How To Know If Drinking Is A Problem
Alcohol consumption has been common whenever people come together for celebrations such as weddings, birthdays, and usual parties. As a result, many people hardly find any problem with drinking even after the celebrations are over.
For other people, ending the day with several bottles of beer or a few glasses of whisky is like a ritual. They do so to complete their day, get rid of boredom or just cure the drinking urge that builds up over time due to the routine.
Whatever your reason is to go drinking often, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a alcohol abuse. However, this depends on how much you take in a day and if you are a man or woman.
According to the American Medical Establishment, if you are a middle-aged and healthy man you are advised to consume alcohol on a daily basis since it protects you from acquiring heart disease. For such drinking to be beneficial, you must stick to the 4 and 14 rule, which allows 4 beer bottles in a day and only 14 in a week.
This fact does not apply to women, who should consume only 3 bottles and 7 in a week. Instead of helping through being cardio protective, alcohol causes more problems for ladies like increasing breast cancer risks. Therefore, women are advised to stay clear of alcohol. So what really happens to make you conclude that you have a drinking problem?
What Is Alcohol?
Alcohol is a substance that you acquire by fermenting yeast. The fermentation process takes place with the absence of oxygen. It causes some effects to your body depending on your intake since it is a sedative hypnotic drug.
In high doses, alcohol depresses your central nervous system. In low doses, it becomes a stimulant and induces feelings like talkativeness and euphoria, among others. In very high doses, alcohol leads to drowsiness and respiratory depression. In this case, your breathing slows down, becomes shallow and could stop. This explains why some people could go into coma or die after too much alcohol intake.
Alcohol’s Health Effects
Your liver suffers due to various issues after consumption of alcohol in excessive amounts. The issues begin with liver inflammations and proceed to cirrhosis, steatosis, fibrosis and alcoholic hepatitis.
The heart experiences some damage due to extended periods of alcohol consumption. You could suffer from irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, stroke and drooping and stretching of the heart muscle. However, controlled drinking does contrary to harm by protecting you from acquiring coronary heart disease.
Alcohol is a drug, and therefore, alters your brain functionality. The communication pathways get interfered with, resulting in mood and behavior changes. Additionally, you may find it hard to think clearly and move upright.
As you continuously consume large amounts of alcohol, your body becomes more at risk of getting various types of cancers. They include breast, mouth, liver, throat and esophagus.
Your body’s ability to fight or hinder disease depends on your immune system. With much drinking, the immune system weakens, leaving prone to infections and health problems. The majority of the chronic drinkers suffer from pneumonia and tuberculosis at a high rate than sober persons.
Harmful consumption of alcohol is what people refer to as alcohol abuse, and is a drinking problem by definition. It does not need a health professional’s diagnosis to identify this problem because it affects you in the following ways.
Drinking can be a form of having fun; however, if it causes health issues it turns into a problem. Such health concerns can include heart rhythm disturbances, raising blood pressure, excessive weight gain and elevating liver enzymes. As you consume, losing time or blacking out also means your consumption is harmful to you.
- Work Performance
Often you will read the instructions that you should not operate machines when drunk. It is good advice. Additionally, if you do not report to work the next day after drinking, or disappear to go have a drink while you are supposed to be working suggests that you have a drinking problem. In this context, a drinking problem begins if your drinking affects you work.
Many struggle with finances for various reasons. Adding alcohol to the bills list while undergoing financial challenges could mean you have a drinking problem. Moreover, if you drinking alcohol is the main cause of your financial challenges, it is confirmation that you do have a drinking problem.
- The Law
The law limits your behavior while under the influence of any drug, including alcohol. Therefore, if you get into trouble with the law enforcement because you disobeyed the rule means that you could have an alcohol problem. The majority of people with drinking problems get into trouble because of drunken driving.
The reason behind this is you are bound to take risks while under alcohol influence. You could also harm yourself and get legal issues because behaviors like mixing drinks with medication are a threat to your life.
Alcohol tampers with your brain functionality by impairing you or causing judgment issues. As soon as you begin having interpersonal or social conflicts while under the influence of alcohol means you have a drinking issue. Alcohol causes the antisocial behaviors because you are bound to think differently or view things in another perspective that hardly makes sense.
You can also conclude that you have a drinking problem if you still find reason to drink despite that it upsets your spouse or family members.
When under the influence of alcohol, you tend to go into another world that is different from reality. Your decisions hardly make sense or are exaggerated because your thinking is not normal. As a result, responsibilities like going to school, taking care of your children and attending to commitments become affected.
