When you are concerned about a parent’s drinking, it may be time to start considering the signs of alcohol addiction. Your parent can deny that there is a problem because it can be difficult to identify when drinking alcohol has crossed the line from moderate drinking into excessive drinking.

Recognizing the common signs that a problem has developed can give you the information you need to move forward and provide your parent the support he or she may need to seek professional treatment.

Physical Signs

Abusing alcohol on a regular basis will result in physical signs that you can see. The physical symptoms and signs that you may notice when you look at your parent include:

  • Weaving or stumbling while walking
  • A strong smell of alcohol, particularly if it occurs regularly
  • Developing health conditions associated with regular drinking, particularly liver disease
  • Withdrawal symptoms occur when your parent attempts to avoid alcohol, such as tremors, nausea and vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Redness across the cheeks and nose

The physical signs can also include unexplained injuries that occur during drunkenness. Keep in mind that some of the physical symptoms can be a sign of other health concerns, such as skin conditions when there is redness on the face, so you may need to look for more than one sign of a problem.

Behavioral Changes

Along with the obvious physical signs of a problem, you may notice that the way that your parent behaves has changed. Regular alcohol abuse can result in changes to the way that an individual acts in public and in private.

The behavioral changes that you may notice in your parent include:

  • Withdrawing from you and other loved ones
  • Drinking alone or trying to hide drinking
  • Hiding alcohol around the house
  • Violent behavior, particularly after drinking
  • Neglecting his or her responsibilities, such as missing work or forgetting to make meals for the family
  • Acting secretive
  • Getting into more arguments
  • Losing interest in hobbies

Changes to behavior can be subtle, particularly when it comes to hiding alcohol or acting in a secretive manner. Watch for withdrawn behavior and neglecting basic responsibilities, since violent behavior is more likely to occur when a loved one is already drinking and may be drunk.

Psychological Changes

Psychological changes vary based on the individual, but there are some common changes that occur when a loved one has developed an addiction to alcohol.
The psychological changes that you may notice include:

  • Changes to personality, particularly sudden changes
  • Mood swings, particularly depression or violence
  • Insomnia
  • Developing a mental health disorder

Regular alcohol abuse can impact the mind. It may result in the development of depression or it can draw out underlying mental health disorders.

When a loved one is abusing alcohol and has developed an addiction, there are signs of a problem. Recognizing those signs and symptoms can help you determine that it is time to seek professional assistance. Alcohol addiction can be treated and your parent can recover with the right tools and treatment program.


  1. http://www.helpguide.org/mental/alcohol_abuse_alcoholism_signs_effects_treatment.htm
  2. http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/alcohol-abuse-and-dependence-symptoms
  3. http://www.ncadd.org/index.php/learn-about-drugs/signs-and-symptoms
  4. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alcoholism/basics/symptoms/con-20020866