Hiding bottles. Blacking out. Spending hundreds of dollars at the liquor store each week. If you’re seeing signs like these that indicate a loved one may have an alcohol problem, you might be wondering how to help. You may not even be sure if he or she is an alcoholic or whether it’s simply overindulgence from time to time.
Alcohol addiction isn’t something to take lightly. It can tear families apart and sabotage your financial future. Bringing up your concerns sooner rather than later could save a life.
How can you tell if your loved one is an alcoholic?
Alcoholism is a progressive, deadly disease that affects 15.1 million people in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is the medical name for alcoholism. To be diagnosed with AUD, a person must meet criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The DSM requires that a person must meet two of the following criteria over the past year:
1. Drank more or longer than intended multiple times
2. Wanted to cut down on alcohol more than once, but couldn’t
3. Became sick for an extended period of time as a result of drinking
4. Experienced alcohol cravings
5. Found that drinking interfered with obligations, such as work or childcare
6. Persistently drank despite it causing problems in personal relationships with friends and family
7. Stopped involvement in other activities to consume alcohol instead
8. Placed themselves in danger while under the influence
9. Experienced blackouts or felt depressed and anxious because of drinking
10. Increased the number of drinks consumed to feel the effects
11. Struggled with withdrawal symptoms like shakiness, irritability, trouble sleeping, nausea or sweating
Slurred speech, stumbling while walking and flush skin are other concerning signs to watch for. A person may be diagnosed with mild, moderate or severe AUD depending on how many symptoms they have.
The financial impact of alcoholism
Alcoholism can take a huge toll on your loved one’s mental and physical health. A drinking habit can also burden your finances.
Excessive drinking drains over $249 billion from the U.S. economy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This number includes health care expenses for treating alcoholism, along with workplace productivity losses and legal fees related to drunken car accidents and crimes. The financial impact of alcohol abuse averages to around $807 per person or roughly $2.05 per drink.
Additionally, drinking, especially at a bar or club, is expensive. A study in The Journal of Substance Abuse found that 40 percent of people drink 14 or more drinks per week, which can eat hundreds of dollars out of your budget each month.
While under the influence, people also tend to make poor financial choices. Gambling and excessive shopping can also be common behaviors of alcoholics. If a person is impaired, he or she may lose job opportunities, requiring a spouse to pick up the slack so the family can pay its bills.
If you spot signs of alcohol addiction, get your loved one help now before it impacts his or her health and your family’s finances.