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What are the signs of problem drinking?

Worried man on the phone

  • Regularly drinking more than they meant to
  • Neglecting responsibilities at home, work, or school if drinking starts to become the main focus of their life. For example, missing work or college or letting down the children because they’re drunk or hung over.
  • Drinking even though alcohol is causing relationship problems. For example, staying in the pub even though it upsets you, fighting and arguing with family members, spending money that the family can’t afford.
  • Needing to drink - to feel better, relax or de-stress or when something goes wrong.
  • Putting themselves at risk. For example, drinking and driving or mixing alcohol with prescription medication against doctor’s orders.
  • Hiding their drinking habits to protect themselves.
  • Drinking alone at times.
  • "Blacking out” or forgetting what they did while drinking.
  • Legal problems. For example, getting arrested for drink driving, or fighting or damaging property while drunk.

Do you recognise these signs? If so, you may not be sure how to help. See What’s the best way to help someone with a drinking problem? for some advice. 

Worried about your own drinking? 

If you recognise these signs in your own drinking pattern, read:

Worried about your drinking? 

You can still get help for yourself and other people affected, even if the person drinking isn't ready to make a change

Read more:

What’s the best way to help someone with a drinking problem?

Why can't they just stop? - Understanding dependence

How can I talk to someone about their drinking?

Alcohol and the family

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