Early signs of alcohol dependency

Alcohol dependency is a problem that can sneak up on you without you even realising. Perhaps it starts as just a social activity that gets out of hand over time, or maybe a stressful time in your life leads you to look for some kind of temporary escape from reality. Whatever the reason, it might take a considerable period of time before you begin to suspect you are becoming dependent on consuming alcohol on a regular basis. It could take even longer before you are willing to admit it out loud,  either to yourself or your partner, and perhaps longer still before you are willing to actually act on it. Part of the problem is that most of us actually enjoy a drink, it is relaxing, sociable, a good way to remove inhibitions, gain confidence etc.

The reason I have decided to write this hub is because I now fully believe I have gradually fallen into this exact same category, and my own dependence on alcohol has become too much to ignore. Although I am not an extreme case, I am still not happy with the way alcohol has become a vital factor in my day to day life, and this hub is partly to share the signs I have recognised that made me realise this, as well as other well known signs that I personally don't exhibit, but many other people do.

In my case I can actually recall when my problem truly began. It was after an Esso forecourt / petrol station franchise I had, failed, (largely due to Esso doubling the rent within 6 months of me taking on the franchise). I ended up in tens of thousands of pounds of debt in spite of having worked 65 plus hour weeks for the entire time I had run the franchise. In the end I was forced to declare myself bankrupt, and although there was nothing the authorities could take from me in terms of property etc, I still had to deal with the emotional aftermath. In fact to this day I also believe this may be where my problems with long term depression really kicked in.

I was already a smoker at the time, (although I have since quit smoking for over two years), so smoking more probably wasn't really going to help me much. Additionally my Husband and I smoked a certain amount of recreational cannabis at the time, but the stress of my business failing made me want to find a further crutch, a means to forget my recent experiences and the anger I was feeling towards Esso for putting me in this position. This is when I started to drink a bottle of German medium white wine on a daily basis, (usually the cheaper types like Liebfraumilch or Niersteiner which I actually liked). 'Only a bottle' you might say, well this was a 1.5 litre bottle at about 11% alcohol volume. As if this wasn't bad enough I started to order a pint of white wine at a time in the local pub, often having two of these per evening.

It wasn't long before I would start to get worried when I got below half a bottle in the fridge at home, and would buy two bottles at a time so I always had one in reserve. I was blissfully ignorant of the fact I had a problem developing, and bearing in mind that was back in about 1997, it clearly took me a very long time before I woke up to it, i.e. realisation starting to finally dawn in 2010.

Over the years that followed many things happened to me, the loss of my three year old Doberman Odin, closely followed by Husband's sudden death from bowel Cancer, my then suffering immense cruelty at the hands of his sons and his ex-wife who confiscated his car (long story), and additionally stole a very expensive camcorder from me that I had bought for him previously. I was forced to give up our rented home because I couldn't afford it alone, this in turn causing me to have to give up my own new business growing flowers and vegetables for resale, bouts of my own depression, returning to Guernsey, and then ultimately going off to Tenerife with a long lost first love of mine, who then turned out to be a complete control freak, all contributed to the building problem I had with alcohol.

Golly, this all sounds really bad when I list it like this, but really, I am not looking for sympathy, this is purely to illustrate why my alcohol dependency never really got a chance to fade away on its own. Even after I came back from the terrible relationship in Tenerife and met my current Husband, I had loads of debts, as did my new Husband, and this put us under stacks of pressure that was compounded when I got pregnant when it wasn't supposed to be possible for me. We made a desperate and hugely regretted decision to have an early termination, and wrongly assumed we might get another chance in the future when our finances were better. As a result of this termination I lost my job (another long story), and although I soon got another job, I was terribly upset to have lost the previous one which I genuinely loved.

In the years that followed we discovered I had completely messed up internal reproductive organs, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, adhesions, virtually no egg reserve etc. Essentially the IVF clinic said it would be waste of money for me to even attempt using IVF to have a baby.

