If you’re reading this post you’ve probably got a burning question on your mind about yourself or someone you care about. Are you an alcoholic?
There are at least 7 signs you have a drinking problem, which I’ll go over in this post.
Not Everyone That Drinks Is An Alcoholic/Addict
Drinking is a social activity that’s generally accepted in most cultures and circles.
In fact, most people can enjoy occasional drinks without any problems. They go to holiday events and dinner parties, enjoy a few glasses of wine or a few beers, and call it a night. They might not drink again until the next event.
Then there’s the rest of us, that develop a dependence on alcohol that can have serious consequences on our careers, family, and our health.
Alcohol becomes a part of our life, something we look forward to on the weekends or at the end of the day.
Eventually, it can consume our lives without us even realizing it, drinking every day, as if that’s our reward for a long day at work. For some people, that can be totally fine – for an addict, that’s part of the progression.
Because it’s so accepted in our society, it can be difficult to recognize the signs that you actually have a drinking problem.
Although alcohol isn’t my drug of choice, the signs are pretty much universal when it comes to any addiction, including alcohol.
Let’s get into the 7 signs that you have a drinking problem now.
1. You Binge Drink
If you get smashed frequently or go on binges, it could be a sign that you have a drinking problem.
The majority of people who have developed an alcohol addiction have been known to binge drink at some point.
Here are some indicators that you’re binge drinking:
- Your sole purpose of drinking is to get drunk, so you mix shots and beers (or other alcohol) to get your “buzz” faster.
- You drink heavily and often, consuming 5 or more drinks in 2 hours, 5 or more times a month.
- You make bad decisions as a result of being under-the-influence, since your inhibitions are lowered.
There are plenty of times that I woke after a night of binge drinking regretting something I said or did the night before. Yes, Jaegermeister (mixed with the drug-of-choice at the time) made me feel confident and charming in the moment, but I woke up feeling like a jackass quite frequently. Not great for my self-confidence.
Binge drinking has become the most widespread form of alcohol abuse in the United States. According to The Recovery Village, 15% of U.S. adults admit to binge drinking within the past month.
Binge drinking and alcohol abuse can also cause some serious health problems over time. Drinking large amounts of alcohol in a single sitting can have both serious and long-term consequences, including alcoholism.
An old friend of mine had destroyed his pancreas with alcohol by the time he was 32. I visited him in the hospital when he had a flare-up once, and asked the doctor about his prognosis.
He said point-blank – “If he continues to drink, he will die.”
Guess what my friend did as soon as he left the hospital? Bought a pint of cheap vodka and got drunk.
Alcoholism is a disease that affects the mind, it’s an addiction that takes over your judgment.
2. You Ignore Other Priorities To Drink
If you have a tendency to ignore things that were once a priority in favor of consuming alcohol, this is another warning sign that you have a drinking problem.
Many times this sign will not be obvious, as many sufferers of alcohol abuse are able to function at a high level.
Here are a few signs that you are ignoring other priorities to drink:
- Not spending as much time with family and friends
- Ignoring your basic personal grooming habits including brushing your teeth and taking a shower
- Slacking off on your job, or taking days off to drink or nurse a hangover
- Spending money on alcohol over paying bills or other financial responsibilities
This was one of biggest signs for me that I had a problem with drugs and alcohol.
My depression and anxiety will also cause me to avoid friends and family or skip the regular grooming habits. However, missing work because of a hangover…yep, I can say that has happened countless times.
If you find that you’re regularly falling short of meeting your responsibilities due to drinking, then it may be time for some self-examination.
3. You Drink Alone
If you drink alone, this is a warning-sign that you are using alcohol to self-medicate.
This behavior is problematic because it trains your brain to rely on alcohol to regulate your emotions. Eventually, you ignore healthier ways to relieve stress or anxiety and turn to alcohol.
The worst part is, there’s no one there to hold you accountable for your actions so the progression of your disease may spiral even faster.
