Alcohol abuse affects 1 out of 6 people in the United States alone. Whether overindulgence is caused by genetic predispositions, social settings, mental disorders, or life changing events, alcohol abuse is a dangerous habit.
Alcohol abuse doesn’t always lead to alcoholism, although the risk is high. They both present very similar symptoms and involve some form of dependence. Alcoholism, however, has the added physical addiction that makes recovery even more challenging.
How do you know if your social drinking has crossed the line?
Here are 6 symptoms of alcohol abuse to pay close attention to:
1. You are unable to stop drinking.
You know when you should stop drinking, but somehow, you keep consuming one drink after another.
You’ve had many experiences of getting sick from overdrinking, but you still exceed your limits.
2. Any occasion becomes a good reason to drink.
You have become an expert at lining up opportunities to drink. If there are no parties or events giving you the opportunity to have a drink, you will come up with other reasons to justify having a few on your own.
3. A day without alcohol is not a good day.
Looking back, you can’t remember the last day you went without a drink.
Alcohol always makes you feel better, whether you’re stressed, happy, or sad. It becomes your ‘go to’ companion or best friend.
When you don’t drink, you feel physically ill or anxious.
4. You are starting to neglect work or favorite activities.
Your drinking habits are starting to affect your work. You come in late, leave early, or you gladly skip work completely in order to grab a few drinks.
Activities you once really enjoyed and engaged in regularly are becoming secondary in your life — drinking is at the top of your list.
5. Drinking is affecting your social life and your health.
You’ve had a few heated discussions with friends and family members about your drinking, but you don’t see your drinking as a problem.
Your health is being affected by your excessive and regular drinking, but you are unable to make a change.
You experience financial hardship from the amount of money you’ve spent on alcohol, but can’t seem to cut down.
Some of your friends or relatives are starting to distance themselves when you drink too much.
6. Your intake increases.
You need more and more drinks to have the same feel-good sensation.
Your alcohol intake has increased to the point that you’re showing signs of withdrawal when you don’t drink, such as trembling, sweating, nausea, vomiting, or irritability.
If your drinking is negatively impacting your life or relationships, it is safe to assume you are dealing with alcohol abuse.
What to do next
Admitting you have a drinking problem is the most difficult yet crucial step you can take in order to make a positive change.
Try setting limits on your alcohol intake. You can cut down significantly by skipping a day or two or setting a limit on how many drinks you can have.
If you are unable to do so, reach out for help. There’s more helpful information you can read on my addictions counseling page. As someone who has struggled with and healed from addiction, I understand the difficulties. You can call me and I will personally speak with you. You can also check with your doctor or go to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. There are many resources a click or phone call away ready to help you.
No matter the severity of your situation, you will need support. Having people around you to encourage and support you through the ups and downs of the recovery process is essential.
Recognize these symptoms of alcohol abuse. Acknowledge that you have a problem. Seek help and support. Make a change. Get your life back.