Are you concerned that you or your partner may be an alcoholic? While it is difficult to pin point the moment that having one too many drinks becomes alcohol dependency, most individuals exhibit the same signs of problems when their behavior is analyzed over time.
Most people are unable to identify alcohol dependency within themselves because of a sense of denial, and it is just as difficult to understand someone else’s behavior and limits to identify where there may be a problem.
If you are asking yourself this question, there is obviously a problem. But when does that problem mean that you should get help? These ten tips can help you to identify if you are a loved one may be suffering from alcoholism, and how to recover from this disease.
Alcoholics often wake up in the morning not remembering what happened the night before. If this happened to you- it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re an alcoholic. If it was the night of your 30th birthday and you overindulged but it doesn’t happen on a regular basis, you’re probably in the clear. But if you regularly go out drinking, and wake up in the morning not remembering events or even how you got home, you have a problem. Black outs regularly occur in people with alcoholism, and this can be dangerous in many ways. People make poor decisions while they are that intoxicated – from driving to being promiscuous to hurting their friends or family members. If you are suffering from black outs, you have a problem.
As we mentioned, if you are trying to diagnose alcoholism in yourself or a loved one, one of the main issues is going to be denial. Most individuals do not believe that they have a problem. Even folks who have gotten in trouble with the law often deny something is wrong, even after some people rack up multiple DUI’s or arrests.
It is hard to understand, as an outside, how these individuals can’t see that there is a problem. And oftentimes, people are being dishonest with themselves, because in their heart, they know that there is a major problem going on. One of the biggest problems with alcoholism is denial, which can include how often you drink, how important alcohol is to you in your life, and how much you drink. Because we live in a world where every achievement, milestone, disappointment, or failure seems to somehow be celebrated or mourned with alcohol, it is easy to confuse when a simple drink has crossed the line into alcoholism.
Loss of Time
People who have dependency on alcohol spend a much greater amount of time on it than people without drinking problems. This is not only the act of drinking itself, but also includes thinking about drinking, looking forward to it, making plans, purchasing it, recovering from the after-effects of alcohol, and dealing with the repercussions of behavior while drinking.
Most alcoholics involve themselves in activities that have alcohol at the core. This could mean hanging out with friends who are heavy drinkers, becoming a ‘regular’ at a local hang out, attending sporting events or other events that focus on drinking. Many people who have an alcohol problem don’t do anything socially that doesn’t involve alcohol in some way, shape or form.
The Inability to Deal with Life
Sadly, many alcoholics drink even when they recognize that it is a problem that is significantly impacting their lives. If you are well aware that you are doing less work at your job, you are ineffective in your personal relationships, or you are having problems keeping your home in order or taking care of your children, you may fall into this category.
While it may sound terrible to an outsider who doesn’t suffer from alcoholism, often there are behaviors and consequences that follow with a terrible feeling of guilt. While for some people without alcohol dependency, this regretful feeling the day after drinking may teach them a lesson so that they don’t do that in the future, people who are dependent on alcohol can’t turn it off that easily.
These individuals often have a hard time managing their personal relationships because of mood swings. Other people wind up with actual health issues but still continue to drink because they are unable to stop it.
Addicts often display significant changes in the personalities and behavior. For example, if you have a friend or family member who is generally the life of the party that begins to withdraw and spend most of their time alone, they may have a problem with addiction. People who are generally professional and timely may show up to work disheveled and late. Alcoholism (and all forms of addiction) can cause people’s behavior to change so that they are acting like a different person.
People who are addicted to alcohol generally have an increase in the level of alcohol they can tolerate before showing signs of being drunk. While every person has a different tolerance level- for one person, one drink can make them feel tipsy, while for another person it might take 4 or 5.
People with alcohol addiction often can drink MUCH more than they used to without showing any signs of intoxication. They need more drinks to feel the same effect, because their body has learned to tolerate it. If you drink much more than you used to because you need more alcohol to feel that buzz, or if you drink twice as much as other people who are your size and show no signs of intoxication, these may be signs of a problem.
Often people who have an alcohol addiction begin to show signs of addiction once the alcohol begins to wear off. Some people begin sweating profusely because their body is craving more alcohol. Some individuals become extremely anxious or jumpy, becoming depressed and irritable. Many alcoholics shake and tremble, especially in their hands. Some experience vomiting, nausea or other stomach and intestinal issues.
Often folks who are suffering from these symptoms will then drink to calm the nerves, or to stop their shakes. This is a definite signal that you have a problem.
Another form of withdrawal is the emotional kind. Sure, it is normal for an individual who just lost a loved one or was fired from their job to want to drink the feelings away. But this problem is for people who are unable to deal with the emotions of daily life who drink to avoid them. This occurs most often when people are sad, depressed, or angry. Often when people are lonely or have recently experienced a loss they overindulge in drinking. They are attempting to avoid really feeling the feelings they are noticing. In the attempt to feel numb, you can often slip over the line into having a serious alcohol problem.
We’ve all had a night of drinking at some point in our lives, where we wake up the next day saying to ourselves or our loved ones, “I’m never drinking again!” While this is not abnormal, because the feelings of a hangover are understandably awful, some people say this on a constant basis. They are regularly telling themselves or loved ones that they promise to quit, at that moment, understanding that their behavior is damaging themselves or their relationships. Often this declaration is after poor behavior and due to a feeling of guilt or disappointment in what they did the night before.
If the person making these promises just makes them but never winds up keeping them, this is the sign of a problem. If they are unable to understand the consequences of their behavior, often losing close personal relationships over their drinking, they wind up putting the alcohol dependency over the needs of their spouses, children, jobs, and so on. They mean well by making the promise and intend on keeping it at the time, but can’t. This is a sign of dependency.
Total Loss of Power
If you tell yourself you’re going out with friends and will have one drink, but wind up having 5, you might have a problem with binge drinking if this occurs on a regular basis. If you are drinking more than you intended to, for longer periods of time, this is a problem. You are lying to yourself and breaking your own problems. Often, this loss of control over your own behavior is a sign of alcoholism.
In a world where everything from celebrations, to business parties, to loss is celebrated by having a drink and making a toast, alcoholism is inevitable for those with a natural tendency towards alcoholism or a lack of motivation to control themselves. Our culture has moved towards one where drinking is a daily habit instead of a special occasion, which makes it hard to know when having a few drinks occasionally has become more of a problem than you realize.
If you or a loved one is having a problem with alcohol, it is important to reach out for help as soon as you are aware there is an issue. The sooner you get help, the better the chances of recovery and not ruining your relationships, personal life, and business life. The toll you are taking on your family is a harsh one that can ruin your life, the impact alcohol can have on your job can cause you to be financially devastated or even be homeless, and the further you spiral out of control; the harder it is to regain a normal life. Quitting on your own when there is a serious alcohol problem is much harder than it sounds. Reach out to someone for help if you notice any of these signs in yourself or a loved one.