Most people think they have a handle on controlling their consumption of alcoholic beverages yet alcohol related problems are among the most significant public health issues in the United States. Approximately 17 million adults ages 18 and older have an alcohol use disorder (AUD) and 1 in 10 children live in a home with a parent who has a drinking problem.
The subtleness of problem drinking
Often problem drinkers may hardly give it a second thought on how frequently their social life revolves around alcohol or how alcohol has become ubiquitous with all aspects of their life. Being able to realize when your drinking has gone from moderate consumption to over the top problem drinking is not always easy to admit.
Many people struggle with controlling their drinking at some point in their lives and everyone who has battled alcoholism or alcohol abuse has their own story to tell of how it crept into their life. There are many interconnected factors that may lead to its path from genetics, family upbringing, social environment and emotional health. The main thing to remember however it came about, if your drinking is causing problems in your life, you have a drinking problem.
7 signs your drinking is a problem
Abuse of alcohol can ambush you out of nowhere so it is important to know the warning signs in order not to completely let it ruin your life. Here are 7 subtle signs that your consumption of alcohol has turned into a more serious problem:
1. Frequent negligence of family, home, work, or school responsibilities due to your drinking. Examples could be poor performance at work, neglecting or becoming overly angry with your family, or missing out on important social events because you are hung over.
2. Using alcohol to help de-stress or relax. One way many people find themselves on the road to problem drinking is relying on alcohol to soothe themselves or to relieve stress. If you find yourself reaching for a bottle pouring yourself a drink after an argument or when feeling anxious, you may have crossed the line of alcohol abuse.
3. Your alcohol use is causing problems in your relationships but you continue to drink anyway. Going out for a night drinking with friends and coming home drunk, knowing your significant other will be angry but you don’t care.
4. Choosing to drink alcohol in situations where it is physically dangerous to you or others such as driving or operating machinery when intoxicated or mixing alcohol with prescription medication against doctor’s orders.
5. Having been arrested on account of your drinking. Examples could be driving under the influence or for drunk and disorderly conduct.
6. You are continuing to drink even though you know it is harming your health or problems with your marriage. You may realize the damage alcohol abuse is doing to your body or how it is detrimental to your relationship with your spouse but you continue to drink anyway.
7. If anyone mentions they are worried or concerned about the amount you are drinking, you become agitated and upset by their comments. You downplay the negative consequences that have occurred or blame your family for exaggerating the problem or place the blame of your drinking on other people instead of yourself.
The more symptoms you have the more likely your drinking is already a cause for concern. To evaluate the possibility of having a drinking issue, go to RethinkingDrinking.niaaa.nih.gov. for an online assessment of your drinking pattern.
Once you are ready to admit you have a problem with alcohol, you have already taken a huge step in breaking the cycle. Not everyone with a drinking problem can do this as it takes a lot of courage and strength to face alcohol abuse head on.
There are many effective alcohol treatment options available, including rehab programs. Whether you choose to go to rehab, use self-help programs, get therapy, take a self-directed treatment approach, or to go to Alcoholics Anonymous, you will need support from people you can lean on for encouragement, comfort, and guidance. Without support, it is easy to fall back into old patterns when times get tough.
The first step is to start with your primary care physician. They can be a good source for treatment referrals and medications. They also can evaluate your overall health and how risky your drinking pattern is.