other fairly minor injuries.

For example, many alcoholics have blackouts. These blackouts can cause them to become limp and fall down hard. A person may slip and sprain or break their foot due to excessive drinking habits, and then try and cover it up out of embarrassment or because they don’t want people to know that they’re drinking so much.

8. A High Tolerance

A high tolerance to alcohol is one of the classic alcoholism signs. A tolerance to alcohol is when an individual’s body starts to adapt to drinking, making the effects less pronounced. To counteract this, people drink higher amounts of alcohol, thus achieving the same effect that they are used to.

Various things such as gender, age, ethnicity, weight, and family history can affect how quickly a tolerance forms and how much overall tolerance is formed. If you notice that your friend, loved one, or college drinks far more alcohol than another person their size, age, or gender drinks, that it may be an indication of a high tolerance and therefor alcohol dependence.

9. The Hiding of Alcohol in Unexpected Places

An alcoholic requires alcohol daily – some may even need a drink before they start with their day. You may find bottles of alcohol in places such as under a bed, in an office drawer, in the bathroom, or in the car. A common trick that alcoholics use to hide the amount they drink is to have more alcohol stashed in their car or in the bathroom so that they can have extra drinks without anyone noticing.

10. Drinking Alone or in Unconventional Times

Most people are social drinkers: they only have alcohol when at a dinner party, social event or similar situation. An alcohol on the other hand cannot stop there as they have a dependence to maintain. They will often drink during times that no other person is drinking, such as out in public or alone when no occasion warrants it.

Sources:

https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-facts-and-statistics

https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-use-disorders