Common Characteristics of an Alcoholic

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Millions of Americans struggle with alcoholism. Unfortunately, less than 10 percent receive treatment. Family, friends, and coworkers are often the first to notice you’re in need of alcohol detox in Pasadena.

In order to be able to identify and help a loved one with alcoholism, it’s important to understand what alcoholism is, the signs of alcoholism, and the common characteristics of an alcoholic.

If you or someone you love is struggling with alcoholism, Path to Recovery can help you get your life back. Keep reading to learn more about alcoholism and how our medical detox center in Pasadena, California can help.

What is an Alcoholic?

An alcoholic is someone who cannot control their alcohol use. They are also unable to stop consuming alcohol voluntarily. As a result, an alcoholic is habitually drunk, drinks daily, and drinks more than most. An alcoholic is a person who struggles with alcoholism.

Why do some people become alcoholics and other people don’t? While there isn’t an exact reason, experts believe it is a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors.

What is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism, or alcohol use disorder, is the severest form of alcohol abuse. It involves the inability to control drinking habits. Alcoholism is broken down into three categories, mild, moderate, and severe.

Each category has its own symptoms and harmful side effects. While mild alcoholism doesn’t sound that bad, if left untreated can quickly spiral out of control. It can lead to relationship, career, and health issues that worsen over time.

What are Common Signs of Alcoholism?

characteristics of an alcoholic

Common signs of alcoholism can vary in severity and be seen in various aspects of a person’s life. It’s important to know that not all individuals struggling with alcoholism will exhibit all these signs. Nor does having any of these signs mean a person is an alcoholic.

Common signs of alcoholism include:

  • Increased tolerance
  • Loss of control
  • Failed attempts to quit
  • Spends the majority of days obtaining, consuming, and recovering from alcohol
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Continuing to drink despite the consequences
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Drinking alone or secretly
  • Drinking and driving
  • Interpersonal issues
  • Physical and mental health issues

If you or someone you love shows any of the above signs, it is important to talk to someone and seek help.

What are the Common Characteristics of an Alcoholic?

signs of alcohlism

Common characteristics of an alcoholic can vary from person to person. However, there are several typical signs and behaviors associated with this condition. Common characteristics of an alcoholic include:

  • Cravings
  • Difficulty controlling drinking
  • Increase in tolerance
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms
  • Prioritizing alcohol
  • Losing interest in hobbies and other enjoyable activities
  • Continuing to drink despite the negative consequences
  • Isolation
  • Secrecy
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Trying to stop but failing

If you or someone you love displays these characteristics of an alcoholic, it is crucial to talk to someone and get into treatment.

What are the Key Traits of an Alcoholic?

Alcoholism is a chronic mental health disorder. Without treatment, it progresses from problematic drinking to severe and uncontrollable alcohol abuse.

The term “alcoholic personality” isn’t a clinical term. However, it is often used to explain the traits or characteristics of an alcoholic. The following are key traits to watch for if you suspect a loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse.

Constantly Focusing on Alcohol

A person struggling with alcohol abuse is always focusing on it. When they make plans with friends, it has to be at a bar, they make sure there is plenty of beer and liquor at the party, and they may get upset if the server isn’t fast enough with their cocktail.

If someone suggests an activity without alcohol, a person with an alcoholic personality may immediately say no, make a point that it isn’t a worthwhile activity, or suggest something that involves alcohol.

Blaming Others

A common trait of an alcoholic is blaming everyone else. This is common not only in those abusing alcohol but in all people with a substance abuse disorder. They may insinuate their drinking is the fault of their spouse, boss, kids, or their alcoholic parent.

Makes Frequent Excuses

Making excuses is similar to blaming others because they both place accountability on someone or something else. They may say they had a long day or a hard week to excuse their heavy drinking.

Another excuse may be sports and drinking go together, or chicken wings taste better with a beer. Whether celebrating a friend’s birthday or upset they didn’t get the job they wanted, an alcoholic will always have an excuse to drink.

Uncontrollable Drinking

The further a person progresses through the phases of alcoholism, a noticeable trait of an alcoholic is uncontrollable drinking. Whether you live with an alcoholic or see them out in public, they are typically out of control with their drinking.

A key trait of alcoholism is the inability to stop drinking once a person starts. For example, a person may go to a party intending to have a few drinks. But they end up drinking till they pass out.

Financial Hardships

Money troubles are very common among people with alcoholic personalities. They spend a lot of money on going to bars, happy hour, and buying liquor for home. While the cost of alcohol adds up, money troubles go beyond that.

As the disease of alcoholism progresses, it affects a person’s living and working situations. When drunk, they may spend money on needless items or miss time at work because of a hangover. These can make it challenging to pay bills and support a family.

Shifting Priorities

A shift in priorities is one of the most noticeable traits of an alcoholic and is similar to financial struggles. Alcoholism often leads to neglecting partners, children, or other loved ones.

A person who is dedicated to their work or school might make drinking a priority. People may also stop showing up for people and events, cleaning their homes, or prioritizing personal hygiene.


A key trait of alcoholism is recklessness. As alcoholism progresses, people become more reckless with their behaviors. While a few accidents don’t make a person an alcoholic, chronic recklessness can be a cause for concern.

Examples of recklessness include:

  • Fights
  • Going to work or school drunk
  • Drinking and driving
  • Other dangerous or illegal activities

What are Subtle Alcoholic and Behavioral Personality Traits?

Alcoholism and the characteristics of an alcoholic are different for each person. However, there are some predictable personality characteristics most alcoholics have.

People struggling with alcohol abuse are often sneaky, manipulative, deceptive, and secretive in order to hide their drinking. They may be irritable, anxious, or aggressive when they can’t drink and start going through withdrawals.

Alcoholism often leads to low self-esteem and depression. This can be exacerbated when other parts of a person’s life begin falling apart. While mental health issues can result from alcoholism, drinking can be a way to cope with existing problems.

How to Encourage an Alcoholic to Seek Help

characteristics of an alcohol addict

If someone you love is struggling with an addiction to alcohol, it is often hard to know what to do. You are probably worried about them, especially if you know the negative effects of alcoholism. The good news is you can do a few things to encourage them to seek help.

First off, learn everything you can about alcoholism. This helps you understand what your loved one is struggling with and why they are resisting treatment. It also gives you empathy and allows you to be more supportive when talking about treatment.

If you notice any of the above-mentioned characteristics of an alcoholic in someone you care about, it’s important to encourage them to seek treatment. If the person is receptive to talking about their addiction, make sure to give them space to talk.

Giving a person the space to talk without judgment can make them feel less alone. By making them feel supported, they are more likely to seek help. However, if it feels unsafe to approach someone, it is better to speak to their family instead. In some cases, an intervention is necessary.

Recovering from Alcohol Addiction with Path to Recovery

alcoholic characteristics

Knowing the characteristics of an alcoholic may have you recognizing these traits in someone you love. You may even realize you have some of the same personality traits and are struggling with alcoholism. If so, you have taken the first step to recovery, recognizing there is a problem.

If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to alcohol, it is time to get help. At Path to Recovery, we offer a variety of treatment options to help you achieve lasting recovery. What are you waiting for? Call us today to find out more.

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