4 Signs You’re Dating An Alcoholic

I want to speak with you today about how you determine if someone, yourself, or someone close to you, has an alcohol problem. I am going to reference some of the symptoms straight from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).  The DSM-5 is a manual used by mental health professionals to diagnose mental disorders.  There are a number of ways that you can try to find out and understand if someone that you’re either dating, in a marriage, or in any type of relationship with someone who has an alcohol abuse problem.  I’m going to briefly overview what’s in the DSM-5.  But before I end this blog I am going to teach you a quick and efficient way that you can determine if the person that you are dating or married to has alcohol abuse concerns that they may need to look into.  

Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse from the DSM-5

So here are a few of the symptoms according to the DSM that you should look for.  You may observe that the person of interest may take alcohol in large amounts.  The amounts that they may consume alcohol are in amounts more than what was intended to be taken. These actions persist and may seem uncontrollable to the point that the person has tried to cut down on alcohol use,  and just has not been able to be successful. A large degree of time is spent trying to obtain alcohol use. They have cravings for alcohol and strong desires to drink. 

Alcohol Abuse May Impact Social, Occupation, and Interpersonal Concerns

Individuals who may be considered alcoholics or alcohol abusers may have a habit of missing work, school, and not being able to fulfill their role at home due to alcohol use. An alcoholic or alcohol abuser may have important social, occupational, and recreational activities that are given up or reduced because of alcohol use. Someone with an alcohol use disorder may participate in hazardous types of behaviors, consuming alcohol in situations where they are at risk for injury physically.  There are a few other symptoms mentioned in the DSM-5,  but guess what? I’m going to break things down so that you can more easily identify someone who may be an alcoholic or have alcohol use disorder.  

The method that I am about to describe is used by, a well-known medical authority that produces journals and research in the field of medicine.  I must mention, anyone who uses this technique should understand that ultimately a diagnosis will have to be provided by a medical professional.  This condition can not be diagnosed by a relationship partner, husband, or wife.  

The CAGE Substance Abuse Screening Tool

JAMA explained that many physicians, I think maybe 55% of physicians, actually use this tool. The tool has a few questions called the CAGE Questions.  C-A-G-E is a mnemonic that identifies the symptoms needed to be known to assess a substance abuse problem.   So basically C stands for CUT-DOWN. So if there’s a person that you’re suspicious of that has an alcohol abuse problem, and they have made an attempt to cut down on their alcohol consumption and have not been successful, they would score a point on the screening.  So that’s C. 

A, have they been ANNOYED by someone who comes and tries to talk to them about their alcohol use? In other words, they might say, “will you just leave me alone about this? I don’t have a drinking problem issue. You’re the problem. I just like to have a couple of drinks. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

The next one, G, have they experienced GUILT feelings about their alcohol consumption and maybe they’ve shown some remorse or desire to change, but just haven’t felt so great about their drinking problem.

The last one E, stands for EYEOPENER.  This is significant, do they drink alcohol when they wake up in the morning? A lot of people don’t know that many times individuals use alcohol when they wake up in the morning for a reason. I’m not saying this is all cases, but many times alcoholics use alcohol to reduce the potential of withdrawal.  They may also seek to keep the concentration of alcohol level in their system.  They drink alcohol often to reduce the effects of a hangover. 

So if you wake up in the morning and you start feeling the effects of a hangover, there’s nothing like for an alcoholic or a problem drinker to start to use alcohol, to reduce those symptoms. Sometimes they can go back to sleep. Sometimes they can become more functional. 

So let’s review our symptoms.  Cutting down, annoyed by you talking about it, guilt feelings from time to time about alcohol use, and lastly eye-openers. They’re consuming alcohol in the morning as soon as they wake up to maybe reduce the symptoms. 

Get Support For Alcohol Abuse or Help As You Support an Alcoholic

If you know of anyone that’s having alcohol use, I would recommend that you send them to a professional. If some of what you have read feels close to home, and you believe that you can use some additional support, give us a call. We have a team of therapists and coaches who are ready to do whatever you need to support you in your situation. We have therapists and coaches who specialize in treating Alcohol abuse disorder, anger management, couples counseling, eating disorders, and more.  Give us a call, and we can help. 

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