Social Drinking or Substance Abuse? 6 Signs Your Drinking is Getting Out of Hand
Are you questioning whether your drinking has become an issue? If so, know that you are not alone and that many people struggle to answer this question.
Because alcohol is so commonly available and socially accepted, the line between healthy and not is often blurry. It can be hard to know if your so-called “social drinking” has crossed that line into a problem you need to address.
If any of the signs below resonate with you, you may want to consider professional intervention or treatment. Many treatment options are available to those who suffer from substance abuse, such as rehab, support groups, and sober living homes.
If you’re concerned about your alcohol habits, here are six signs that your drinking is getting out of hand.
You are unable to have just one drink
The first sign that you are headed towards substance abuse is if one drink is never enough. People who have a healthy relationship with alcohol can stop after just one. However, those who don’t have a healthy relationship with alcohol find it difficult or impossible to stop drinking once they get started.
The reason? A single glass of beer or wine won’t produce the effects that an alcoholic wants to feel. To feel those same effects, a regular drinker may need twice as much as an occasional drinker.
Over time, the number of drinks needed to feel drunk increases as your tolerance builds. If you’re not careful, this path can lead straight to alcohol addiction and severe health complications.
You downplay (or lie about) your drinking
A hallmark of alcoholism is failing to recognize the severity of the problem. People with unhealthy alcohol relationships often try to rationalize and justify their overconsumption.
But despite their best efforts to convince themselves, alcoholics face a more significant challenge: convincing others. To do so, they downplay how much they drink.
Some people give little acknowledgment to their alcohol use because they fear judgment from others or are embarrassed about how much they’re drinking. Others tell outright lies to avoid intervention, as they know deep down that loved ones would want them to cut back if they knew the truth.
If you find yourself downplaying your habits or lying, you may very well be drinking too much.
You drink to relieve stress
It’s no secret that life is full of stress. Some of the most significant causes of stress include finances, marriage, children, and work.
Everyone differs in how they alleviate stress, and drinking can be stress-relieving in certain situations (for example, having a glass of wine after work).
However, you may be on a dangerous path if you turn to alcohol because you can’t handle stress or anxiety. Alcohol does numb your emotions, but it also lessens your ability to deal with life. A vicious cycle begins, where the person starts to associate relaxation with alcohol use. Over time, alcohol use becomes yet another source of anxiety.
If you’re starting to feel like you need your evening glass of wine rather than want it, you may want to cut back on your drinking.
You’re having trouble with relationships
Alcoholism and successful relationships are incompatible. Even if your partner, children, and family members are unaware of the extent of your drinking, alcohol makes it impossible to nurture relationships the way you should.
For example, being drunk makes it impossible to participate in conversations normally. Long-term alcohol use can also cause gaps in memory, meaning you’ll forget important dates or conversations.
You may also begin to prioritize drinking over family events or special occasions, which can cause friction. And, of course, legal trouble arising from alcohol use can put an even further strain on your relationships.
If you find that your connections with loved ones aren’t what they used to be, alcohol use may be at fault.
You are regularly blacking out
Consuming large amounts of alcohol in a short period can lead to short-term lapses in memory–otherwise known as blackouts. When a person blacks out, they have no recollection of what occurred when they were drunk.
Pop culture makes it easy to think that blackouts are a normal part of drinking, but they’re not. Blackouts can be disorienting and scary, and you may engage in dangerous or illegal activity while blacked out.
If you regularly cannot recall what happened while drinking, it’s a pretty good sign that you have an alcohol addiction or that you’re on your way to a more severe alcohol problem.
You can’t have fun without alcohol
Finally, feeling like you can’t have fun without alcohol is a pretty good indicator that you need help.
Alcoholics are often anxious or on edge if they have to be in a situation without alcohol, and they’ll go to great lengths to be in situations where alcohol is present.
If you lose your temper or feel irritable without a drink, or if you want alcohol to be present in situations where it shouldn’t be, you likely have an alcohol problem.
It’s best to act quickly if you feel your drinking is no longer in your control. Treatment facilities, group therapy, and sober living homes are just a few resources available to those with addiction.
Taking steps to control your drinking today can save your life and relationships down the line.