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What Are The Common Behaviors Of An Alcoholic?

Alcohol can exacerbate existing pieces of a person’s personality and lead to the development of new behaviors. In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at the behaviors of an alcoholic by answering the following:

What Are The 4 Types Of Drinkers?

Before we get into the categorization of alcoholism, let’s take a look at the different types of drinkers and how at risk each of these types is to developing addiction.

The Social Drinker

The most common type of drinker is the social drinker. This individual drinks in social situations like get-togethers and parties to increase enjoyment. Social drinkers are typically associated with moderate alcohol use, but this can escalate over time and become problematic if a person is only able to enjoy their time if alcohol is involved.

The Conforming Drinker

The conforming drinker drinks alcohol to fit in. They don’t particularly want to drink and tend to drink less than others. For example, they may have a couple of sips of wine or open a can of beer to blend in with those around them.

The Enhancement Drinker

Unlike the prior types, an enhancement drinker is much riskier. Drinking for enhancement motives is associated with impulsivity and aggression. This type is also likely to have a risk-taking personality and extroverted demeanor. Rather than drinking to fit in or get a slight buzz, the enhancement drinker typically drinks in social situations to feel drunk.

The Coping Drinker

Of the four drinking types, the coping drinker is the most at risk for alcohol use disorder (AUD). Those who drink to cope with negative or difficult emotions are more likely to have a negative self-view and deal with mental health problems like anxiety and depression. One significant issue with this type of drinker is that they’re more likely to drink alone rather than solely in social settings, which contributes to the onset of addiction.

What Is The Difference Between A Habitual Drinker And An Alcoholic?

Habitual drinkers may drink moderately at social events or have a few glasses of wine throughout the week. This individual doesn’t consume more than the recommended amount of alcohol for their gender, nor does alcohol have a significant impact on their life (causing them to call out sick from work or school, being their go-to stress reliever, a must-have for social situations, etc.)

To put this into perspective, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommended less than one drink daily for women and less than two drinks daily for men. Keep in mind that these recommendations aren’t meant to be the average drinking but rather a daily limit if you choose to drink on a particular day.

An alcoholic does not adhere to these guidelines and drinks at unhealthy levels without self-control. Essentially, they cannot stop drinking. Alcoholism itself is a chronic disease characterized by uncontrolled drinking and a preoccupation with alcohol. Those who suffer from alcoholism, called alcoholics, are unable to manage their drinking habits with a physical and emotional dependence on the substance. This not only harms their own well-being but can also affect those around them, especially those closest to them.

Common Characteristics Of An Alcoholic

People with alcohol use disorder may have specific characteristics as a result of the alcoholic abuse. These traits are connected to their need to hide or manipulate others to enable addiction, as well as the direct impact of excessive alcohol consumption.

Trying to keep their alcohol problem a secret typically includes behaviors that are deceptive, manipulative, and secretive. The alcoholic may be a compulsive liar and physically hide bottles, lie about where they’ve been, or how much they’ve drank. As a direct result of the addiction, an alcoholic may experience irritability, anxiety, and aggression when they don’t have access to alcohol (withdrawal symptoms) or as a result of alcohol consumption.

What Kind Of People Are Prone To Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is commonly associated with co-existing mental health conditions and having a family history of substance abuse. 

As mentioned earlier in this blog, the primary type of drinker likely to develop alcohol addiction is the coping drinker. Many people with mental health problems will use substances like alcohol to self-medicate and soothe symptoms. As a result, this leads to an unhealthy cycle of coping and addiction. Similarly, alcoholism in the family can significantly increase an individual’s risk. Whether it’s their genetic disposition or childhood observance, alcoholism is very much a family disease that impacts more than the user.

People With Mental Health Conditions

Alcoholism is commonly seen in people with co-existing mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety disorders, or borderline personality disorder. Around one-third of alcoholics suffer from mental illness. Among these individuals, depression was the most prevalent co-occurring mental health condition (63% of alcoholics experience major depressive disorder). 

Likewise, 20% of alcoholics suffer from anxiety or a mood disorder. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is another mental health condition disorder among alcoholics. Of veterans seeking treatment for alcoholism, 30% also have PTSD. Other mental health conditions that can put a person at greater risk of alcoholism include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and chronic stress.

People With A Family History of Alcohol Abuse

Likewise, if one or more parents have a history of alcohol abuse, offspring may be more susceptible to developing an addiction due to genetics or their upbringing and exposure to the disease. A person’s predisposition to alcoholism is highly dependent upon genetics. Evidence-based studies show about 50% of alcoholism can be attributed to genetic factors. That said, genetics alone do not determine whether someone develops alcoholism. 

Exposure to alcoholism from a young age through a loved one can significantly increase a person’s likelihood of acquiring the disease. Not only does the individual witness the alcoholism firsthand, but they may also learn to use it for unhealthy coping. A dysfunctional family system due to addiction contributes to poor mental health and stress, which may increase substance abuse risk.

How To Help A Loved One With Alcohol Use Disorder

If the characteristics of alcoholism resonate with you or a loved one, don’t be dismayed; help exists. Harmony Junction Recovery has a surplus of treatments available to support recovery. Our medical detoxes, behavioral therapies, and programs are designed to target more than just addiction by addressing the underlying causes.

Harmony Junction Recovery for Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol treatment centers always begin with a detox to make sure the substance is safely out of the patient’s system. In a sober state, they can begin addiction treatment and needed medication to begin their long-term sobriety. Reach out to learn more today about how you or your loved one struggling with alcohol can start treatment today.