abusive alcoholic

Alcohol Abuse: Identifying Early Signs of Alcohol Dependence

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a clinical diagnosis of alcohol addiction or alcoholism. The 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) estimated that 14.5 million people ages 12 and older had an AUD. While there’s a considerable number of people with this disorder, only less than 10% of those who suffer from AUD seek any kind of treatment.

For some people, all alcoholics fit a certain stereotype—unemployed, in financial straits due to their alcohol habits, unsuccessful, and likely violent against their family. Because they subscribe to this way of thinking, they may refuse to believe that they would ever become dependent on alcohol.

The truth is, alcohol addiction and alcohol dependence affect people of all ages, outward appearances, and walks of life. Mild alcohol abuse is easily overlooked, especially those who enjoy social drinking. However, a seemingly minor issue can quickly escalate into something severe and dangerous over time.

It’s important to look out for signs of alcohol dependence and potential alcohol abuse so people can seek treatment as soon as possible. Ignoring these signs can lead to drunken accidents, avoidable injuries, and damaged relationships.

Identifying Early Signs of Alcohol Dependence

Alcohol abuse can escalate and spiral out of control if left untreated, causing significant harm to a person’s life and those around them. Although there’s no perfect formula to determine whether or not a person has developed a dependence on alcohol, there are common symptoms that may signify the early signs of AUD.

Some symptoms include:

  • Drinking instead of fulfilling obligations and responsibilities
  • Making excuses for drinking
  • Drinking to feel normal
  • Drinking in secrecy
  • Experiencing hangovers without drinking
  • Isolation from friends and family members
  • Choosing the company of other heavy drinkers
  • Irritability and mood swings when not drinking
  • Temporary blackouts or short-term memory loss

Alcohol abuse symptoms should not be ignored, even if it seems like a minor problem that will not cause any damage. Again, alcohol dependence can quickly escalate to severe alcohol abuse if not kept in check. Intervention and treatment are crucial for those in the early stages of dependence to ensure their addiction will not get worse.

Recognizing Alcoholism

One of the most commonly used screening tools to determine alcoholism is the CAGE questionnaire. People who answer “yes” to two or more of these questions should seek medical assistance immediately:

  1. Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?
  2. Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?
  3. Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
  4. Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to get over a hangover or steady your nerves?

Understanding the Dangers of Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse can lead to many issues that affect the psychological, emotional, mental, physical, professional, and even financial aspects of a person’s life. Prolonged drinking can lead to potentially life-threatening consequences, including serious injury or even death.

Every year, over 3 million deaths worldwide result from the harmful use of alcohol. Every day in the United States, 29 people die in vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. That’s one death every 50 minutes.

It’s important to identify signs of alcohol dependence or alcohol abuse in people to avoid these deadly accidents or even simply being charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.


Alcohol abuse is incredibly dangerous, not just for those who suffer from it but for all the people around them. Denial of alcohol abuse symptoms means people will go about their daily lives without realizing that they are a walking, talking, and even driving hazard.

If you are facing DUI charges in Boston, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Frank Fernandez of The Fernandez Firm has defended clients against charges of drunk driving for years. Contact us today for a free consultation about your case.