Key Signs to Know if Your Casual Drinking is Turning Into an Addiction

We are, once again, approaching that time of year when partaking in the festivities allows us to enjoy special food and drink and provides us with a much needed change in routine. However, are we mindful of our activities or do we find ourselves mindlessly ‘following the crowd’? Also, consider the rest of the year, not just the festive times. Are we mindful of our habits and behaviours?

Joel Curtis, a registered Psychologists with Endeavour Wellness has over 17 years of experience. Joel also holds a Masters’ Degree in Psychology and owns a number of private practices in Sydney and provides expert content for several national TV and Radio programmes. Here, Joel looks at the subject of casual drinking and addiction.

Casual drinking is part and parcel of social gatherings, dinner parties or weekends. However, drinking too often – and too much – can cause you to have problems. If you don’t recognise the signs of addiction early on, then it might be too late to stop. One cannot predetermine what their actions and behaviours might cause but your drinking habits are a clear indicator of where you’re heading with your drinking habit.

When it comes to drinking alcohol, there are two types of drinkers; problem drinkers and alcohol dependents, otherwise known as alcoholics. Problem drinkers don’t have a full-grown addiction to alcohol but they are likely to become dependent later on if they start drinking on daily basis.

If you or your loved one has noticed your newly found alcohol dependency then you need to look out for these warning signs for an early and timely intervention.


There are two types of drinkers; problem drinkers and alcohol dependents.


Denial Phase

Alcoholics and problem drinkers deny they have a drinking problem because they can’t see their behaviour patterns objectively. Drinkers don’t discuss frankly how much, and how often, they drink and this denial makes the issue seem less severe and less significant. The denial, to admit they have a problem, is the first sign to find out where you stand in the drinkers’ category.

Drinking to Cool Off

Addicts aim to neglect their emotions for emotional reasons. They drink to ease their negative feelings, whether it’s depression, anxiety, stress or something else. Alcohol isn’t an ultimate solution as it only provides temporary relief. If you notice yourself drinking more than usual whenever you have had a bad day, then it indicates you’re using alcohol as an emotional prop and that you could be moving steadily towards addiction.

Each Plan Entails Alcohol

Weekend bar-going or pub-crawls with friends is fun but notice if all of your plans circle around alcohol. If you start to prefer alcohol over other nonalcoholic/fun activities you once enjoyed, it’s a clear sign that an addiction may be forming. You’ll start to find the things that once pleased you, now mean nothing to you compared to that of alcohol.

Falling Unconscious Frequently

Drinking yourself to blackout, or, to find yourself not able to remember what really happened before, is a clear sign that you’re drinking too much alcohol. When you or someone else notices this, ask yourself, What is causing me to drink this much? Blackouts are not supposed to be fun and are a clear indicator of a serious drinking problem.

Drinking on the Wrong Occasion

If you find yourself drinking at times when you know you shouldn’t drink, like before driving or going to work, or against doctor’s instructions, you definitely have a problem. Your inability to remain without a drink, points towards a drinking problem and a possible addiction. Drinking when you shouldn’t, and putting yourself in harm’s way, is a plain indication of an aggravating alcohol dependency.

Tolerance Towards Alcohol Consumption

The quantity of alcohol your body is able to tolerate says a lot about your alcohol addiction. If you’re drinking a lot more alcohol than you used to, it’s a clear sign that you’ve developed a tolerance and are on your way to becoming an addict! Your body has adapted itself to deal with alcohol better due to the regular exposure to it. If this is the case, you are possibly drinking way too much.

Shirking Your Responsibilities

When you start facing problems at school, at work, or with family by drinking, this has become serious. Alcohol has now clearly taken you over and is impacting your routine functioning. The occasional indulgence, you once had, has turned into a serious subject which needs professional help to break free of.

Withdrawal Phase

Withdrawal and hangover are two separate things. Hangover is a mere feeling of sickness after an occasional heavy drinking session whereas, withdrawal is a reaction to the lack of alcohol. Feeling distressed, tired, and irritable when you haven’t had a drink is more likely the start of the withdrawal phase. Lack of sleep, loss of appetite, shaking, and trembling are also signs of the withdrawal phase.

