Characteristics of an Alcoholic to Look Out For

Identifying alcoholism can be more difficult than you think. 

Alcoholism might look different for every person but one thing is certain – alcoholism doesn’t discriminate. In the United States, over 14 million people suffer from alcohol use disorder. 

For high-functioning alcoholics, the symptoms may be more subtle, for others, it is difficult to hide their drinking habits. 

If you suspect that you or a loved one might be at risk of alcoholism, it is important to be able to identify the characteristics of an alcoholic.

Keep reading to learn about alcoholic personality traits and to get the help that you need. 

What Is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is most recently referred to as alcohol use disorder. This disorder is characterized by a lack of control in behavior and emotion when it comes to drinking. 

Those with alcohol use disorder will find it very difficult to stop drinking, even when there are severe negative consequences. They likely have trouble maintaining their physical health, their relationships, and their work. Often, alcoholics will prioritize their drinking and neglect even their most important responsibilities. 

Despite the damage and chaos in their lives, alcoholics keep drinking because of the physical and emotional dependence they have on alcohol. 

Signs of Alcoholism 

There are many alcoholism symptoms that are more obvious and easier to see as problematic. You may want to consider seeking help if you identify with any of the following:

  • Regularly appearing intoxicated 
  • Drinking more get the same effects 
  • Neglecting important responsibilities at home or work 
  • Losing friendships or relationships because of drinking
  • Drinking in the morning 
  • Drinking when alone 
  • Experiencing legal issues due to drinking 
  • Inability to remember your actions after a night of drinking
  • Getting angry or defensive when someone confronts you about drinking 

These are just some of the more obvious signs and symptoms of alcohol use disorder. There are personality traits and characteristics that many alcoholics share. 

Characteristics of an Alcoholic

For some, their personality changes when they’ve crossed the line from a social drinker to an alcoholic. These changes don’t happen overnight but they become gradually more obvious as the drinking becomes heavier and more frequent. 

Constantly Focusing on Drinking

Once you become physically dependent on alcohol, it’s on your mind constantly. There is an unhealthy obsession with ensuring that there is enough alcohol at the party or becoming impatient when it’s near the end of the workday and you are anticipating your first drink. 

Blaming Others for Problematic Behavior

It is a common alcoholic personality trait to blame others for your drinking and other negative behavior. There seems to be an underlying resentment and the blame is directed towards your partner, your boss, and your family. 

Additionally, if you grew up with an alcoholic parent, it is possible that you might blame your behavior on them. 

Making Excuses to Drink

Making excuses is another characteristic of an alcohol problem. You may excuse your drinking because you had a difficult week at work, or you argued with your spouse. 

There are even more subtle excuses like needing to pair wine with certain foods or not being able to enjoy a sports game without a beer.

Drinking Uncontrollably 

One of the most obvious signs of alcohol abuse is the constant urge to drink. 

Because the tolerance for alcohol consumption also increases over time, you might feel that you need to drink more to get the same effects. It is also common that you feel that you cannot stop drinking once you’ve started. 

It is also common to feel the effects of withdrawal if you’ve stopped drinking. You might experience tremors, seizures, vomiting, and stomach problems. 

Subtle Alcoholic Personality Traits 

Some characteristics are much more obvious in alcoholism than others. These are some of the quieter personality traits that many alcoholics share. 

Sensitivity to Rejection

Alcoholics are more sensitive than the rest of the population. If you are an alcoholic, you may have an amplified fear of rejection. This is usually soothed by a drink or two, reinforcing the addictive behavior. 

In a recent study, rejection has been shown to have an impact on alcoholism. Rejection from a loved one increases the likelihood of alcohol consumption

Low Self-Esteem and Self-Worth 

Low self-esteem is one of the most common signs of alcohol abuse. Alcohol acts as a coping mechanism if you feel that you are feeling empty and unworthy. 

Low self-esteem is usually accompanied by negative thoughts and alcohol provides a temporary distraction from these negative thoughts and feelings.

Financial Struggles

This is a sneaky trait that might go unnoticed because many people experience financial strife in their lives for a variety of reasons. However, it is also usually true for many alcoholics. 

Drinking isn’t cheap – and neither are the repercussions of drinking. Missing work can lead to unemployment, and legal troubles aren’t cheap if you’ve been caught for a DUI. Also, money and time spent at bars can all add up. 

These are all major costs as a result of your drinking habits. Alcohol also makes you more impulsive, leading you to spend your money irresponsibly. 

The Bottom Line on Alcoholic Personality Traits  

Suffering from alcohol use disorder can be challenging for you and those around you. However, knowing and understanding the characteristics of an alcoholic will get you one step closer to recovery. Many alcoholics tend to blame others, make excuses, obsess about drinking, and drink uncontrollably. 

Look for these and more subtle characteristics if you think you might be at risk of alcoholism. 

If you or someone that you love is suffering from alcohol use disorder, don’t hesitate to get help now by getting in touch with our trusted team.