Did you know that around 6.2 percent of the population has an alcohol disorder? Many ask themselves in the course of drinking, ‘Am I an Alcoholic?’
We’ve written this article as a helpful resource, and we feel its especially needed, since of those people who have a drinking problem, only 6.7 percent have sought treatment or help for their disorder in the past year!
While there are a variety of reasons why so few people seek treatment, one of the most common reasons is that some people don’t fully realize that they have a problem.
The statement “I’m an alcoholic” can be difficult to muster. But once you do, you’ll have taken your first important step on your road to recovery.
But, how exactly do you know if you’re an alcoholic or if you’ve just been partying a little too hard lately?
Check out this guide to learn the top signs that you’re drinking more than you should be.
What is Alcoholism?
There’s a lot of misinformation out there about alcoholism, so let’s start by discussing what exactly the disorder is.
If you suffer from alcoholism, then you suffer from the most serious form of a drinking problem. Those who are alcoholics put drinking above all other obligations, including family, work, and relationships.
In some cases, alcoholics build up a strong physical tolerance, which makes it very hard for them to withdraw from the substance without some adverse effects.
It’s also important to note that alcoholism is different from harmful drinking. While harmful drinking can be detrimental to your health, it’s usually an occasional pattern that doesn’t overtake your entire life.
However, harmful drinking can develop into alcoholism, so it’s still important to be aware.
Warning Signs of Alcoholism
Now that you have an idea of what alcoholism is, let’s take a look at some of the top warning signs that you’re drinking too much.
1. You Drink More Than Planned
Have you noticed lately that when you go out for a drink with friends, it always turns into 5 or more? Or, maybe when you pour yourself a glass of wine at home, you always end up drinking the whole bottle and then some?
While overdrinking happens to all of us from time to time, you need to watch yourself if it’s become a regular pattern for you. Typically, this is an early sign of alcoholism.
2. You Spend A Lot of Time Drinking
When we say a lot of time, we’re not talking about how long you spend nursing a glass of wine.
Instead, we’re talking about how much time drinking takes up your schedule. If you add up the amount of time you spend getting the alcohol, drinking, and recovering from your hangover, you may find that alcohol is eating up a good chunk of your schedule.
For the next few weeks, keep track of how much time drinking eats up in your daily schedule.
3. Your Tolerance Has Increased
If you notice that it takes more and more alcohol to get a buzz going, then there may be a problem.
Unless you see significant changes to your health or weight, your tolerance should remain at about the same level.
If you notice your tolerance has gone up, that’s a sign that your brain has adapted to the alcohol over time and become less sensitive to its effects.
4. You Crave Alcohol
We’ve all dealt with cravings before, but craving alcohol is a whole nother issue.
You may find that there are times you want a drink so badly that you can’t think about anything else.
This urge may be triggered by your environment, certain people, or your emotional state.
If you have a drinking problem, your brain will react differently to these triggers than someone who drinks socially. Basically, your brain will make you believe that you can’t practically go on without a drink in your hand.
5. You’ve Given Up Other Activities
Have you slowly been giving up all of your other hobbies so that you have more time for drinking?
Take some time to think about how you use your free time now as opposed to who you used to use it. Has your drinking edged these activities out of your schedule? Or has your hangover prevented you from doing them?
If so, you may have a problem.
6. You Keep Dropping the Ball
We’ve all had times where we’ve missed a deadline, forgotten about a social commitment, or didn’t give our all at work.
However, if screwing up like this has become a pattern and your drinking has caused you to flake on other responsibilities, then there may be a problem.
7. Relationship Issues
Do you find yourself at a constant tug of war between your loved ones and alcohol?
Has your drinking led to trouble with family and friends? Do you keep drinking despite these troubles?
If you’ve answered yes to any of these, then that’s a definite sign that you’ve been drinking too much.
While having relationship issues doesn’t make you a bad person, it does make getting help all the more urgent. The last thing you want is to do irreparable damage to your relationships because of alcohol.
8. You’ve Experienced Withdrawal
Alcohol alters your brain chemistry. This means that when you drink heavily for a long period of time, your brain starts to adapt to this state of being.
When you suddenly stop drinking, your brain has to readjust, which in turn causes symptoms of withdrawal.
Here are some of the top withdrawal symptoms to watch out for:
- Trouble sleeping
- High blood pressure
- Visual hallucinations
- High fevers
While the symptoms of withdrawal typically improve within 5 days, some people experience prolonged symptoms.
It’s also important to note that if you’ve been drinking heavily for a while, withdrawing from alcohol on your own can be quite dangerous. This is why it’s a good idea to withdraw under the supervision of medical professionals.
9. You’ve Endangered Your Life
When you’re impaired, your brain doesn’t grasp short-term or long-term consequences as well as it does when you’re sober.
This can often lead to poor decisions and putting yourself in risky situations. If you’ve ever driven, fought, swam, or had unsafe sex while under the influence of alcohol, then you may be heading towards dangerous territory.
10. You’re Experiencing Health Problems
When we say health problems, we’re not just talking about a nasty hangover following the day of drinking.
Alcohol can cause major damage to your body. In fact, it can harm your liver, pancreas, heart, brain, and immune systems. It can also cause you to gain weight and increase your risk of getting certain types of cancers.
11. You’ve Found Yourself in Legal Trouble
Have you had run-ins with the law or been arrested while you were intoxicated?
If so, then your alcohol problem may be getting quite serious.
Legal trouble is usually a sign that drinking has become your number one priority, and that you’re fine sacrificing your career and other important responsibilities for alcohol.
12. You Want to Stop But Feel Like You Can’t
If you want to stop drinking but you feel like you can’t, then that’s a red flag.
Oftentimes, people with alcohol disorders actually try to cut down, but find themselves falling right back into their old habits as soon as they have a bad day or are triggered in some sort of way.
If you find that you keep coming back to alcohol no matter how hard you try to avoid it, it’s time to seek help.
What to Do Next
If any of these situations seem familiar to you, then it’s time to seek help.
While seeking help and admitting you have a problem can be very difficult, doing so can save your life.
Talk to a trusted family member or friend, counselor, or medical professional. There are tons of resources out there for those with drinking problems, and getting your life back on track is just one conversation away.
Plus, there are all sorts of ways to make quitting alcohol work with your lifestyle. You could go to counseling, attend meetings, or attend an outpatient or inpatient program.
If you believe that your drinking problem has become quite serious, then attending a treatment program is usually your best bet at getting sober.
With a treatment program, you’ll be surrounded by medical professionals whose goal it is to help you get sober. Medical professionals can also help ensure a safe detox and that you have a supportive environment once you finish up with your treatment.
I’m an Alcoholic: Are You Ready to Take the Next Step?
If you find yourself saying “I’m an alcoholic” after reading this article, then today is the day to seek help.
If you think entering a treatment program is the right choice for you, then get in contact with us today. We can help get you start your journey on the road to sobriety.