What to Look For

In this section, you can learn about the thoughts, feelings, behaviours and physical symptoms associated with problematic alcohol use. The symptoms listed are ones that emerge early on and there may be other symptoms that develop later.

Click on the boxes in the image below to learn more about the symptoms of problematic alcohol use.

Behaviours: Use alcohol to escape from your worries or problems. Spend a lot of time getting, using or recovering from alcohol. Find it difficult to control or cut down on drinking. Have problems with work, school, relationships etc. because of drinking. Increase your use of alcohol -number of drinks of frequency of drinking. Stop doing activities that were fun or important to you.
Feelings: Get annoyed when people criticize your drinking. Sometimes feel guilty about your drinking.
Physical Signs: Need to drink more to feel the effects. Have blackouts - don't remember what happened.
Thoughts: Believe you need alcohol to have fun or loosen up. Believe you are more interesting or fit in better when you are drinking. Think you should cut down on your drinking.

Not everyone experiences the same set of symptoms or to the same level. A person may be diagnosed with a substance use disorder when symptoms persist, are very distressing and interfere in a person’s life.

Being able to spot these symptoms and taking action can prevent problems from getting worse.

Concerned About a Friend?

Often friends notice changes that may signal an emerging alcohol use problem. For information on how to support a friend, visit Concerned About a Friend's Alcohol or Drug Use?.