How do I know if my alcohol use is becoming a problem? This is the question that many drinkers ask themselves. Here are some indicators that you might be entering the danger zone:
- Have you experienced blackouts or periods of short-term memory loss?
- Are you feeling irritable and experiencing mood swings?
- Do you make excuses for drinking like needing to relax after work, dealing with stress, or drinking to feel normal?
- Do you choose to drink instead of taking care of responsibilities or obligations?
- Are you isolating or distancing yourself from friends or family members?
- Do you drink alone or in secret?
- Have you changed the group of people you hang out with to a more “alcohol friendly” crowd?
- Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?
- Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
- Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?
- Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get over a hangover?
Notice, what is not on this list. Loss of job, homelessness, bumming money on the street, being found down, legal problems, DUI’s, loss of driver’s license. These are the things that people typically associate with alcoholism. But these are the extremes. Most people in the United States that are alcoholic or abuse alcohol regularly, are functional alcoholics. We maintain employment, don’t get in trouble with the law, and continue to function in adult society. We think our alcoholism is hidden.
But the truth is, we are wreaking havoc on our lives and the lives of our families. We’re not functioning at our best when we’re hungover at work. Our families suffer in silence and our children live in fear and confusion, wondering when they will see their parent drunk and unpredictable again. We risk harming innocent strangers when we get behind the wheel of a car. Our finances suffer. Our friendships are shallow, and our socializing revolves around drinking. We don’t exercise or take care of our health. As we age, we start to suffer from a host of health issues, including Type 2 diabetes, Hypertension, Heart Disease, and liver and kidney issues.
Take an honest look at yourself. If you’re experiencing these warning signs, reach out for help. It never hurts to have an honest conversation with someone, and it just might save your life.