Recent studies on alcohol consumption have concluded that to keep your risk of mortality low, you should consume no more than 2 drinks per day or 14 per week. However, thousands of Americans report drinking much more than this per week. Whether it is due to boredom, stress, or habit, this problem is becoming a major concern for the U.S. population. However, the simple fact that someone drinks more than the recommended amount doesn’t necessarily mean that their behavior qualifies as alcohol abuse. To determine this, an individual must personally reflect and reach out for help, if appropriate.
Is Alcohol a Problem for You?
Dr. Samantha Rodman, clinical psychologist and featured writer for Talkspace, recently published an article titled “7 Signs of Alcohol Abuse.” If an individual is uncertain about whether or not alcohol is problematic for them, they can ask themselves these seven questions:
- Does alcohol interfere with your daily life activities? If alcohol is affecting your activity and productivity in life, then it may be a cause for concern. This effect can be measured by two factors: how often your drinking impacts your life and how often your life is impacted by hangovers. This means that if you are drinking daily and finding that you are unable to carry out basic daily tasks like shopping or going to the gym, you may have an issue. Remember that this is not about how often you drink but how much alcohol interferes with your health and well-being.
- Do you experience blackouts or times when you don’t remember things that happen to you? People often try to convince themselves that blacking out from drinking too much at a celebration or party is normal. However, this could not be further from the truth. Blacking out happens when the brain stops recording memories due to high levels of alcohol in the bloodstream. This condition is very uncommon for social drinkers to experience. If blackouts and memory lapses occur on a regular basis due to drinking, it may be a cause for alarm.
- Do you rely on alcohol to relax during social and sexual situations? Finding yourself needing to take the edge off with a drink to get through social engagements or finding that you don’t engage in sexual activity sober can be signs of a deeper issue. People who use alcohol to lower their inhibitions in these types of situations have lost the ability to enjoy social and intimate moments without the use of alcohol. This scenario is usually a sign of other mental health issues like social anxiety and sexual trauma. The alcohol has simply become a coping mechanism to hide these issues from friends and loved ones.
- Do you often do things while drinking that you later feel ashamed about? Along the same lines as blacking out, having embarrassing moments or instances of regret while under the influence can be an indication of abuse. A good example is getting arrested for drinking and driving. While anyone at some time or another can make a mistake of this magnitude, only someone struggling with alcohol abuse will make it two or more times. This is because moderate drinkers learn from the mistakes and misdeeds that they commit while drinking and, as a result, will temper their drinking in the future. Alcoholics, on the other hand, will continue to have problems due to their inability to see the negative effects of their drinking.
- Do others worry about you or comment on your drinking habits? When a problem with alcohol has developed, it is extremely difficult for the person suffering from it to see the damage that it is causing. If friends and family members seem to monitor your intake by making comments about the amount you drink or attempt to limit your consumption, their advice should not be taken lightly.
- Do you have difficulty having fun when alcohol is not around? Are you often hesitant about attending an event if there will be no alcohol served? Do you ever sneak drinks in before meeting people for dinner? Are you the one who always orders a round of drinks to liven things up? Do you find yourself unable to enjoy a night in without going on a beer run? These types of connections between alcohol and fun can be warning signs that your relationship with alcohol has become unhealthy.
- Do you feel like you cannot trust yourself around alcohol? If you ever second guess your ability to control your drinking, then you need to recognize that there is a problem. Moderate drinkers do not turn down invitations for fear that they will drink too much; they have the ability to have one drink as planned and then head home. However, those who suffer from alcohol abuse are often confronted with the reality that once they start drinking, they cannot stop. This often leads to anxiety about actions that may be committed once the drinking has commenced.
If you think that you are struggling with alcohol abuse, it may be time to reach out for help. Starting therapy can provide you with the new beginning you’re looking for.