You’re only an alcoholic if you drink a lot, right? Wrong! Alcohol use disorders are far more complex than that. They’re also one of the most common mental, physical and social issues found today. If you’re not sure how much is too much, keep reading. We have all the facts you need.
When Alcohol Crosses the Line
Let’s get real. While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying your booze, alcohol abuse or dependence can do some serious harm. It’s not always easy to tell when you’re crossing that line, either. Everyone has different tolerances, and what you think is just a ‘party hard’ mentality can easily creep into something else. Alcohol misuse can incite risky behaviors, cause mental and physical issues, and emotionally devastate your loved ones. How can you tell when it has become too much, however?
Signs That Your Alcohol use is Becoming a Problem
Habitual misuse of alcohol looks different for us all. Some can drink fairly heavily with no bad side effects. For others, even a few glasses are too much. Remember, signs of alcohol misuse have little to do with the amount you consume, and everything to do with how it affects you and your loved ones. Even many professionals disagree on where the line to ‘alcoholism’ gets crossed! Complicated biological and psychosocial issues are at play when we drink. So if you recognize yourself in the list below, it might be time to take a step back and reevaluate your alcohol usage, even if you aren’t a ‘heavy’ drinker.
Subtle Signs Alcohol is too Important to you:
- You can’t say no: Do you often ‘have one for the road’ that ends up arriving in 16 glasses? Are you easily persuaded to drink more then you want to?
- You spend a lot of time in the hangover zone: Are you losing your life to drinking and recovering?
- You blow off your commitments: Have you skipped work or rearranged an important social obligation to drink? Do you miss family time in favor of heading somewhere with booze? Do you spend most of your time in situations where you can drink just so you can drink?
- You have lied to loved ones about drinking: Do you claim to be at book club and head to the bar? Do you habitually tell people you drink moderately when you know you don’t? Do you hide your drinking from them?
- You know it hurts, and you don’t care: Whether physical or psychological, have you had a very negative experience with alcohol but keep drinking anyway?
- You don’t get the sizzle anymore: Does it take more and more booze to have an effect on you? Are you drinking to ‘escape’ or chasing the high instead of simply enjoying the taste?
- You don’t like questions: Have you flared up at a loved one for asking about your drinking habits?
- You hurt people: From simply being a mean, snappy drunk to outright abuse, drink makes you ugly.
- You make excuses: From ‘I’m sober enough to drive’ to ‘I was tipsy, it’s not my fault’, your drinking should never be an excuse for bad and risky behavior.
These subtle signs are large warning flags that you may be at a tipping point in your alcohol use.
Why it Matters
There’s nothing wrong with kicking back and enjoying a drink. But if you saw signs of yourself on our list above, it’s time for a quick rethink.
We’re all pretty familiar with the typical alcohol PSAs. It can have devastating health effects, like cirrhosis of the liver and even brain damage. It’s a huge contributing factor in many domestic violence, road accidents, and suicide attempts. It can also aggravate other mental issues you may face. Those are scary symptoms!
But most importantly, misuse of alcohol can very quickly become an excuse for you being someone other than the person you want to (and deserve to) be. If you feel the bottle is starting to control you, rather than the other way around, don’t hesitate to reach out and get help. There’s always a way back to healthier drinking habits.