It is difficult to determine if your drinking has become a problem when you don’t fit the stereotype of the common alcoholic. Maybe you aren’t homeless, maybe you have a job, and maybe you even have a family you are taking care of. There is no way you could be an alcoholic, right?
Before dismissing this idea, it is important to remember that alcoholism can take on many different shapes and forms. Although you may compare yourself to the stereotype and convince yourself that you are nowhere near a full-blown alcoholic, there is a point when drinks out with friends can develop into an addiction.
Casual Drinking vs. Alcoholism
If you do not have an established a prior problem with alcohol, there is nothing wrong with relaxing from a long week by having a casual drink or two out with friends. Ordering a glass of wine at dinner or a flute of champagne at a party is synonymous with unwinding and having fun. The problem starts when you take drinking up a notch and begin abusing the substance.
Alcohol abuse can be defined as the pattern of behavior where a person drinks in excess, understanding that this may very well lead to negative consequences but continuing to drink heavily in spite of this knowledge. Excessive drinking can be broken into two categories:
• Heavy drinking – For men, heavy drinking can be calculated by having four drinks or more in one day, and having more than fourteen drinks within a week. For women, heavy drinking is three or more drinks in one day and more than seven drinks in one week.
• Binge drinking – For men, binge drinking can be calculated as consuming five or more drinks in the span of two hours. For women, it’s four or more drinks in that same time frame.
Signs of Alcoholism
Partaking in heavy drinking or binge drinking rarely, while still unhealthy for your body, might not be a life-altering problem for you. However, there are certain behaviors which indicate that you may have an ongoing issue with alcohol abuse and possibly be suffering from alcoholism.
One of the major signs of alcohol abuse is if you are continuously neglecting or turning away from responsibilities. This can take many different shapes and varies from person to person. However, if you find yourself caring less about commitments, skipping work or performing at a lower level because you are drunk or hungover, or not paying attention to children or loved ones, these signs of neglect could mean there is a big underlying problem.
Taking unsafe and unnecessary risks, such as driving under the influence of alcohol, and putting your life and the lives of others at risk, is a huge sign that you have a problem. If you have been told by friends or loved ones that your risky and dangerous behavior is worrying to them, it may be time to seek help.
Finally, drinking heavily even after a spouse or loved one have advised you that you should slow down or stop is a huge sign that you have an addiction that requires professional help.
What You Can Do
If you believe your casual drinking has developed into an addiction, treatment is always an option. It is important to learn the facts about alcoholism as a disease, not a lack of willpower or moral failure. Open up to your spouse or family members about your concerns, and do not wait to seek professional help. Contact on-call counselors at Destination Hope today to learn more about treatment programs offered.