There are many people who are able to have a drink or two at a social event, celebration, or special occasion and do not develop a substance use disorder. However, there are also people who, due to genetic and environmental factors, do develop alcohol use disorders or alcoholism. They may not realize that their drinking is becoming problematic and think that they are still in control. But problematic drinking can lead to a host of issues involving health, relationships, finances, career, the law, and much more.
April 11 is National Alcohol Screening Day and a wonderful opportunity to step back and evaluate your drinking habits to see if they have become unhealthy or potentially dangerous. Recognizing that you have a problem is the first step toward getting help and entering recovery.
Signs of Potentially Problematic Drinking
Drinking More or More Often Than Intended
Do you start off by saying you’re just going to have one drink and it turns into four or five? Did you tell yourself you were only going to drink on the weekend, but realize it’s Tuesday night and you’re at the bar? When drinking starts becoming a regular part of your day and you’re unable to stick to the guidelines you set for yourself, it can be indicative of the Signs of Alcoholism.
Having Trouble Stopping Drinking on Your Own
If you’ve ever tried to quit or cut back on drinking on your own but ultimately started again, you may benefit from professional treatment. Oftentimes people think they don’t have a problem because they can stop whenever they want – and they do stop for a few days or weeks – but then always end up drinking again.
Avoiding Activities that Do Not Permit Drinking
Warning Signs of Alcoholism can look like steering clear of events, activities, or venues where drinking is not permitted. You may skip out on your child’s soccer game, opt out of going to a show, or turn down other plans if you know there won’t be alcohol involved. Instead, you may choose to drink on your own elsewhere, or try to sneak in alcohol anyway. Your thoughts may revolve around when, where, or how you’ll have your next drink.
Experiencing Withdrawal Symptoms
When you haven’t had a drink in a while, do you start getting shaky and sweaty? Does it make you feel anxious or nervous? Do you have problems focusing and seem more irritable than usual? These can be signs of alcohol withdrawal. In more serious cases, you may experience fever, hallucinations, or seizures which can be dangerous if not treated by a medical professional.
Drinking Alone or in Secrecy
If you find yourself making excuses so you can go off and have a drink, or you spend more time in isolation drinking alone, these can be signs that drinking is becoming problematic. Consider why you’re hiding your alcohol use – is it because you don’t want others to know how much you drink because you think they’ll be concerned or disapprove? This can be a wake-up call that there is a problem.
Needing More Alcohol to Feel the Desired Effects
After a while, the body builds up a tolerance to alcohol. You may find that you need to drink more in order to feel the same effects. This is not a good thing. Alcohol can be incredibly damaging to your liver as well as your overall health. Too much alcohol can lead to alcohol poisoning, liver failure, cirrhosis of the liver, and impaired decision making.
Drinking Takes Priority
With problematic drinking, the desire or craving for alcohol takes priority. You may brush off other responsibilities or obligations in order to drink. This could come at a high financial cost, but also take a toll on relationships, your job, your family, your health, and much more. Alcohol should not be the central focus of each day.
If you notice that your drinking is becoming problematic, it is time to seek help. Take a free screening and talk to your doctor about the results and your concerns. Or, open up to a family member or friend who can help you get into a reputable alcoholism treatment program like Crossroads. Professional treatment can empower you to overcome challenges, safely manage cravings, develop healthy routines, and embrace recovery. Remember who you wanted to be at Crossroads and make your well-being a priority by engaging in treatment for substance use disorders.