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Signs You May Have a Drinking Problem
Have you started to wonder whether your drinking has crossed a line? Since there’s no actual defined amount of alcohol consumption and no medical test that tells you when you’ve developed a drinking problem, it can be hard to tell.
Instead, your behavior can provide clues to let you know whether you’ve crossed that line. In many cases, your loved ones, your doctor, or your employer may notice some of the signs of a drinking problem before you do.
The good news is that there’s help for people with a drinking problem. Take a look at some of the warning signs that let you know when it’s time to reach out for help — and keep reading to learn what type of help is available and close at hand.
1. You Drink More Than You Intend to Drink
Maybe you told yourself at the start of the evening that you’d only have a couple of drinks. But somehow, when you reached that limit, you decided to have one more. Just one more. Which was followed by just one more again. And before you know it, you’ve gotten drunk when you intended to stay in control. If this scenario has been playing itself out regularly, it’s a warning sign.
2. You Ignore Your Responsibilities
Being late for work once is probably not something to worry about. But when you arrive late repeatedly — or when you’re too hungover to concentrate on the tasks before you — you have a problem. Think about all the areas of your life where you have responsibilities. Are you getting your kids to school late? Or, is your partner taking the kids to school because you’re unable to get out of bed? Are you missing deadlines at school? Are you making excuses for why you can’t get anything done well or on time? If so, you’re seeing signs of a real problem.
3. You Experience Physical Symptoms
Has the feeling of being hungover become something you’re used to? Do you find yourself irritable and anxious if you’ve gone a while without a drink? Are you physically shaky when it’s time for a drink? Are you having trouble sleeping? Do you experience nausea, headaches or excessive sweating when you haven’t drunk in a while? If you’re experiencing any of these physical symptoms on a regular basis, your body and brain are actually going through withdrawal from alcohol. If you don’t curb your alcohol problem, you’re likely to suffer even greater health problems going forward.
4. You’re Drinking Excessive Amounts of Alcohol
A drink or two a day is rarely anything to be concerned about. But if you’re edging up toward four or five drinks each day, you’ve crossed a line. And those numbers could be even higher as you develop tolerance for alcohol. That occurs when your body gets so used to drinking excessive amounts that you need more and more alcohol to get the same effect. Some people can end up drinking as many as a dozen drinks a day while still not feeling as if they’re drinking that much. Pay attention to the number of drinks you’re having, not to how they make you feel, to see if you’re developing a problem.
5. You’re Spending a Lot of Time Drinking
When you find yourself constantly surrounded by alcohol, there’s a good chance your drinking is happening at the expense of other things in your life. How much time do you spend with a drink in your hand? Now add to that the time you spend purchasing alcohol to drink later or recovering from a heavy night of drinking. The hours can really add up, and each of them is pointing toward a problem that’s getting worse.
6. You’re Prioritizing Drinking Over Relationships
Sure, you love your friends and family, but you’ve got plans with your drinking buddies, so family can wait, right?When you prioritize drinking over relationships, you damage one of the best things life can offer. Think about whether you’re avoiding people — your parents, your partner, your best friends — because you can’t drink with them or because they might say something negative about your drinking. And think about how you’ve disappointed your children. If your drinking is hurting your closest relationships, it’s time to make a change.
7. You Crave Alcohol Most of the Time
Sometimes all you can think about is your next drink. You’re at work, pretending to focus on what your boss is saying — but in your mind, you’re focused on that first drink after you clock out. You have another argument with your partner — and your first thought is how much you need a drink. You might even have something big to celebrate — and instead of enjoying the moment of success, you’re thinking about what you’ll drink to toast yourself. When you find yourself focused on alcohol much of the time and even squirming from the physical craving for a drink, you definitely have a drinking problem.
8. You’ve Done Things Where You Could Have Been Hurt
Maybe that close call on the road had you gasping for breath. Perhaps you woke up next to someone you don’t even know, wondering if you had just gotten pregnant or contracted a sexually transmitted disease? Maybe you jumped into that pool with no idea how deep it was.
If you’ve engaged in any reckless behavior while drinking, you’re looking at a real problem. You’re lucky nothing truly bad has happened yet — but that luck could run out later today.
9. You Spend Time Drinking Alone
Alcohol is famous for its ability to break down barriers between people and act as a social lubricant. But drinking alone is something entirely different. Whether you drink because you’re lonely, you’re bored, or you just don’t have anything else planned, it’s always a warning sign when you find yourself picking up alcohol that you plan to drink on your own.
10. You Drink to Escape
Sometimes life gets hard. That’s true for everyone. But most people don’t have to turn to alcohol to deal with their problems. If you find yourself drinking because real life is just too scary or difficult to deal with, then you’re seeing a sign of a drinking problem. Because the reality is that alcohol isn’t going to do anything to help you deal with the real problems of life — and in the long run, it’s not a very good escape, either.
11. You’ve Had Legal Troubles Because of Your Drinking
Your drinking problem has moved to a new level when it starts to lead you into problems with the law. For many people, this involves driving under the influence. If you’re lucky, you haven’t killed or injured anyone through driving while intoxicated — but you could still lose your license and even your job as a result. If you’ve had any arrests or close calls with the law because of your drinking, the problem is now too serious to ignore.
There’s Help for Your Drinking Problem
If several of these signs have triggered a twinge of familiarity, then it’s time to look for help with your drinking problem. And there’s good news: sobriety is possible and help is readily available to get you there.
At Topsail Addiction Treatment, we’re ready to help you on the journey to recovery. As the premier addiction treatment center in the Boston area, we’re here to meet you where you are. To that end, we offer a wide variety of treatment and rehab options. You can join us five days a week for full-day, partial-hospitalization treatment in Andover. You can opt for intensive outpatient treatment that meets for about 10-12 hours per week. Or you can maintain your work or school responsibilities while seeking weekly outpatient treatments.
Our compassionate clinical staff is ready to help you overcome your drinking problem and to give you the tools you need to live a healthy, purposeful life once again. Contact us today, 24/7, to see how we can help you turn your life around.
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