It’s easy to base your thought on what an alcoholic looks like based on what you see on TV. If you aren’t homeless, going to jail for a DUI or stealing money to buy booze, you might think you are doing alright.
The truth is that alcoholism comes in many forms. The typical stereotypes aren’t the best way to determine if you have a problem. So, where is that fine line between enjoying some drinks with your closest friends to being a full blown alcoholic? We can help!
Differences between Casual Drinking, Abuse and Alcoholism
Let’s start by saying that there is nothing wrong with enjoying some drinks with your friends. This is a normal part of socialization and a common occurrence at dinner or parties. When drinking occurs in a social setting and only consists of a couple of drinks, it is referred to as casual drinking.
The term alcohol abuse is often confused with the term alcoholism. Despite being used interchangeably, they are different things. Alcoholism is an addiction caused by the psychological and physical compulsion to have more alcohol. On the other hand, alcohol abuse is the pattern of behavior that occurs when a person drinks in excess despite the consequences that they receive.
There are two main types of an excessive drinker. The first is the heavy drinker. He or she drinks more than four beverages a day or a total of more than 14 in the week.
The second is the binge drinker. This is referred to as someone that will consume a large quantity of alcohol at once. For a man, it is often defined by the consumption of five drinks or more within a two-hour time frame. For women, this number is four drinks in the same two hour time frame.
Ten Questions to Ask Yourself to Determine if You are an Alcoholic
Here are ten questions you’ll want to ask yourself if you are concerned that you might be an alcoholic.
- Do I enjoy drinking alone? Is it important for me to be secretive about my drinking?
- Have I lost interest in the activities I once enjoyed?
- Do I regularly crave alcohol?
- Am I often making drinking a priority over my normal responsibilities such as family engagements and employment?
- Do I suffer from withdrawal symptoms while not consuming alcohol? These include anxiety, shaking and sweating.
- Am I battling extreme irritability and mood swings?
- After I drink, do I experience feelings of shame or guilt?
- Do I need a drink first thing in the morning to get my day started?
- Am I drinking despite the consequences to my family, financial well-being and health?
- Have I been unable to control the amount of alcohol I consume? Have previous attempts to quit failed?
Whether you are looking at this list for yourself or a loved one, it’s important to know that you are not alone. These signs indicate that you could be an alcoholic just like thousands of others who have battled this addiction before you.
Drinking heavily or binge drinking every once in a while, is not the indication of alcoholism. While alcohol is an issue for those suffering from alcohol abuse, there isn’t a reason to seek professional help for alcoholism yet. It’s important to note that those who engage in alcohol abuse later go on to become alcoholics, so it could just be early signs of what is to come.
Some signs to be aware of are:
Neglecting Responsibilities – Whether you are struggling to maintain your responsibilities at work, school or home, this could indicate a problem. You might also be neglecting these tasks such as paying attention to your children simply because you are hungover. It doesn’t have to be directly related to being drunk.
Encountering Legal Issues or Taking Unnecessary Risks – The most obvious indication of this is driving while drunk. It could also be mixing your alcohol with prescriptions or drugs. If you put your life at risk, or the lives of others, there is a sign that something isn’t quite right.
Drinking to Relieve Stress – While our culture tells us that having a drink after a long day is normal, this is a danger sign. If you feel the need to drink to cope with an argument or rough day, this could easily turn from alcohol abuse to alcoholism.
Ignoring Relationship Problems – If your drinking upsets you spouse, but you continue to do it anyway, there is a sign of a problem. In addition, if your family fights with you about your drinking, it’s time to pay attention.
Alcoholism and Addiction
Alcoholism is referred to as the physical and mental dependence that some people experience with alcohol. The main indication that you are addicted is if you spend time thinking about your next drink. This obsession is a dangerous aspect of alcoholism.
In addition, you might have tried to cut back and deny these thoughts in the past but probably weren’t successful in your attempts. Relapse is a common occurrence for addicts who try to fight the battle alone.
Alcoholism starts with a tolerance. Since alcohol is a drug, the body becomes subject to the effects it causes. The more you drink, the higher that tolerance becomes. Over time, your body will begin to expect alcohol in its system to cope.
When alcohol isn’t in the body, a person begins to experience withdrawal symptoms. This can be dangerous and even lead to death.
Symptoms of Withdrawal from Alcohol
Symptoms that an alcoholic faces when they attempt to discontinue drinking might include:
- Mood swings
- Distorted thinking
In extreme cases, a person who has undergone serious alcoholism is going to face a deeper level of withdrawal. This is often referred to as delirium tremens. The person will feel agitated, confused and can suffer from hallucinations. They may also come down with a fever or experience seizures.
These symptoms could take hours or days to manifest and they can get worse over time. Remember that withdrawal from alcohol can be dangerous or deadly. Attending a qualified detox programs is essential to help you deal with these symptoms effectively. It is never advised to attempt to deal with abstinence from alcohol on your own.
Contact Clearbrook Today
If you see yourself in this evaluation, there is a chance that you could be an alcoholic and it is time to get help. You don’t have to continue living life with your addiction. Instead, seek out qualified alcohol treatment where you can deal with the issues underlying your addiction as well.
With 45 years of experience in treating alcoholism and chemical dependency, Clearbrook Treatment Centers can provide you with effective treatment solutions. By doing so, we are able to offer our patients a life free from the mental obsession and physical craving of addiction.
If you are ready to change your life, please contact our Admission Specialists today.
Just like those who’ve gone before you, recovery is possible and rewarding. Don’t waste another day; it might be too late.