How Can I Identify Alcohol Abuse and Addiction?

Individuals in the early stages of addiction are more likely to be successful if treatment is sought than those in the later stages of addiction. The earlier a person seeks help the easier it is to maintain abstinence from drug or alcohol use long term. An alcohol or drug addiction problem can be identified by looking for telltale signs and providing support immediately. Find out what to look for and how to help if a loved one is struggling with addiction.



A number of warning signs show up in a person who is using drugs or alcohol. An actual diagnosis of addiction can be made by a trained addiction specialist or other medical professional. Some of the questions a doctor may ask an individual about drinking or drug use may include:

  • Is drinking or drug use hidden from others?
  • Do withdrawal symptoms begin when drugs or alcohol are not used?
  • Is tolerance a problem (more alcohol or drugs are needed for the same effect)?
  • Does drinking or drug use continue in spite of negative consequences (legal, health, school, work, home life)?
  • Does more time get spent drinking or doing drugs than before?
  • Does more time get spent recovering from drinking or drug use episodes?
  • Have attempts to quit using alcohol or drugs failed more than once?


A person cannot be diagnosed with alcoholism or addiction without expert consultation from a medical doctor, psychiatrist or licensed psychologist. Experts usually conduct a full physical examination to explore family history of abuse. Once this occurs, the medical support person can determine next steps.


What’s Next

Diagnosis of an addiction problem can result in getting treatment promptly, so long as the person is willing. The following list can provide ideas for next steps to take to help a person seek treatment.


Accept the problem. Informing loved ones of a decision to seek treatment will aid in recovery. Family and friends will be needed for support during treatment so be sure to include everyone at the beginning of the journey.


Speak with an addiction specialist. An individual with experience in addictions can help decide best course of treatment. Assessments will help establish a baseline addiction treatment plan going forward.


Arrange treatment. Inpatient and outpatient treatment options are available depending on the individual’s need, desire and ability to enroll.


Taking next steps to seek treatment for addiction is the first step in recovery. Identifying key issues, finding support and seeking treatment are all important when navigating addiction. When a loved one is struggling it is easy to feel overwhelmed but with the help and support of others who understand the process, it is possible to find help and recover from addiction and lead a long, healthy life in sobriety.


If you or a loved one need help for an addiction to alcohol or other substance, we are here to help. Call us to find out how we can answer your questions or concerns about addiction, treatment and recovery.