It was around then when I was due to start a new job that the panic attacks started happening, (even during my final weeks in the previous position). I started to feel sick at the thought of going into work, I began to have severe mood swings, need loads of sleep, suffer memory loss etc. I went to my own Doctor and he confirmed what I already suspected, the depression was back, and with a vengeance! To cut a long story short, he signed me off work, and this has now been the case for over two years. I never did start in the new job, and as medications for depression made no difference, I ended up staying home, growing vegetables and generally continuing to drink on a daily basis. Over time the drinks changed, from white wine to red wine, and then from red wine to cider. In the last couple of years I have mostly drunk three to four cans of cider (each containing 2.6 units of alcohol), per night if at home, or the equivalent in pints in a pub, plus possibly a couple of glasses of red wine each time I visit my mum and Step Dad's house. This is what I now need to change.

The problem with both drinking and depression is that one compounds the other to a large degree. You end up in a typical 'Chicken and Egg' situation, the alcohol causes the depression, and the depression causes alcoholism, the question being which caused which in the first place? To this day I am not sure which applies in my case, as both go back to such a long time ago.

Well I guess if you have read this far and not got bored, you are probably keen to know what signs to look out for that you too might be alcohol dependant, or that you think might indicate a friend or relative of yours is developing a dependency on alcohol. The following list is based not only on my own experiences, but also on my further research into the signs to look for. I hope they help others to avoid ending up in the same situation.

The Early Signs of Alcohol Dependency

1) Needing to have a drink every day without being able to miss a day.

2) Always having to have alcohol in the house.

3) Sudden mood swings towards the people around you.

4) Short term memory loss on a day to day basis (this can happen even without having had a drink first).

5) Checking what time it is to make sure you get to the bar in time for opening.

6) Sleeping lots of hours but still waking up exhausted.

7) Being overly emotional, crying very easily, getting depression.

8) Lying to your partner about how much you have drunk or where you have been, i.e. the pub.

9) Receiving warnings from your employer for attending work smelling of alcohol.

10) Oversleeping for work or important appointments due to excessive alcohol the previous night.

11) Getting into fights when socialising.

12) Incurring injuries from accidents that happen after alcohol has been consumed, e.g. falling downstairs, cutting or burning yourself whilst 'after pub' cooking etc.

13) Taking lots of sick days from work due to hangovers.

14) Receiving a high Gamma GT count (Liver Count) on routine blood tests from your doctors.

15) Gaining a beer gut, (even women can get these although not always as obviously). Naturally this depends on if you drink drinks such as beer, cider, Guinness etc or if you drink wine and spirits. A beer gut is usually associated with the beer/cider drinker.

16) Neglecting personal hygiene in favour of drinking.

17) Not eating in favour of drinking.

18) Loss of libido / sex drive.

19) Intending to only have one drink, but once you start you have to continue with further drinks.

20) You continue to drink even though you are aware it is causing you problems in relationships, jobs, your health etc.

21) You get the shakes (DT's or Delirium Tremens) in your hands before you have your first drink each day.

22) You don't seem to 'get drunk' any more, even though you might still forget things the next day, in other words your physical tolerance for alcohol increases.

23) Redness or broken blood vessels on the face.

24) Your social life consists mostly of alcohol related activities, e.g. the pub, the night clubs, playing for pub darts or pool teams etc.

25) You drink your drinks very fast in order to become intoxicated as soon as possible.

26) You get angry and defensive if family or friends suggest you might be developing an alcohol problem.

27) Your attention span is reduced and your train of thought quickly wanders.

28) You struggle to retain information such as names, dates, conversations etc, even a very short time after receiving it.

29) See swelling, redness or even white spots on the palms of your hands.

30) Drinking first thing in the morning.

31) Wetting the bed, or peeing in inappropriate places in the night, (men think wardrobes etc).

32) Sleeping for a few hours, then waking up unable to get back to sleep (usually because the alcohol effect is wearing off).

Some of the above symptoms also cross into the realms of severe alcoholism, so if you are experiencing a large number of the above you are probably a potential candidate for having a major problem, if not now, very soon. At this point I personally only experience a relatively small element of the above symptoms, but enough to realise I need to make some changes now. I intend to hub further on my progress as I start by attempting to get my own blood Gamma GT level back down to healthy levels. To achieve this I need to begin by cutting the nights of the week I drink down from seven to four, and at the same time reducing the quantities I drink on the nights I am allowing myself to have a drink.

