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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The symptoms here are ones that show up early on. Other symptoms may develop later. It is important to understand the effects and risks associated with alcohol use so you can make an informed decision and prevent alcohol from becoming a problem in your life.



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.