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Are There Different Signs of Alcoholism?

by Lynn

I'm worried about my boyfriend. He comes from a family with several alcoholics including both parents, his sister and probably an uncle or two, I'm unsure of the mother's side but I do know both parents had drug problems.

He knows this, and doesn't drink too often, but when he does go out he doesn't seem to be able to stop drinking and it's getting worse. He doesn't drink everyday, but he is having a beer in the evening more frequently as his problems with work get worse.

Tonight he got so drunk he ran away from me when I went to pick him up from a friends house and I had to call the police to get him home. He was so belligerent he didn't know where he was and couldn't speak and could barely walk. I'm staying up watching him sleep now because I'm worried about alcohol poisoning.

He's progressively getting more and more drunk on the occasions that he does drink a lot. I didn't think one drink in the evenings, maybe three times a week was bad, but now I'm concerned. I've never seen him this bad before.

I usually think of alcoholism as needing to drink everyday, but can it manifest in other ways? Is the inability to know when you've had way too much a symptom? Should he even be drinking at all coming from a family of so many alcoholics?

I have no real experience with this since, luckily, I do not have anyone with substance abuse issues in my immediate family, and I'm worried I may have been missing warning signs. Please, I really need some advice. I don't know what to do.

Thank you.


Hi Lynn

The fact that your boyfriend has a history of alcoholism in his family definitely places him more at risk, because it is now widely accepted that one of the primary causes in alcoholism is that it's hereditary.

You also don't necessarily need to be drinking every day to be regarded as an alcoholic. Many alcoholics go through periods where they binge heavily, and then stay sober for a while again, only to repeat the pattern consistently.

Alcoholism is also a progressive disease - so even though your boyfriend doesn't drink too often yet - being aware of the alcoholism stages and how your boyfriend's drinking may evolve will be helpful. And yes, not knowing your limits and when you've had enough consistently is definitely a symptom of alcoholism because all alcoholics are unable to control their drinking once they've started.

Then I would also suggest you take a look at these three pieces and try and apply them to your boyfriend:

Early Signs of Alcoholism
Ten Warning Signs of Alcoholism
Alcoholism Test

They will give you a good idea of the kinds of things to look out for, and how serious your boyfriend's drinking is at this stage.

But irrespective of all these things and whether one is labelled an alcoholic - I believe the biggest sign to look out for is whether someone's drinking is becoming a problem.

So if your boyfriend's drinking is serious enough to be causing problems with things like his own sense of well-being (mood, state of mind etc.), relationships, work etc. - then I would say it's serious enough that he should do something about it and consider getting help.

Especially considering the fact that he does have a family history of addiction and the drinking patterns you describe, suggest he shouldn't drink at all because he's at too high a risk of this developing into a serious addiction.

And the best time to do something about it is now, while he's still in the early stages of a problem, because the longer you leave it, the more difficult it becomes to overcome.

So when your boyfriend sobers up again, it may be time to have a serious chat with him about this. The fact that he is conscious of his family history make it seem like he will be receptive to you broaching this subject with him.

I hope everything works out for the best and let us know what happens or if you have any other questions.

Good luck and take care

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Sep 13, 2009
Genetic Influence

The genetic influence in addiction is huge. With your boyfriend's family history and the way his behaviour is starting to go when drinking, I'd definitely be worried. Best he do something about it now, because even though he may be in the early stages of a problem developing, because in can very quickly spiral out of control. I hope everything works out!

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