You might ask why I don't try stopping altogether or join a support group locally such as Alcoholics Anonymous! Well, the answer to that is that firstly I don't want to stop completely, I do enjoy a glass of wine with a meal out, or a social pint or two in the pub and I don't want to be sitting there sipping a coke all night. I want to get myself to a level where I am drinking safely, having a good time, but am able to say 'stop' when I am at the limit that is still healthy and safe. Even assuming I did want to stop drinking alcohol completely, joining Alcoholics Anonymous locally would be crazy. We live on a small island where gossip spreads incredibly fast. The odds are high someone at the support group would either know me, or would know someone else who did. In other words the correct name here for the group would have to be 'Alcoholics Not So Anonymous'. In a matter of days it would be all over the island that I was registered in the group and had a problem, soooooo not good!

As I said before. I shall be hubbing further on this as I reduce my own alcohol intake (hopefully) and reduce my own blood Gamma GT level. I hope you will follow my journey (through future hubs) as I attempt these lifestyle changes. At time of writing I just took two days off alcohol for the first time in about a year. Yes I struggled to sleep as a result, but on the plus side I ate better, drank loads of healthy Guernsey milk and felt a huge sense of achievement that I can actually miss days if I really try.

Look out for the next instalment in the weeks to come.

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Comments 32 comments

Lady Blah Blah profile image

Lady Blah Blah 5 years ago from South Carolina

Good luck. I hope you have the strength to do this on your own. Just remember, AA isn't the only option, although it's the cheapest. I've had many friends go through this in different ways. Most want to drink in moderation, but can't do it. Thanks for sharing your story and I wish you the best.

mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 5 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks Lady Blah Blah, I hope I have the strength too, but having survived all I have so far in life, I do believe if anyone can do it I can. If I can't I shall have to stop drinking altogether somehow, in the much the same way I managed to stop smoking.

stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon

Good hub - you might want to check out Moderation Management, although most people say that any alcohol dependency should be addressed with 100% abstention. Not what someone who enjoys drinking wants to hear, but....

mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 5 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

You may well be right stephhicks68, but I want to live, not just live longer LOL. If all else fails I will go down that route though, even if it is very hard. Thanks for your feedback :)

Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 5 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

Hey girlfriend! Count me in as a support as you cut back on your drinking. I hope you are able to do it successfully. As Lady Blah Blah said, cutting down can actually be harder than stopping completely.

Here's an idea to keep in mind as you begin your journey:

True alcoholics are unable to both control and enjoy their drinking. When the enjoy it they can't control it. When they control it they can't enjoy it and end up obsessing on the drinks they do allow themselves.

Will be interested to read your chronicle.

BTW, members of Alcoholics Anonymous take each other's anonymity seriously. I can't imagine they are otherwise where you live. At least I would hope not!

All the best to you. MM

mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 5 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Hi MM, so great to see you here. I agree you make an excellent point about the 'controlling versus enjoying alcohol', and this may well prove a stumbling block for me. I shall soon find out.

The AA over here might well be different I am afraid. It isn't just the people who would attend that are the problem, it is the people who would arrive to pick them up after a session, the family members they might mention your presence to etc. Guernsey is sadly an island that thrives off gossip. As they say, if someone hears you broke wind in St Peter Port (one of our parishes), within minutes the people at Torteval (another quite distant local parish) have heard you have chronic diarrhoea. The gossip moves rapidly and is also quickly distorted. You just can't risk it here as people have long memories. Even on our neighbouring island of Jersey they are saying they don't feel making the homeless people sell 'The Big Issue' homeless magazine on the streets would work because it is a small community and the stigma would be too much...

Bear in mind Jersey is quite a bit larger than we are!

prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

I never try alcohol drink at all. But Thanks for share this valuable information. I learn much from you. This drink was forbidden in my religion, so I never touch this at all. Good work, my friend. Vote up. Good bless you.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 5 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks Prasetio, I am glad you never have alcohol, as like smoking, you are much better off if you have never tried it. I don't know what religion you are, but it must be wise as far as alcohol goes.

