What are some of the more common alcoholic symptoms that you might observe in family or friends? Well you might consider some of the obvious ones first, such as:
* Drinking heavily or often, or both.
* Hiding alcohol, stashing it in hiding places, having it in several different places.
* Being drunk at unusual times, such as the morning or afternoon.
* Avoiding activities, such as going to a movie, because they are not willing to go that long without a drink.
* Isolating, avoiding people, so that they can drink.
* Justifying and rationalizing their drinking. ”If you had my problems you would get drunk too,” etc.
* Not being able to sleep unless they drink alcohol.
And so on. One thing that I like to suggest is the 30 day trial for anyone who may be on the brink of a drinking problem / full blown alcoholism. The 30 day trial is this: suggest that the person limit themselves to one drink per day for the next 30 days.
Now any normal person who is not an alcoholic can do this while standing on their head. It is not a problem. Limiting it to one drink per day is super easy for a normal drinker, and gives plenty of flexibility for drinking in social situations as well.
But the reaction from the alcoholic or problem drinker may give you the whole story, without even seeing the results of the trial. In most cases they will flat out refuse to partake in such a ridiculous experiment (even though a 1 drink per day limit is healthy, reasonable, and perfectly normal for anyone who is not a raging drunk). You can gauge quite a bit just by their reaction to the idea of the 30 day trial.
You can almost always tell who an alcoholic is by their reaction to suggestions for professional help and rehab, which will almost always be either angry outbursts or sad resentment towards the suggestion. This is all a fear based response at the idea of living without alcohol. Most alcoholics will lash out in anger at the idea that they seek professional help, and some will become sad and dejected that someone suggested this to them. But either way they are almost always covering up a fear of sobriety. It is unknown to them and they cannot imagine living their life without medicating their emotions with alcohol, so this creates a great deal of fear towards the idea.
Is there anything you can do to help? Well in most cases you will not get far simply by urging them to get professional help, but that doesn’t mean you should not try. Your best bet in many cases is to start by going to an Al-Anon meeting yourself in order to get support for yourself and better understand the disease.
Formal interventions may look great on television, but in real life, they rarely work like we think that they should, and are generally just a step on the path to the person’s surrender. In other words, most people are not going to get sober and stay that way forever based on a formal intervention. They might find the path eventually, but it is very rare than intervention pushes them into complete willingness.