The first step to solving a drinking problem is recognising that you have one. It is not always easy to tell if your drinking has crossed the line. Nevertheless, the fact that you are thinking about it is a good start. Denial is one of the biggest obstacles to getting help for alcohol abuse and alcoholism.
Not all alcohol abusers become full-blown alcoholics, but it is a big risk factor. Sometimes alcoholism develops suddenly in response to a stressful change, such as a breakup, retirement, or loss of a loved one. Other times, it gradually creeps up on you. If you’re a binge drinker or you drink every day, the risks of developing alcoholism are greater. Also, many drinking problems start when people use alcohol to self-soothe and relieve stress.
Other symptoms of alcohol abuse or alcoholism that you should look out for include:
- You regularly drink when you are alone
- Other people are worried about your drinking habits
- You are having blackouts
- Worrying about when you’ll be able to have your next drink
- Lying about how much or how often you drink
- Relationships with friends or family are being affected by your drinking
- You tried to stop drinking or to drink less and found that you can’t
- You get in trouble when drinking.
- Regularly drinking more than you intended to.
- Feel guilty or ashamed about your drinking.
- Neglecting your responsibilities at home, work, or school because of your drinking.
The most severe form of problem drinking, alcoholism involves all the symptoms of alcohol abuse, but it also involves physical dependence on alcohol.
The early major warning sign of alcoholism is having to drink a lot more than you used to in order to feel the same effect. This means that your organism is developing tolerance to alcohol.
The second huge red flag is having to drink to relieve withdrawal symptoms, such as trembling, sweating, nausea or vomiting. This means that your body depends on the alcohol to function.
If you’re ready to admit you have a drinking problem, you’ve already taken the first step. Reaching out for support is the second step. Whether you choose to go to rehab, rely on self-help programs, or get therapy, recovering from alcohol addiction is much easier when you have people you can lean on. Your continued recovery depends on continuing mental health treatment, learning healthier coping strategies, and making better decisions when dealing with life’s challenges.