diogenes profile image

diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

Hi Misty: As a past alcoholic myself (quit in 1983 but still have an occasional drink...some can; some can't) I recognise something in you that was apparent (aferwards) in myself. You list a long chain of unhappy circumstances and attribute your drinking on your misfortune. Often, we have put the cart before the horse and the miseries occur - or are aggravated by - our heavy drinking and the confusion that follows. I made so many bad decisions and choices during my alcoholic years...4 marriages, etc., etc. - wasted half a life time, really, although, yes, I had all the funsies - those I remember! But I wish I had never touched the stuff in the first place and I am sure my life would have been way different (not to mention the health problems I have now because of the years of excess) I just skimmed your hub and will read it thoroughly later...Bob

diogenes profile image

diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

I wanted to add, Misty, that my decision to quit was assisted by 3 years in Huntsville Prison, Texas, and 3 years of being the librarian of AA in there! (Ah, success at last). I have fallen by the wayside since, but drinking is not a problem for me any more...never did smoke, I think that's as bad as drinking...well done...Bob

VioletSun profile image

VioletSun 5 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

Cindy, my Dad died at age 59 from an alcoholic overdose; my brother also was an alcoholic, so we have this problem in our genes, and I am careful around drinking. This hub will be an eye opener for many. We have a hubber, "The Clean Life", who writes every week about staying sober, and he has succesfully quit drinking for over a year without AA. You could check out his hubs. I love to read them because his tips can be applied to life in general.

Wishing you success with your healing!

VioletSun profile image

VioletSun 5 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

Cindy, here is the link to Clean Life's hub on a sober life. Pretty good work!


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 5 years ago from UK

Hi Cindy, good luck with all this. I lost one very dear friend to alcohol some years back, and I have two others who literally danced with death before they got a grip on their problems. Just taking control of the situation is a good first step. You've come too far in life to be told what to do by a bottle of cider!

Mentalist acer profile image

Mentalist acer 5 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

In my family you're either a teetotaler or an alchoholic...I think in your case,if you can find positive distractions to juxtopose the preoccupation with alchohol you could have a good try at drinking normally.;)

mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 5 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Hi Bob, thanks for your feedback and sharing your story. I do hope you will get time to come back and read the hub again, as whilst I agree it is often the case that the drinking causes the problems rather than the other way around, most of mine were not something that could be caused by drinking, e.g. the forecourt failing happened before I had a problem, my Husband and my dog dying in the same year, the cruelty his family put me through, my next ex being a complete control freak, my debts were as a result of money I lost on the sale of my apartment in Tenerife, not through alcohol, and this in turn caused the decision to terminate my early pregnancy. My internal reproductive problems cannot be attributed to alcohol either etc. I am sure you can see what I mean.

I hope I don't end up having to go to prison to control my drinking ;) but I am glad it truly worked for you and you can now enjoy a social drink. It is nice to have you 'still around' and always lovely to have you visit my hubs :)

Thanks for your support :)

mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 5 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Hi VioletSun,

Thanks so much for your comment and you kind words of support, and for sharing your experiences of the problem. I am sorry you lost your Father to this when he was so young.

I shall most certainly check out Clean Life's Hub, and thanks for posting the link here :)

Thanks for all your support too.

mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 5 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Hi Amanda,

Thank you too for your comment and support. I hope you are right and that I can sort myself out and get this under control. Surely if I can survive all that I have and stop smoking, I must be able to achieve this as well :)

mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 5 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Hi MA. I hope you are right. I shall definitely give it a good try now that I have made the decision to get it under control. Thanks so much for your comment :)

the clean life profile image

the clean life 5 years ago from New Jersey Shore

VioletSun, First off, thank you so much for mentioning me and my hub in your comments. I really do appreciate it so much. You hub was written wonderful but I feel so bad that you have had to go through so many hurdles in your life and the death of you Dad. You are as I said before a very strong woman and I admire you so much for all that you have gone through and how you worked so hard to change your life. Stay strong and positive and I know all things and problems will ease away. It may night happen overnight, but it will happen. Thanks was one of my problems when I got clean and sober. I thought everything would change right away, but it took a long time to become addicted to alcohol and it will not disappear overnight. It is a lot of hard work and patience but as each and everyday that passes life is getting better.

God Bless you and your family and thanks again !!!

mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 5 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Hi The Clean Life,

I think there is a bit of confusion here. Violet did mention you here, but on my Hub, (this is not Violet's hub). The experiences above were gone through by me, and it was the death of my Husband, not my Dad, (although ironically I did lose my own Father at 16 and can see that Violet lost hers too from her above comment). I am not sure how much of your comment was actually aimed at me therefore, and possibly under the assumption it was Violet who wrote this.

