Having a drink once in a while is something many adults indulge in, whether in a social setting or in the comforts of their own home. It is generally seen as a way to relieve stress, to loosen up or to have some fun. However, consuming alcohol brings with it the risk of developing a more serious condition of dependency or addiction to it.
Alcohol abuse is a bit difficult to pinpoint because it involves a number of lifestyle factors. In general, alcoholism is defined as a strong and uncontrollable desire to take alcohol into one’s system. This means that an individual seeks to have a drink against all odds, even if it means sacrificing time and resources meant for loved ones, work, or the community.
There are instances when a person may have had one drink too many and end up throwing up in the bathroom or causing a brawl in a party. While this may be a cause of concern among family or friends, it may not necessarily be an indication of a full-blown addiction to alcohol. Experts call this situation “harmful drinking” or occasional overuse of alcohol that leads to destructive behavior.
However, harmful drinking may indeed develop into alcohol addiction if it becomes a habit and occurs on a regular basis. It also poses physical risks such as getting injured in a fall or getting into an argument with others. Such behavior is best addressed through the help of professionals. There are organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous that have dedicated themselves to helping those with an alcohol problem overcome their addiction.
The good thing about AA is that their offices are found all across the United States. Proximity to places where alcohol abuse may be rampant is important for organizations such as AA so that they can reach out to individuals in need of help. It is just as easy to look for AA meetings in Surprise, Arizona as it may be in any big city in the US. Alcoholics find it beneficial that they can find a support group wherever they may be, and it also means they have fewer excuses not to attend meetings.
If you or someone you know may be in need of help due to their drinking problem, it is best to seek proper intervention. Even before you approach professionals, there are a number of telltale signs that may indicate you have an alcohol problem. Here are just some of them:
- Making any excuse to get a drink. You would go through great lengths just to escape from work or home to enjoy alcohol, usually at any time of day that you feel you need to. You also justify requiring a drink because you supposedly need to relax or unwind.
- Drinking by yourself or in secret. Instead of freely enjoying a drink out in public or in the open with friends, you increasingly find the need to have your fill surreptitiously—in the car, behind closed doors or in seedy bars where nobody might recognize you.
- Missing out on important family or work matters. You fail to show up at birthday parties or meetings in the office because you have been out to have a drink—or are too drunk. This puts you in grave danger of losing your job or being kicked out of your home.
- Becoming distant from friends and family. Because of the above, loved ones and friends are complaining that they don’t see you often or that you seem to be disconnected from them especially in social settings.
- Experiencing extreme changes in mood. You become violent or irritable especially when you are not able to have a drink when you feel like it. This is a classic sign of withdrawal from being addicted to substances such as alcohol.
- Feeling a nasty hangover even when you are not drinking. This may be another physical symptom of withdrawal along with other signs such as nausea, headache or body aches. Alcohol tolerance or a need for increasing amounts of alcohol to gain satisfaction may also cause these physical manifestations.
- Undergoing blackouts and memory loss. Due to extreme inebriation, you may find yourself waking up in an unfamiliar place and not knowing at all how you got there. You may also be unable to recall the series of events in the past few days or even earlier in the day.
These are just some signs that may indicate you have a serious problem with alcohol. The best thing to do is to seek the help of experts who will be able to guide you on the way to recovery and to address your dependence on substances such as alcohol. It may not be easy but you need to take immediate steps to prevent permanent or long-lasting consequences not only on your physical and mental health but also on your emotional and financial well-being.
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2021). Alcohol Use Disorder. Retrieved from https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-use-disorders
- Mayo Clinic. (2021). Alcohol Use Disorder. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alcohol-use-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20369243
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). Alcohol Use Disorder: A Comparison Between DSM–IV and DSM–5. Retrieved from https://store.samhsa.gov/product/Alcohol-Use-Disorder-A-Comparison-Between-DSM-IV-and-DSM-5/SMA15-4929
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
- National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. (n.d.). Signs and Symptoms. Retrieved from https://www.ncadd.org/about-addiction/signs-and-symptoms
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Alcohol and Public Health: Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ardi/index.html
- HelpGuide. (2021). Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse: Signs, Symptoms, and Help for Drinking Problems. Retrieved from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/addictions/alcoholism-and-alcohol-abuse.htm