Abusing alcohol is extremely common in our society today. In fact, it's probably the most socially acceptable behavior of the addictions I treat. This makes it important to understand what alcohol abuse symptoms in men can look like.
Nearly all of the professional men that I treat for abusing alcohol are functional alcoholics. That means the traditional alcoholic stereotype of the guy going to the bar every night, drinking until closing, coming home drunk, beating his wife and can't keep a job, doesn't fit. Below are 4 of the most common symptoms of alcohol abuse in men and how they manifested in 4 men that I've helped.
John is a medical doctor. One of the unique things about John is that he doesn't typically drink. Yes, you read that right -- he struggles with abusing alcohol, but he doesn't drink it regularly. In his personal life he drinks a couple of times a year at the most, always when eating out and even then only has one drink. But John has repeatedly snuck beer into his medical office and drank during the workday in between seeing patients. If you're shocked that a doctor would do this, don't be because it's more common than you'd like to think.
John doesn't drink to the point of getting drunk, but enough to get a buzz and take the edge off. Drinking for John is a way he manages the stress of his work and the pressures he places on himself. The common alcohol abuse symptom in men in John's case is his strange behavior -- he doesn't drink much in his personal life, but does at work; his staff has caught his drinking by noticing his behavior becoming odd at work.
Deception and Lying
Craig is a pastor. He drinks regularly when out with friends and prides himself on being a different kind of pastor. He believes he's more approachable by people because he is more like them and thinks his willingness to drink demonstrates this. So when he's golfing with buddies or eating out with friends, he has a drink or two.
Unfortunately for Craig, his drinking didn't stop there. Craig drank at home too. He says he's never been drunk in public around others, but at home he has. His wife, Shelley, didn't really have a big problem with his drinking until it started to get out of control at home. When it started to cause conflict between he and Shelley, he started to hide it. Shelley didn't realize that the vodka bottle in the cabinet never changed amount because Craig just kept refilling it (with water) when he drank it. Shelley thought Craig was drinking, but he deceived her and lied about it when asked, so she was never really sure. Deception and lying are one of the most common symptoms of alcohol abuse for men.
Nick oversees the finances of a 500-person corporation with locations throughout California. Anne knew when she married Nick that he'd had a drinking problem in the past. He's had DUIs and has been arrested for domestic violence, too. Anne lives in constant suspicion - every day wondering if Nick's drinking again. Is she paranoid? Not really. When she found an empty bottle behind the seat of his truck, Nick claimed it was from a long time ago. When Nick didn't get rid of all the alcohol bottles from a party at their house, and kept the half-filled ones under the sink, she was suspicious why, but he denied he was drinking any of it. He offered to take a Breathalyzer test, so she bought one, and strangely it kept showing a very slight amount of alcohol, but he said since it was showing such a minuscule amount it had to be an error. Partners of drinkers are often stuck between choosing to believe half facts or the emphatic denials of their partners. Finally, Nick got caught drinking again and he couldn't deny it anymore. Signs of alcohol abuse always include denial.
Ben is an engineer. He's struggled with drug abuse for most of his life. In fact, he's been in rehab multiple times. He's always drank but it's never been his preferred substance, until now. Ben drinks a bottle of wine every night before taking his Xanax and going to bed. He says he needs to do this so he can sleep. Fortunately for Ben, he's not married and has no one close to him to hold him accountable for his behavior (not a coincidence). Ben justifies his drinking by comparing it to his past -- he used to drink vodka, now it's just wine. He used to be addicted to cocaine, so what's the big deal about a little wine at the end of a long day? That's what Ben tells himself, but deep down he knows that his excessive drinking is not good for his health. Everyone who drinks too much is well-skilled at justifying their problem behavior, which is why it's always a symptom in men of alcohol abuse.
A doctor, pastor, executive and engineer. Four regular guys who all abuse alcohol and show the most common symptoms in men who do -- strange, odd behavior; deception and lying; denial; justifying. If you know someone whom you suspect is abusing alcohol too, read back through these men's stories and how these symptoms can manifest and look for ways these symptoms could be present in your situation.
Probably the most common symptom of all is suspecting alcohol abuse but not knowing for sure. As you've seen above, alcohol abuse symptoms in men can be hard to prove definitively. One of the best things to do is to get the help of a professional counselor experienced in treating substance abuse. Getting the assistance of a professional who is objective and able to see through the BS can be invaluable in escaping the maze that alcohol abuse creates.
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