If you experience this, it means that you have a drinking problem. You tend to find that your responsibilities are not important even when they are. You can even failing at fulfilling your duties because you have a hung over due to excessive drinking.
Knowing whether you have a drinking problem can be tricky since the signs may not be obvious to you. Furthermore, the habit develops and grows with time, so it could seem like normal life characteristics to you, despite that it is not. The following are signs that your drinking is a problem.
- You like drinking alone. That is, you value drinking in secrecy and therefore, you often buy to drink in your house or room, and away from others.
- You have lost interest in a number of things that you found fun in the past. It could be things like games, working out and meeting friends.
- You often feel alcohol cravings. Normally, people have cravings for food and non-alcoholic beverages because they taste good. When you have an alcohol problem, you miss the taste and the feeling that alcohol gives you.
- Drinking becomes a priority. Usually people have priorities in connection to matters like family, employment and health. However, with each day that you take alcohol, these priorities could change, whereby, you tend to care about consuming alcohol more than the value you should give to feeding your family and providing food.
- You often experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms like anxiety and sweating. In situations where money becomes a challenge or your environment restricts drinking, your intake may reduce.
Unfortunately, despite it being good for you, you may begin to experience withdrawal symptoms. If this happens, know that you have a serious drinking problem that has actually made you dependent on alcohol.
Other withdrawal symptoms include nightmares, shakiness, depression, fatigue and lack of clear thoughts.
- Aside from the above symptoms, you could have extreme irritability and mood swings. This happens because you actually depend on alcohol to uplift your moods and happiness.
- After drinking, you may start feeling guilty for now specific reason. You tend to be paranoid as well, as you wonder what others think of you, even when they hardly know you drunk the previous day.
- As you continually experience challenges with your finances, family and health, you tend to continue drinking. Usually, you are supposed to stop since alcohol is the root of the problems. Therefore, continuation of the habit indicates that you have an alcohol problem.
- Your inability to stop means that your drinking is quite an issue. It is a clear indication that alcohol controls you, instead of you controlling it.
- With a drinking problem, you tend to lie much about you whereabouts as well as drinking habits. This is a result of the shame that you feel due to your regular drinking patterns and fear of judgment.
- When drinking becomes your only way to feel better or relax, you do have a drinking problem. This dependency is dangerous because it continually grows into an addiction, whereby, you relay on alcohol to function.
- A drinking problem is evident whenever you consume more than you intend to, on a regular basis. This is what leads to financial and family issues, since you overspend on alcohol without caring about the consequences.
- If you experience loss of memory and black outs, you have a drinking problem. The loss of memory means that you consume too much alcohol than your body can handle and therefore, your brain tends to shut down temporarily.
- You tend to neglect personal hygiene whenever you are high on alcohol on a regular basis. Being high makes you think less about cleanliness since your brain’s functionality has been tampered with.
Alcohol Problem Diagnosis
Despite that the above signs could be present, it could still be hard to acknowledge whether you really do have a problem. Therefore, to diagnose, you need to ask yourself these questions in connection to the above signs;
- At times, do you find it difficult to control the amount of alcohol you take, or the length of drinking?
- Have you failed severally while trying to quit or reduce the drinking?
- Have you experienced negative consequence in school, at work or at home because you drink regularly?
- Have you lost a lover, spouse, friend or professional ally due to your drinking habits?
- Are you still excited and able to drink even after suffering the loss of loved ones and having other consequences?
- Have you noted a change in your alcohol tolerance? That is, are you able to consume more alcohol than you did in the past?
- Have you been in dangerous situations because you got drunk?
- Have you been procrastinating, neglecting or putting thinks off to find time to drink?
- Do you often feel the urge to drink, which tends to feel like cravings?
- Have you ever experienced any withdrawal symptoms after staying a while without consuming alcohol?
Conducting this quiz can help you know whether you do have a drinking problem or even help a person know he or she has it. For deeper diagnosis, you can do self-assessment online, or do CAGE, AUDIT or MAST alcohol assessment quiz.
Helping Persons With A Drinking Problem
If you do not have a drinking problem, it would be good to bother yourself with helping persons with the issue. You may end up saving their lives or their families by helping them be better persons.
- Begin by educating yourself on alcoholism and recovery. It is impossible to help another person if you hardly know matters regarding alcohol. With adequate information, you will be able to know how to approach them and how to exactly offer help.
- As you approach them to begin the conversation, begin by letting them know you are a concerned party that cares about them.
- Point out how terrible their drinking problem is by helping them identify the consequences that have risen from the habit.