Relationships Seem to Fall Apart

At the extreme stage of alcoholism, problems possibly appear in relationships. When drinking is causing conflicts with your closest friends, family, or significant other – it’s now time to seek help. This is a pure indication that you have stepped into the alcoholism stage; alcohol has become your only (and supreme) priority. The alcoholism has blurred out the importance of the loved ones in your life.


If you can’t imagine your day without alcohol then you’re already addicted and need to seek help or make lifestyle changes.


However, turning away from alcohol addiction is easier said than done. Having realized that drinking has become a problem, make a decision to turn your life around towards a better future. Don’t be afraid, because admitting that you need help will allow you to regain control of your life again.


If you’re experiencing one of these Endeavour Wellness signs it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re an alcohol dependent or a problem drinker. If you see a large amount of these signs in a loved one or yourself, there is a likelihood your drinking has reached a point of alcoholism. Reach out to your doctor or other medical specialist to get the help you need. It’s not too late!


About the author

Bob Brotchie is a counsellor, mindset consultant and creator of "Conscious Living by Design"™. He writes for Anglia Counselling, is featured on various other websites and introduces us to many guest writers all covering topics related to mental health and wellbeing.

Bob provides bespoke counselling services to individuals and couples in the privacy and comfort of a truly welcoming environment at his Anglia Counselling company office, located near Newmarket in Suffolk, England. Bob also provides professional online counselling, for local, national, and international clients. The therapeutic models offered are bespoke to the client’s needs, especially those in receipt of 'childhood emotional neglect' (CEN), whilst integrating a mindful approach to psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) principles. For clients experiencing trauma and/or phobia, Bob offers EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing).


  1. Sometimes we need to hear a success story when we read a post like this. I hope this one will help.

    Some years ago we had a builder, Mark, come to refit and rebuild our kitchen. We went on holiday expecting to return to a mostly completed job. When we tried to open our front door it refused to open. All sorts of building materials were stacked up inside it. Forcing our way into our own house we found an abandoned building site.

    A week into the job Mark had found the need to befriend several bottles of cheap whisky and had taken to his bed.

    We were too out of pocket to kick him off the site, so persevered. We watched Mark as he spent a whole day reading a leaflet on fitting an under-sink waste. The drawings were the wrong way up. We watched him fit a kitchen unit bizarrely. And we listened to his being short of money.

    I worked out the problem. Mark was a drunk. The bottles he’d surrounded during his lapse were just a week of excess. He was unsober 100% of the time.

    For the six months the three week job took him I paid his van insurance, his mortgage, but never paid him any cash. Mark’s been an adult for years, but we got him to his mother for a month. She had a go at drying him out. He was starting to realise that booze was a problem for him. He hated AA Meetings, though he went, for a while.

    Mark told me that he had got so low he was about to kill himself. He got through that by luck, and then worked out that he had hit rock bottom and could only climb up.

    He’d finished our kitchen work. Under strong supervision his inner craftsman did excellent work. He sold his van. He decided he had to get fit and started using a pushbike. He still went to the pub, but the landlord was under instructions never ever to serve him anything alcoholic, and to prevent his friends from buying him alcohol.

    He had two major relapses. Each cost him a week of his life and three more weeks of work. Mark is self employed. The cost of the whiskey was trivial compared with the loss of income.

    Today, through his own dogged determination, he has been dry since 2008. He is fit as fit can be. He has never bought a new van, he cycles everywhere. How he manages ladders is beyond me!

    He has rebuilt his building business. Once he used to employ a dozen tradesmen. Alcohol killed that. Now he is starting to rebuild a team of tradesmen. He is trusted again and respected again, perhaps more so since he has beaten his demons. He says it’s easy. I think he’s mistaken. It’s been simple. It has never been easy.

    When he screwed up on our kitchen I had two choices. Destroy him or work with him. I chose to work with him, and he fought me a lot of the way. But he produced good work on the kitchen and is, today, proud of it. He does other work for me now. I can trust him to make any job he does for me a job I have no need to worry about.

    A couple of years ago he gave me a surprise phone call. He had almost completed a 200 mile charity bike ride, and wondered if he could drop in on us where we live today.

    I’m deeply impressed with the determination Mark has shown to beat alcohol. He wasn’t aware those years ago that he even had a problem. Today he helps others in his home town to understand that they need to look at their drinking, but without evangelising.

    And that is why I am telling you about Mark here. You need to see a success.

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