The use of alcohol is not only socially acceptable but expected. If you have a hard day at work, you wind down by going home or to a bar and having a beer. Birthdays and anniversaries are celebrated with champagne, and expensive wine is considered to be a staple at fancy dinner parties. People who drink a little too much are thought of as “fun”, and we mock those who refuse to drink at all.
We have normalized alcohol consumption to the point that alcohol abuse is difficult to recognize in ourselves or in others. So while we may think that we’re just always up for having a good time, we may actually be developing alcohol abuse and dependence issues. When we become so used to seeing our neighbour with a beer that we don’t even notice it, they might already be an alcoholic without even realizing it.
What Are The Signs Of Alcohol Abuse?
So if it’s that difficult to even know when you or someone else has a problem, what are you supposed to do? How and when does it eventually become obvious that your alcohol consumption has gone beyond the realm of what is “normal”?
There are some signs of alcohol abuse that you can look out for. Fortunately, some of these can be caught early.
You often drink more than you intended to
If you find yourself frequently uttering the words, “One more can’t hurt”, you may need to take stock of how much alcohol you are consuming. Most people are able to attend a social gathering and limit themselves to one or two drinks. Even those who would usually have a glass of wine at a dinner party find it easy to abstain if they are the designated driver. You may be starting to toe the line of alcohol abuse if you want to say no to that extra beer but find that you just cannot resist, or if hasty arrangements have to be made for an alternate driver.
You drink to recover from a stressful day
There is nothing wrong with kicking back with a glass of wine after a long day, but if this becomes your primary means of dealing with stress, you may be treading in dangerous territory. Not only are you increasing your reliance on alcohol, but the underlying source of your stress is also going unresolved. If you recognize that you are in this situation, you can take immediate action by seeking healthier ways to handle stress, possibly with the help of a therapist.
You end up in dangerous situations when you’ve been drinking
The problem with being drunk is that you are often in denial about being drunk. So you may engage in risky behaviour, either believing that it is safe or not care that it isn’t. A lot of impaired driving incidents happen as a result of someone insisting that they are “fine to drive”. If your job requires you to operate dangerous machinery, you may persist in this after you’ve had a few drinks over lunch. Also, another sign of alcohol abuse is if Friday and Saturday nights are rife with fistfights and unsafe drunk sexual encounters.
You intentionally seek out activities that involve alcohol
Some people are able to maintain their interests if they can find a way to combine these interests with drinking. For example, you may develop a sudden interest in the 19th hole at the golf course, or you may start serving wine at the book club meetings you host. Other people will simply abandon their previous interests. Instead of going walking on the beach, they will stay home so they can drink. They will gradually fade away from the team sport they participated in; their kids may start to have more sleepovers at Grandma’s house. It’s the little things that point to alcohol abuse.
Your health is starting to decline
This happens for two reasons. First, as people increase their consumption of alcohol, they tend to neglect aspects of health and wellness, like nutrition and exercise. And second, the alcohol itself can cause damage to the liver and increase the heart rate and blood pressure. If you drink alcohol regularly, and you have a general sense of feeling run-down, you may need to put a pause on your alcohol consumption.
You tell yourself that you need to stop drinking
Even if you don’t fully recognize that you have a problem, something may make you aware of the extent of your consumption. You may look at the empty bottles in your kitchen and get a shock. Or you may be going over your bank accounts and see a lot of transactions at the liquor outlet. If you are saying to yourself, “Maybe I should cut down on the drinking”, you may need to stop and think about whether that is actually true.
What Are Alcohol Dependence And Alcohol Addiction?
If you are abusing alcohol regularly over a prolonged period of time, you can become dependent on alcohol. This means that you no longer merely enjoy a drink: you actually need it in order to function. If you deprive yourself of it, you start to experience withdrawal symptoms that can be uncomfortable. Once you become addicted, alcohol is no longer just a part of your life. It is your whole life. Once you reach this point, withdrawal can be almost impossible; in some cases, it can be life-threatening.
Common signs of alcohol dependence
Alcohol dependence manifests differently for everyone, but some of the more common signs include the following:
- You need to have a drink as soon as you wake up
- You routinely deal with hangovers by having another drink
- You frequently call in sick to work or school
- You cancel plans with friends at the last minute
- You experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking
Common Signs of Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol addiction affects everyone differently depending on factors like age, state of health, and whether alcohol is consumed with other substances. Common signs of addiction include the following:
- You regularly consume alcohol while at work, or while you are driving
- You disguise your alcohol – for example, by pouring it into a commuter coffee mug
- You use money intended for bills and living expenses to purchase alcohol
- You hide your alcohol consumption from friends and family members
- You continue to use alcohol in spite of deteriorating relationships
- You continue to use alcohol in spite of deteriorating physical or mental health
- You buy alcohol from multiple locations in order to avoid suspicion
- You use alcohol, even when you know it could result in you being in an unsafe situation
Alcohol Addiction Treatment
It is never too soon or too late to get help for alcohol addiction. This can look different for different people: some may need to make some significant lifestyle changes, and perhaps find a local 12-steps program that works for them; others would do better in an inpatient addiction rehab program.
For alcohol addiction treatment to work, it should be customized to the individual, and the goal should be to resolve the issues that lie beneath the addiction. While detox is an important first step – and one that should be done under medical supervision – it is by no means the only step on the path to recovery.
By getting the help you need to overcome your alcohol addiction, you can embark on a path to a healthy, happy and productive life. Here at Addictions CA, we offer personalized treatment plans that are effective in combating alcohol addiction. Call(855) 601-0555 or contact us to discuss getting treatment for alcohol addiction today.