For an addict brain, it’s easy to turn to alcohol or drugs to self-medicate because for us, it actually makes sense to that – it seems logical.
My dear friend once told me (actually she told me several times),
“Angel, whatever your brain tells you to do, Do The Opposite.”
In so many situations her advice would have really helped me, had I listened, because as an addict, my brain is wired differently.
Some experts on alcoholism believe the tendency to self-medicate is the biggest factor separating social drinkers from alcoholics.
4. You Drink First Thing in the Morning
Drinking alcohol first thing in the morning is another self-medicating behavior.
If you’re drinking before breakfast you’re not simply looking to kick the party off early. Instead, you’re most likely fighting off withdrawal symptoms and steadying yourself to face the day ahead of you.
If you’re fighting the shakes or waking up with other withdrawal symptoms from alcohol withdrawal, there’s no doubt that you’ve got a problem with drinking.
If you are drinking just to face the day, that is not healthy thinking, so please consider reaching out for help with getting sober.
5. You’re Depressed, Irritable or Moody
Excessive use of alcohol exacerbates conditions like anxiety, depression, and manic depressive disorder.
We all have ups and downs in life, but if people close to you are pointing out changes in your behavior or your downs are occurring more frequently, this is one of the signs that your drinking is becoming a problem.
The closer you get to the point that you suffer from alcoholism, the worse the symptoms of these disorders can become.
Life is filled with complications and it’s not uncommon to feel down or upset from time to time. However, if your emotions are constantly in a bad place and you’re a drinker, then alcohol is a possible source of the problem.
6. You Have Blackouts
Blackouts are a red-flag that you may have a drinking problem.
Waking up with no memory of what happened the night before is a scary moment. Heavy drinking can cause blackouts and put you in seriously dangerous situations while intoxicated.
It’s definitely not cool to wake up in a stranger’s house with no one in sight, not knowing how you got there or where you are. Then having to find a piece of the stranger’s mail so you have the address in order to get a Lyft ride home.
Again, not good.
If you’re losing chunks of your memory of time spent drinking, it’s definitely time to slow down and take a hard look at your alcohol consumption.
7. You Make Excuses To Drink
Finding reasons or making excuses to drink is common among alcoholics or those with a drinking problem.
Alcohol should not be your reward or your go-to for dealing with a tough day.
Here are some examples of excuses you might use to drink that are unhealthy:
- My spouse really ticked me off, I’m going to go get drunk to blow off some steam.
- I aced that exam today! I’m going to get drunk and celebrate.
- My anxiety is out of control today, I need a few drinks to calm down.
You get the picture. If you’re having thoughts on a regular basis and acting on them, this can be a clear sign that you have a drinking problem.
Drinking is a social activity that’s widely accepted as a way to celebrate and indulge. It’s true that most people can enjoy alcohol without much consequence.
However, some of us will develop habits and addictions that can wreak havoc on our lives.
Does This Sound Like You?
If your life resonates with the signs of problem-drinking above, you may need to really think about whether or not you have a drinking problem.
It’s important that you know that you are not alone.
I’m an addict myself, and I let drugs tear my world apart before I finally got help. The shame and guilt I felt, ruled my life and kept me in active addiction much longer than I wanted to be.
When I finally got real with myself, and opened myself up the idea that, just maybe, someone else understands what I’m going through, it changed my life.
I encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone and ask for help. Talk to someone about what you’re going through and you will be amazed at how many people you can relate to, that understand what you’re going through.
Even if you don’t think a 12-step program is for you, it’s a great place to start. Just show up to a meeting. That’s it.
If nothing else, you’ll realize quickly that other people have been where you’re at, even in worse circumstances, and found a way to change. To find a meeting in your area, click here.
I’m Here For You
You can always send me an email at email@example.com if you need someone to talk to or need more help finding resources in your area. I’ve got your back!
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Until next time, be safe, stay strong and spread the love!