I would hate for you to think Violet was saying she had to sort out the level she was drinking at when actually it was me. Violet recommended I read your Hub, (which I fully intend to), and this might be where the confusion lies :)

dablufox profile image

dablufox 5 years ago from Australia

I truly admire your courage in being so open about your life's story and I hope you see brighter day in the future, take care!

mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 5 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks dablufox, I have written a number of hubs now that are very personal parts of my life, but the feedback I have always received from others has been inspiring, be it those who simply support me, to those who have been, or are going, through the same stuff themselves and feel they have now found a kindred spirit. It makes it worth taking the risk of leaving myself vulnerable by speaking out about these aspects of my life.

BigSerious profile image

BigSerious 5 years ago from Harrisburg, PA

Very courageous and great of you to share your experience and invite us to be with you as you work toward a healthier lifestyle. As a result of my biological mother's drinking (and subsequent drug abuse), my three siblings and I were taken from her when I was 12 and my youngest sibling only 4. Before being taken away, we watched a man die on our couch from cirrhosis of the liver, a bottle of blueberry scnhapps in his hand, his body smelling like rotting meat. I wouldn't wish that sort of dependency on anybody, and if they miss these early signs, they may end up the same way.

It's incredibly difficult to tell a loved one you think they have a problem. One of your signs was how angry they may get when someone suggests they have a problem, and lying about how much they drink. Getting past those barriers seem impossible. It is truly great you are aware of your dependency and are making changes. Good luck, and thank you!

mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 5 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks so much BigSerious, comments like yours make all the difference, and will act not only as a reminder of just how bad things could get if the problem isn't acted on, but also how important it is to recognise the problem for what it is and deal with it :)

Virtual Treasures profile image

Virtual Treasures 5 years ago from Michigan

My heart goes out to you Misty, and I wholeheartedly send my prayers and best wishes to you and hopes for success in every area of your life. Self-medication can work for a while, but not forever, and the simple fact that you are taking control of your life is tremendous! Good luck!

mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 5 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thank you Virtual Treasures, I truly appreciate this lovely heart-warming comment. I am long overdue to sort out this problem, so now is a good time to start changing things for the better :)

Karanda profile image

Karanda 5 years ago from Australia

Well done for recognising what could be a potentially life threatening problem. It is easy to go from being a social drinker to someone who is totally dependent. I have seen it first hand with many friends, some no longer with us because of it. I look forward to reading your journey and wish you well.

mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 5 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks Karanda, I am sure it won't be an easy journey, but better to try now than continue in a slowly downward direction.

the clean life profile image

the clean life 3 years ago from New Jersey Shore

Misty, I am so glad you wrote this hub. Man you have been through it hun, but I am proud of you for telling your story. It takes a strong person to write their life for the world to read. What you are doing will indeed help you slow up on your drinking and maybe stop altogether one day. This is why I have been writing on my past addiction to alcohol. It does help me to stay sober knowing I maybe helping someone in the world realize that there is always hope for sobriety.

I wish so much I could go to a pub and have one or two beers, BUT that would never happen. I can't stop once I start and I know this for a fact, so the only thing I can do is not drink a drop at all and I will be safe. Your hub is so well written with lots of good info on the warning signs that will help many that don't know them.

The best of luck to you Misty in cutting down. That is a huge step in the right direction!! God Bless you and sorry for your loss of you dog and husband. God Bless you my friend :)

mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 3 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks so much 'The Clean Life' (Mark). I wrote this a little while back, and think I need to re-read it myself as right now I have just got back from a holiday which needless to say involved rather too much red wine. Time to really start to plan my strategy for cutting down. Your writing on this subject is unbeatable, and I have found the articles on your experiences inspirational.

the clean life profile image

the clean life 3 years ago from New Jersey Shore

Thank you Misty for your kind words to me. You can do it my friend. I never thought I could, but I made it. It hasn't been easy dear but I keep that promise to myself and stay positive. Keep writing Misty and it will help you like it has helped me over the years.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 3 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks Mark, I will try :)

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