- Since the conversation between the two of you is very delicate, the last thing you want to do is increase their shame and loose the chance to help. Therefore, avoid name calling, accusing and judging.
- If able, provide them with an environment whereby sobriety is a requirement. This sober environment will significantly reduce the triggers of alcohol consumption.
- Offer guidance on recovery activities. Staying sober can be challenging and often requires motivation through recovery activities. Therefore, introduce them or encourage attendance of meetings, rehabilitation and counseling.
- Since their lives must change. Help them build a new life that has reasons not to consume alcohol.
- Set boundaries on matter regarding the people surrounding them, especially family members. The boundaries are not to punish them but to remind them that family is important.
- Avoid giving people with alcohol problems money. If you must provide, purchase the actual items that they require.
- Help them identify and acknowledge the potential they have. You could also help them utilize it to grow.
Things To Avoid When Helping Persons With Drinking Problems
- As mentioned earlier, persons with drinking problems are ashamed and feel guilty. Therefore, do not be surprised if they are defensive, and do not give up if they reject you.
- Do not use negative attitude when talking to them since it increases their guilt and shame.
- It is not advisable to threaten, bribe or punish persons with drinking issues, since it makes them more defensive and reduces the chances of changing.
- Avoid arguing with such people or discussing important topics when they are under the alcohol influence. All will be in vain.
- Do not join them in their drinking sprees since it will seem as though you are encouraging the behavior.
- If your efforts fail to help, avoid self-blame. At some point it is up to them to make the change since you have done your part.
Overcoming Your Drinking Problem
The severity of your drinking problem highly determines if you will succeed in overcoming the problem. The following tips can be helpful.
- Set a goal for drinking- setting a goal is important because it will mean you are in control of the habit and total control can help you over the problem altogether. Set a daily limit and ensure to keep this promise to yourself. Write the limit and put it where your eyes will often see.
- Keep a diary- reaching your goals is crucial to your course. So its crucial to keep track of your process through a drinking diary. Make an entry every time or day that you drink.
- Avoid temptations- for you to progress, you need to keep temptations at bay. This means that you should avoid keeping alcohol near you, whether at home or in school.
- Drink slowly- the slower you drink the less you are likely to consume. Ensure that in between the drinks, you take about 30 minutes off by consuming other drinks like juice or water. Additionally, ensure that you eat well before alcohol consumption.
- Take breaks- If you are used to drinking 4 days in a weeks, reduce them to two so that you have a break in between. As you progress, make it one day until when you can stay for weeks without consuming.
Living A Sober Lifestyle
For you to live a sober lifestyle, you must focus on changing everything about yourself. This involves finding new reasons to stay sober and executing a plan to never turn back to your old habits.
Whenever time passes without you consuming alcohol, reward yourself to ensure that your brain understand the importance of staying sober.
- Focus on you- maintaining a sober lifestyle is all about you. You need to focus on yourself by do things better. Eat better and take plenty of sleep to overcome the cravings and prevent mood swings.
- Build a support network- this journey of maintaining a new life could be very difficult at times and you will help from other people. Therefore, build a support network that consists of sober and positive persons that appreciate you and make you feel loved. They will help you stay on track and motivate you not to give up.
- New activities and interests- your old life contained habits or interests that lead to your alcohol problems. If you want permanent change, you need new habits and interests that do not drive you towards alcohol. This process includes finding new hobbies and activities.
- Face you problems- whenever you have challenges that might trigger you to drink, face them one at a time and address them with positivity. Do not focus on failing at sorting them out but rather view success in your mind. In the process, you can exercise, practice breathing exercises or meditate.
- Continue treatment- if your drinking problems were severe do not abandon you treatment. Continue to acquire the necessary help through programs because lack of continuation puts your full recovery at jeopardy.
- Avoid drinking triggers- the majority of the drinking triggers are hard to avoid. However, you will do yourself a lot of harm by tolerating. If certain people make you drink, you can avoid them at all costs. Do not pick their calls in the evening because probably they are calling to invite you.
- Say ‘NO’- among the reasons why you developed a drinking problem could be that you were unable to decline free alcohol or say not to invitations. Since you know the outcome of not rejecting offers and also know the value of your sobriety, you must encourage yourself to say no. While doing so, also learn to not feel guilty for letting people down whenever you decline their offers.
In a nutshell, a drinking problem is quite expensive. It leads to destruction and loss that could leave you in bigger issues. So must assess yourself to know if you have the problem, especially if you note that your problems are connected to your alcohol consumption.