Closet drinking, also known as high functioning alcoholism, is a form of alcohol abuse that affects many alcoholics. It refers to a person whose drinking habits are hidden from family and friends, but who still suffers all the ills associated with alcohol addiction. It's estimated that nearly 20 percent of alcoholics are closet drinkers and are able to maintain a "normal" work and family life.
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In this blog post, we will discuss five warning signs to look for when trying to spot a closet drinker. By studying these telltale signs of a closet alcoholic, you may be able to better identify the presence of a closet drinker before it’s too late.
1. Noticeable Increase of Alcoholic Beverage Around the Home
One sign that someone may be a closet drinker is when family members notice and become concerned about their increasing consumption of alcoholic beverages. If a loved one suddenly reports that an individual is drinking more than they used to, it could be an indication that they are attempting to hide their habit and have developed an addiction.
Another sign can be if family members start noticing empty bottles or stashes of alcohol hidden in odd places. Someone who hides their alcohol problem often tries to hide the evidence in unusual places.
If you notice this happening, it’s important to talk to the individual and discuss the option to go to alcohol rehab.
2. Sudden Changes in Social Habits
Closet drinkers tend to isolate themselves from social situations as they feel embarrassed or ashamed of their habit. They may start avoiding activities with friends or family members because they don't want them to see them drinking.
Another telltale sign of clinical-level or excessive drinking is when individuals stay away for long periods of time without explanation.. This might suggest that someone is engaging in closet drinking.
Additionally, there may be periods where an individual will cycle through short bouts of heavy drinking followed by complete abstinence where it appears that they remain sober during those periods.
In this case, it could be evidence that they have found ways to hide their habit and have difficulty controlling their consumption levels.
3. Putting Alcohol in Water Bottles or Refillable Drink Containers
Someone who is trying to hide the fact that they are consuming alcohol may go to great lengths to hide what they are doing. One curious behavior is when people replace clear drinks, like water or soda with vodka or other clear alcoholic drinks.
While doing this once or twice may seem normal, repeated attempts to conceal alcohol can be a sign of closet drinking. It’s important to watch out for this behavior as it may indicate that the individual has become dependent on alcohol and is trying to hide their addiction from family or friends.
4. Excessive Use of Breath Mints
People suffering from this problem will often use breath mints and chewing gum in excess. This is because these products offer temporary relief from the smell emanating from the mouth due to excessive alcohol consumption.
Just because someone smells excessively of mints and gum doesn’t necessarily mean they are closet drinkers, but it is a sign that should not go unnoticed.
Also if you notice someone drinking more than usual and then popping mints or chewing gum repeatedly, this may be evidence of a problem with alcohol abuse that needs to be addressed.
5. Health Complications Related to Alcohol Consumption
Alcoholism can cause a wide range of health issues that may not be visible in the short-term, but become more prominent over time. These complications can include liver damage, hypertension, heart disease, and even depression as a result of intoxication.
Some early warning signs of alcohol abuse may include insomnia, changes in appetite, and dehydration. Alcohol abuse also lowers the immune system which can cause a drinker to get sick more often and take a longer time to heal.
If you notice any of these signs in a loved one, it’s important to talk with them about their drinking habits and look for ways to get them help if necessary. Additionally, regular check-ups with a doctor can help diagnose underlying issues that might be caused by excessive drinking.
By paying attention to the potential warning signs of closet drinking, families can be better equipped to tackle this issue before the situation becomes more severe.