How To Know You Have A Drinking Problem

How To Know You Might Have A Drinking Problem

Every year, billions of dollars are made through alcohol sales. Alcohol is depicted as being an integral part of every social event imaginable, from clubbing to weddings. It is advertised as being the key to relaxation, and the key to having fun. Alcohol commercials show drinkers as smiling, laughing, and living the best of life.

While the average beer commercial now includes the admonition to “drink responsibly,” there are many Americans who cannot manage to do so. Statistics indicate that over 15 million people struggle with alcohol addiction or dependency during any given year, and only a small percentage of them receive treatment for it. The following are some indications that you are among that population of people who will benefit from a change in perspective when it comes to alcohol use.


You Drink More Than You Intend To

Drinking more than you mean to is one of the first clues that alcohol might be problematic in your life. While many people will occasionally underestimate the effects of a drink on their level of sobriety, repeatedly failing to stay within your limits is a red flag.  There is something about your interaction with alcohol that is impeding your ability to use the stop button.

The very same part of our brain which prompts us to be responsible is the part that is most heavily affected by alcohol intoxication. For some people, that little voice of responsibility is silenced after only a couple of drinks, leading them to throw caution to the wind. If you are one of those people who  can’t stop drinking once starting, you have a problem relationship with alcohol. Continuing to ignore the fact that your stop button doesn’t work is a recipe for disaster.


You Drink To Be Someone Else

Alcohol is often part of a social gathering, but using it as a means to be able to socialize with others is a sign that you are using the intoxicating effects as a crutch. When used in moderation, alcohol can produce a relaxing effect, enabling a person to leave stress behind and enjoy some leisure time. When used to excess, the intoxication can lead us to behave in ways which we wouldn’t dare, otherwise.

Of all of the personality changes observable in someone who is intoxicated, the ability to be outgoing is the most consistent. Alcohol has earned the nickname of “liquid courage” for a reason. Relying on alcohol as a vehicle to speak up, confront problems, or escape social anxiety is indicative of a problem. You are not genuinely learning how to overcome your social limitations, and are relying on a substance to give the appearance of boldness.


You Engage In Risky Behaviors While Intoxicated

Spending time in the drunk tank or getting cited for a DWI are some of the more obvious signs that your drinking has become a problem, but there are many other drunken behaviors which put your life at risk. Every year, up to 18 percent of emergency room visits involve alcohol-related injuries. Physical altercations, daredevil stunts, drownings, and accidental falls are all associated with high levels of intoxication. Alcohol is also present in up to 22 percent of suicide deaths, and in up to 40% of attempts.

Risky sexual behaviors are also prone to increase while intoxicated. Most of us have heard the joke about no one being ugly at two in the morning. By the time the bar closes, our standards for our sexual behavior can be lowered to the point that we will hook up in ways that we would not dream of doing while sober. Factors such as potential for disease, unplanned pregnancy, or regret are all disregarded when the alcohol is driving our libido.


You Experience Guilt About Your Drinking

Guilt is a subjective feeling. What makes one person feel guilty may not bother another person, at all. What guilt does have in common for everyone, though, is that, when it is experienced, it feels awful. If you are experiencing guilt about your drinking behaviors or the effects of your drinking on others, you may have a problem relationship with alcohol. If you keep drinking, in spite of the guilt, you definitely have a problem. Wounding our own conscience through continuing to drink is a fast track to experiencing low self esteem and depression.


You Drink To Get Drunk

While some people accidentally cross the line from sipping a beverage to full-blown intoxication, there are others who know full well what they are getting into. If you are in the stage of purposefully lining up enough alcohol to get wasted, you are definitely in problem zone. Getting drunk is a form of escapism, and repeatedly using this dysfunctional method of escaping reality is a good indicator that there is something about your sober life which you are running from.


Others Say You Have A Drinking Problem

Your life journey belongs to you, but the opinions of friends and family can have a large impact on the quality of that journey. While they may be overly concerned about – or even biased over – your drinking behaviors, their discontent will be overflowing into their interactions with you. There comes a point where ignoring their repeated admonitions to quit drinking means that you are choosing your relationship with alcohol over your relationship with them. Putting that much insistence into asserting your right to drink is enough reason to give pause, and to consider exactly why it is so important that you hold onto the behavior.

The decision to defy the wishes of others that you stop drinking may have roots in a sense of stubbornness or desire to run your life in your own way. It may stem from resentment toward those who are asking you to stop. Or, it may have root in the fact that you are genuinely unable to stop yourself from imbibing on a regular basis. Any – or all – of these issues are better addressed in a therapist’s office than through the bottle.