In What Does an Addict or Alcoholic Look Like?, we talk about the stereotypes of addiction and, along with the tell-tale signs of substance abuse. While using certain drugs may change an addict’s appearance, it’s rare to see physical signs that a person is an alcoholic.

Alcoholism does indeed take a toll on the skin, dehydrating it and speeding up aging. However, problematic skin is not exclusive to alcoholics. There’s no way to look at a person and determine if they are an alcoholic based on their looks alone. As a disease that can affect anyone, it isn’t until you look deeper and observe specific behaviors that you can spot the signs of alcoholism.

According to, there are 15 million Americans over the age of 18 living with an alcohol use disorder. Unfortunately, alcoholics aren’t easy to spot as many have learned how to hide their disorder and live as “high-functioning” alcoholics. As we continue our conversation, we will discuss alcoholism and the red flags you should look for if you suspect your loved one is struggling with alcohol use disorder.

How to Identify an Alcoholic

While there are varying degrees of alcoholism and alcohol abuse, most alcoholics will have a noticeable and unusually high tolerance for alcohol. Just because someone appears to “hold their liquor” well or doesn’t seem intoxicated, it doesn’t mean they’re fine. This is especially true if you’ve all had the same amount to drink, and they don’t seem to need or want to slow down.

Alcoholics also look for any excuse to drink, turning to alcohol whether they’re happy, mad, or sad. They may find any reason to celebrate so that they can pour themselves a glass of wine or pop open a beer. Always having a steady supply of alcohol is their priority, even if it means putting off financial obligations.

Many alcoholics also hide bottles of booze, so alcohol is always within reach. They may keep a bottle in their desk drawer at work or even in their bedroom nightstand. Some alcoholics carry a flask with them everywhere they go so they can secretly drink throughout the day – taking a swig when no one is looking or mixing the liquor into an inconspicuous beverage.

If you drink at social events or on occasion, you probably have a favorite drink; it could be white wine, bourbon, whiskey, and so on. If your drink of choice is not on the menu or not being served at the party, you may skip drinking that night altogether. Unlike most moderate social drinkers, alcoholics won’t deny a drink if their preferred brand or beverage is not available. They’ll take whatever they can get.

Managing an alcohol use disorder comes with emotional and physical ups and downs. Even the high-functioning alcoholics will slip and allow their alcoholism to affect their personal and professional lives. The alcohol will affect their mood, cloud their judgment, or make them forgetful. They may drop the ball when it comes to their responsibilities at work, school, or home. Their behavior may change significantly when they’re without a drink for a long time. They’re fine when they’re drinking, but they may be angry and irritable when they’re not.

When chronic drinking becomes an issue, the individual may experience extreme mood swings, temporary blackouts, and short-term memory loss. If you have a loved one whose moods are erratic, especially when drinking is involved, it may be time for an intervention.

To learn more about interventions and how they may help a loved one, please contact us today. We can typically arrange a direct conversation with an interventionist that same day. If you have any questions about interventions, leave us your number and get an instant callback. You can also call (619) 630-7844