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What to look for: Problematic Alcohol Use

Learn about the thoughts, feelings, behaviours and physical symptoms linked to problematic alcohol use.

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Thoughts add

  • Believe you need alcohol to have fun or relax
  • Believe you’re more interesting or fit in better when you drink
  • Think you should cut down your drinking

Feelings add

  • Get annoyed when people criticize your drinking
  • Feel guilty about your drinking

Behaviours add

  • Use alcohol to escape from your worries or problems
  • Spend a lot of time getting, using or recovering from alcohol
  • Find it hard to control or cut down drinking
  • Have problems with work, school, or relationships because of drinking
  • Increase your use of alcohol – the number of drinks or how often you drink
  • Stop doing activities that were once fun or important to you

Physical Signs add

  • Need to drink more to feel the same effect
  • Have blackouts – not remembering what happened when you’ve had too much to drink
  • Experience health problems, like alcohol poisoning or alcohol is affecting a previous health condition

Not everyone experiences the same set of symptoms or to the same level. A person may be diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder if symptoms continue, are very distressing and interfere in a person’s life.

If you are able to spot these symptoms and take action, it can prevent problems from getting worse.

Concerned about someone else?

It can be difficult to understand why a friend uses alcohol or substances so often. Friends and families are often the first to notice changes and become concerned. For information on how to help a friend, visit Concerned About a Friend’s Alcohol or Substance Use. For information on how to support a young person, visit Supporting a Family Member.

What Next?

If you want to find out if this is something you are experiencing or are looking for tips for safer alcohol use here are a few options.