How to Tell if Someone Is Hiding a Drinking Problem

Your friend, colleague, partner, or child doesn’t seem quite right. You wonder if drinking is to blame. You have some cause for concern, some lingering suspicions – an empty vodka bottle found in the closet four months ago or liquor missing from the cabinet – but not enough evidence to be sure. How can you tell if someone you care about is hiding a drinking problem? Here are a few clues that might indicate trouble.


Late Night or Mid-Day Garbage Runs

It’s not something a lot of people think about, but alcoholics have to get rid of their empty bottles sometime. Those who are trying to hide their drinking problem will often take out their bottles in the middle of the night or day, when others aren’t there to see them. Also, those with drinking problems are notorious for putting their “clinking” bottle-filled garbage bags into the neighbor’s garbage cans on trash day.


Always Broke

How is it that such-and-so has a good job, but doesn’t have any money? Are you constantly paying for lunch or being asked for small loans for things like gas and food? Although being broke can be a sign of many different problems and alone doesn’t indicate a problem with alcohol, in combination with other hints, it can be a sign.


Losing Important Items

Does the person you care about talk a great deal about losing or regularly misplacing important items like cars, phones, keys, or the shoes that they were wearing? No, don’t worry if your partner loses their sunglasses all the time, but frequently losing or misplacing large or important items or pieces of clothing that were being worn is indicative of a problem.


Late Night Calls

When you’re drunk, you lose impulse control. You often want to talk about those important things that are bothering you, and they usually start bothering you around one or two a.m. If your loved one calls you in non-emergency situations at hours that are inappropriate, that could be a key indication that they are under the influence.


Changes in Behavior

It takes quite a bit of effort for people to change their habits or their way of being. If your once affable long-time companion is suddenly irritable all the time or your co-worker comes in once or twice a week in a disheveled state, this indicates that something is wrong. Again, on its own this is not definitely a sign of substance abuse, but it is an indication that something is amiss.


Things Start Disappearing

Alcohol isn’t cheap. Unless your loved one is very well-to-do, s/he will need money to subsidize their habit. Small, pawn-able items and cash will start to disappear as individuals develop a person with substance use disorderion.


New Friends

Are you starting to hear about a new group of people you’ve never known before? Are most if not all of your loved-one’s old companions suddenly replaced? Are some of these new friends people who frighten you or individuals you won’t hang out with? Are they drinkers? Changing whole groups of friends can indicate a secret life and unsavory habits.


General Suspicion

If you feel like something is wrong, it probably is. Be willing to talk with your friend and offer help. They may or may not be ready to acknowledge what’s going on, but knowing that help is available may be all your loved-one needs to begin the process of healing, and perhaps avoid developing a full-blown addiction.



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