Are you worried that a family member in your home or another person close to you has a hidden drinking problem? It is estimated that 85.6 percent of individuals in the United States have tried alcohol at one point in their lives, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Of those 85 percent, 25.8 percent participate in binge drinking and heavy alcohol usage. This can lead to alcohol use disorder (AUD), which affects 5.3 percent of individuals who are 12 years of age or older. These statics mean that 14.5 million people have AUD, and some of those people may be hiding drinking from you.
The Five Subtypes of AUD
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) have identified five alcoholism subtypes. This means that not everyone with AUD has typical alcoholism, which is characterized by the common stereotype of being poor and uneducated. In fact, 20 percent of people with AUD are educated and have good incomes. This makes them high functioning and more likely to have a hidden drinking problem, but let’s explore the five subtypes.
- Young Adult – This comprises 31.5 percent of individuals with AUD. These individuals are least likely to seek help. They do not consume any other substances, don’t have a history of mental illness, and their family members don’t tend to have AUD.
- Young Antisocial – this comprises 21 percent of the individuals with AUD in the United States. These individuals tend to be in their 20s and started drinking early in their lives. They have diagnosed and undiagnosed mental health problems and they tend to have co-occurring substance use disorders. More than 50 percent of their families also have AUD. Roughly 33 percent of these individuals seek treatment.
- Functional – Functional AUD occurs in 19.5 percent of individuals. These people tend to be educated with high-paying jobs. Thirty-three percent have a family history of alcoholism, including in past generations. Fifty percent are smokers and nearly 33 percent have had at least one episode of major depressive disorder in their lifetime.
- Intermediate Familial – This subtype accounts for 19 percent of the individuals with AUD in the United States. They tend to have generations of family members with AUD. Twenty percent have mental health issues, and 20 percent have co-occurring substance use disorders. Roughly twenty-five percent of these individuals seek treatment.
- Chronic Severe – this subtype accounts for 9 percent of the individuals with AUD in the United States. These individuals have a history of mental health problems and substance use disorder with multiple substances. They also have a multigenerational family history of AUD. Nearly 66 percent seek treatment.
Signs Someone in Your Life Is Hiding Drinking Alcohol
Individuals hide drinking problems for a variety of reasons. They may have moral or religious convictions that make drinking alcohol a sin or morally abhorrent. They have a fear of being judged for their over-consumption of alcohol, and they fear having to acknowledge that they have a drinking problem. High-functioning alcoholics may not even realize they have a problem. After all, they may drink a lot, but they’re still able to hold a job with a good salary. The good news is that there are signs you can watch for if you think one of your family members or friends is hiding drinking alcohol.
1. You’ve caught them drinking more than a moderate amount of alcohol on more than one occasion.
According to the CDC, moderate alcohol consumption is defined by men who have two drinks or less per day and women who have one drink or less per day. In other words, men can have up to 14 drinks a week and women can have up to seven drinks a week. Anything over this amount is considered heavy drinking, and if your loved one drinks more than 4 (women) or 5 (men) drinks during a single occasion and within two hours, it’s considered binge drinking. Now, it’s important to note that heavy drinking and binge drinking isn’t enough to classify someone as having AUD or having a hidden drinking problem, so let’s take a look at some more signs.
2. You Find Alcohol Bottles Hidden Around the House.
People with hidden drinking problems are creative when it comes to hiding their alcohol. You may find bottles hidden in the tank of your toilet, under the bed, in closets and boxes, and in containers where you wouldn’t expect alcohol, such as soda bottles, hairspray bottles, and even disposable and reusable water bottles.
3. They have a higher than average tolerance for alcohol consumption.
In this scenario, when you do drink with your loved ones, you may find that they can consume a lot more than you. They start earlier than you, and they continue drinking long after you’re finished drinking for the evening. They may also appear not as impaired as they should be given the number of alcoholic beverages they consumed.
4. They prefer vodka.
Vodka is an excellent mixer and goes well in soda, coffee, and juices. It doesn’t have a strong smell when compared to other types of alcohol, and due to its clear color, it’s easier to conceal in other bottles.
5. They have a sudden interest in the freshness of their breath.
You may notice that your loved one brushes their teeth more often or uses more mouthwash, breath mints, and breath fresheners. If your loved one has never shown much of an interest in these products before, it could indicate a drinking problem.
6. Your loved one is suddenly accident-prone.
Alcohol consumption affects physical maneuverability and stability. As a result, they may fall or bump into things more often. This can create bruises and cuts. If your loved one has suddenly become a klutz, and you notice lots of bruises and cuts, it may be because they’re drinking so much they’re falling and injuring themselves.
7. They get sick more often.
If your previously healthy family member or loved one suddenly appears to have a lot of colds and other ailments that they didn’t use to get, it could be from alcohol consumption. Consuming lots of alcohol lowers the ability of the immune system to fight off infection.
8. They lie.
If you find alcohol and bottles around the house and happen to notice your loved one’s alcohol consumption, illness, or bruises and confront them about it, they may lie. It could be a simple lie like they tripped down the stairs at work, or it could be quite elaborate. The individual may have even convinced themselves that what they are telling you is the truth, which makes it harder to determine if they are lying.
9. They have uncharacteristic mood swings.
If your previously emotionally stable partner, spouse, friend, or extended family member suddenly displays mood instability, it could be from their AUD. The mood swings can occur when they are drinking or not drinking. They may show irrational anger over small things or sadness.
10. They’re not listening anymore.
As alcoholism or AUD worsens, the individual will have an increasingly harder time staying focused and present on the job and at home. This is because their thoughts are now consumed around when and where they’ll be getting their next drink.
11. They’re always broke, or money is missing.
If you share a bank account with your loved one, you may notice more money being pulled out of ATMs, and when confronted, your loved one has no idea what they spent that money on. The money drain can get so severe that you can have trouble paying your bills. If you don’t share a bank account with your loved one, they may suddenly start complaining that they have no money spite making a good salary. They may even ask you for small amounts of money for gas or food. The truth is that they’re spending all their money on alcohol, and now, they need your money for more alcohol.
If you or one of your loved ones is hiding drinking, there is help available at Allure Detox in West Palm Beach, Florida. We offer medical detox for alcohol addiction and residential treatment that can include holistic therapies, even if you or your loved one has a dual diagnosis of substance use disorder or AUD with mental illness.
To get help today from our understanding and caring staff, call us today!