Do you know the warning signs that alcohol might be becoming a problem for you? It’s a simple question but surprisingly difficult to answer.
Drinking is common to most cultures and for most of recorded history. It is easier to pinpoint substance abuse for recreational drugs because they are relatively new. However, drinking alcohol has been around for so long that it could almost be called a cultural norm like drinking tea or coffee.
What’s more, effects vary from one form of alcohol to another and from one person to another. According to Hotel California by the Sea, who takes a comprehensive approach to alcohol treatment, “It can be difficult to ascertain when moderate or social drinking has crossed the line to problem drinking.”
A Quick Self-Check Quiz
If you are wondering about your own drinking habits, here are 7 questions you can ask yourself to distinguish between social drinking, which is drinking to be social, and problem drinking, which is drinking to numb out emotional pain:
1. Do you feel guilty or ashamed when you drink?
Is there a part of you that is telling you that you are crossing the line between social drinking and alcohol abuse?
2. Do you minimize to others or lie about how much you have been drinking?
If you lie it’s often because you want to hide when you drink and how much you drink.
3. Do family or friends talk about your drinking?
They may hint that you may be drinking too much or tell you straight out that it’s time to stop drinking? In other words, have other people let you know that they worry about your drinking habits?
4. Do you drink even when you are alone?
Often alcohol is used as a way to be convivial in company, but you might drink when you are alone because you want to relax, unwind, forget about the day, or just feel better.
5. Do you “black out” when you drink?
This doesn’t mean that you pass out but that you can’t remember what you did when you were drinking.
6. Do you find it difficult to just stop after one glass?
While you might intend to just have one glass of wine or beer or one shot of hard liquor, you find that it’s not enough. You often need another and another until you feel some satisfaction.
7. Do you drink more than the average person?
The Washington Post created a percentage chart to answer that question. If you drink a glass of wine every night with dinner, it puts you in the top 30 percent of Americans when it comes to per-capital consumption. You hit 20 percent if you drink two glasses a night. However, this is still a modest amount compared to the top 10 percent. According to the article that accompanied the chart, “The top 10 percent of American drinkers – 24 million adults over age 18 – consume, on average, 74 alcoholic drinks per week. That works out to a little more than four-and-a-half 750 ml bottles of Jack Daniels, 18 bottles of wine, or three 24-can cases of beer. In one week.”
Clear Signs of Problem Drinkers
In many cases, the distinguishing line between social drinking and problem drinking has obviously been crossed.
Here are 3 signs that it’s hard to miss that you’re a problem drinker:
1. You routinely neglect your roles and responsibilities in your life.
At home, you don’t do chores, neglect your family, or don’t keep your promises. Your relationship with your spouse or children is strained. You may also spend more time drinking with your buddies then spending any quality time with your family.
At work, you do the bare minimum to avoid getting fired. You may even show up to work slightly intoxicated or with a hangover.
At school, you have little idea about what is going on in class, don’t do any assignments, and flunk classes.
2. You drink even when it could endanger yourself or others.
Drinking can be dangerous if you drive or if you’re using heavy machinery. In this case, you are not only endangering yourself, but others, too.
It can also be dangerous if you’re mixing alcohol with your prescription drugs despite a clear warning by your doctor about the risk. This could be fatal, resulting in multiple organ failure.
3. You get into trouble with the law.
You get arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct or are given a DUI for failing to pass an alcohol blood test.
Ask For Help
Alcoholism is rarely something that can be solved through will-power or taking some self-help DIY course of action. You usually need help to break the addiction because your cravings tend to override decisions you made when you were in a more reflective mood.
If you’re not sure, talk to your pastor, family doctor, or a psychotherapist. They will then help you figure out if you have a problem with alcohol. Often they can also direct you to the best course of action to take. If you are clear that you have a problem, you can then enroll in a rehab program yourself.