Warning Signs of a Closet Alcoholic

Alcoholism is a term that almost everyone is familiar with. It can actually come in many different forms, which may not be as popularly known or spoken about as the greater general umbrella term. One such variation of alcoholism, the closet alcoholic, is more common than many may realize. This variation can, in many ways, be one of the most destructive forms of the disease. The main issues stem from the fact that many do not know what the term means or how to tell if someone is a closet alcoholic. If you do not know what to look for, how will you ever find it?

Better Addiction Care knows that a closet drunk is a variation of alcoholism that more people should be familiar with. In this blog, we present an analysis of the condition along with the warning signs of closet alcoholic behavior. Our team has years of experience in providing free information and resources for those seeking treatment, and we offer these insights in the hopes that some people can use them to get themselves or their loved ones the help they need.

What Is a Closet Alcoholic?

Perhaps the most difficult thing about closet alcoholism behavior is that many do not know what to look for. This is mainly due to the fact that being a closet alcoholic is not spoken about as much as the more general alcoholism label.

A closet alcoholic is someone who, as the name implies, is a closeted alcoholic. This means that they hide their habits of drinking and dependence from their loved ones or others around them. Many people may not even be able to tell when someone has been closet drinking. Confrontation about addiction is less likely due to no obvious problem being perceived. Finding closeted alcoholics and getting them the help they need can be difficult due to them being able to shield themselves from judgment and criticism as they fall deeper into addiction. 

The difficulty with identifying a closet alcoholic is the reason why knowing which warning signs to keep an eye out for can be so handy. Once the proof has been established as credible and is introduced to them, they should become aware that others have noticed their dependence. Getting ahead of these issues is important since, at some point, a closet alcoholic will begin to experience problems associated with drinking. This includes relationships, performance, and the ability to perform duties at home.

Even a high-functioning alcoholic can’t sustain an alcohol addiction for the long term without it affecting his life in negative ways. Alcohol addiction is a serious health problem that requires medical attention to overcome.

Spotting the Signs of a Closet Alcoholic

Above we have established what constitutes a closet alcoholic, and we have made the danger known. It is now time to address the warning signs of a potential closeted alcoholism issue in yourself or someone you know. Keep an eye out for any of the following behaviors and if you believe they could be linked to a potential problem with alcoholism.

  • Heavy drinking. 

A closet alcoholic will be a heavy drinker, which is defined as a woman who drinks more than three drinks per day or seven drinks per week or a man who drinks more than four drinks per day or fourteen drinks per week. Heavy drinking is a sign that you might be an alcoholic, and hiding the extent of your drinking may indicate you’re a closet alcoholic.

  • Denial.

Alcohol addiction is the result of changes in brain function and structure that affect thought and behavior patterns. Many people who are addicted are in denial that there’s a problem. A closet alcoholic will likely make excuses such as, “I only drink high-quality alcohol,” “My drinking doesn’t affect my job performance,” or “I only drink after 5 pm.” This person truly believes that these things mean that there’s no problem. However, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) stresses that no one can drink heavily and maintain major responsibilities for the long term. Addiction is a progressive disease, and at some point, alcoholism will catch up and begin causing problems.

  • Hiding alcohol from spouse and others.

Hiding alcohol from a spouse, children, or others is one of the most important closet alcoholic signs. A closet alcoholic often has liquor hidden in various places: in the house, in the car, and at work. He’ll step into the bathroom, where a bottle is hidden under the sink, or he’ll have a bottle hidden in his drawer at work and take nips here and there throughout the day.

  • Anger and denial when confronted.

When you confront a closet alcoholic, he or she will typically deny the problem and will likely become angry, hostile, or extremely defensive. Closet alcoholics may turn the tables and try to make you feel like you’re the one with the problem.

  • Lack of hangovers.

Drinking heavily for a long time can cause dependence on alcohol, which results when brain function changes to compensate for the presence of alcohol. At some point, brain function may shift so that it now operates more comfortably when alcohol is present. When this occurs, an individual won’t experience hangovers. But she’ll begin to experience withdrawal symptoms within eight hours after the last drink, which means she’s probably drinking throughout the day. Even if dependence hasn’t yet occurred, a closet alcoholic will likely become irritable, nervous, depressed, or otherwise uncomfortable if she doesn’t drink for a couple of days.

  • Blacking out.

Heavy drinkers tend to have blackouts, which occur when they don’t remember what happened while they were drinking. Even if your loved one doesn’t appear to drink all that much but frequently can’t remember what happened, there’s a chance he’s hiding his drinking and actually drinks much more than you think.

  • Changing behaviors.

Heavy alcohol abuse affects thought and behavior patterns. Someone who drinks heavily will probably experience mood swings. She may become aggressive under the influence, engage in high-risk behaviors like driving under the influence or make impulsive decisions.

Not all of these issues are going to be directly linked to closet alcoholism, but they are nonetheless an important set of behaviors to keep an eye out for. If you have spotted these issues and believe that they could be the signs of a closeted alcoholic, then Better Addiction Care is here to help with free online sobriety resources.  

Find Alcohol and Drug Addiction Treatment

If you have observed these behaviors or others like them in someone who you believe may be suffering from an issue linked to closeted alcoholism, then be sure to get them the help they need before it is too late. Make use of our team’s free online national directory of drug and alcohol abuse treatment facilities to find a center near you that could serve as the backdrop to life-changing decisions leading to a happier and healthier life.

If you have any questions regarding our directory or other free resources, then be sure to reach out to our team to learn more about how these services could be a benefit to your recovery journey or the recovery journey of someone you are concerned about. Be sure to take a look at our other substance abuse treatment articles to get more information regarding how you or a loved one could get sober! Our experts offer professional insight that is sure to prove useful while on the path toward the new sober you.


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