Do I Have a Drinking Problem?: 13 Signs the Answer Is Yes
It’s estimated that nearly 6% of American adults have an alcohol problem. While it’s impossible to get the full scope of alcoholics in the United States due to it not having an actual diagnosis, the DSM-5 covers it under “alcohol use disorder”, a subgroup of substance disorders.
If you’ve ever wondered to yourself “do I have a drinking problem?” you might have cause for alarm.
Many adults engage in social and casual drinking without ever having a problem. Small amounts of alcohol may even be healthy for the body. So how do you know if you have the signs of a drinking problem?
I’m here to help. I want to go over some of the signs and symptoms of alcoholism so you can know what to look out for in yourself (or in a loved one if you have your suspicions. Keep reading to learn more.
1. You Find Yourself Constantly “Needing a Drink”
It’s common to hear people say “I need a drink” after a long day at work or a difficult interpersonal situation. This isn’t generally a problem; it’s just a figure of speech and the person in question doesn’t need a drink, they just want to relax.
When you say “I need a drink,” what do you mean? Do you find yourself saying it all the time? Do you follow that urge with a trip to the bar or several drinks at home?
Again, once in a while this is normal behavior that isn’t a cause for concern, but when it becomes habitual, you need to investigate this behavior.
Why are you drinking? Is it to avoid stress, pain, or discomfort? Are you drinking when things are fine, or when things are bad?
If you always give in to that urge of “needing a drink,” you may have a drinking problem.
2. Drinking Interferes with Work or School
Someone with a healthy relationship with alcohol can still function normally at work or school when they’re not drinking. Does this sound like you?
Do you find yourself drinking to the point that your performance the next day at work or school is impacted in a negative way? Worse still, have you ever brought alcohol with you to work or school?
When alcohol puts your personal progress at risk, there’s a problem that needs to be addressed. Don’t let your alcohol addiction impair your life.
3. Drinking Has Negatively Impacted Your Relationships
Many people drink in social situations as a bonding activity or to “let loose” with friends. Again, this is normal drinking behavior.
But do you find yourself withdrawing from friends who don’t drink? Do your friends seem to be withdrawing from you?
Casual drinking days or evenings should bring you closer to your friends and family. A glass or two of wine or one or two mixed drinks among friends is a normal part of many gatherings. If you find that instead, you’re drinking heavily and your friends are moving away from you, there’s a problem.
This is also true if you find that the only thing you do with friends is drink. Are all of your friends’ heavy drinkers? Do you only hang out at bars or parties?
4. You’ve Found Yourself Driving After Drinking
This is a big deal. Driving under the influence is a major problem that can end in damage to property, yourself, or others. How many times have you found yourself drinking and driving when you’re over the legal limit?
If you drink and drive, it can mean several things.
The first is that your judgment is impaired. Everyone knows that being drunk (or even tipsy) while driving is illegal and dangerous. When you drink and drive, you’re choosing to ignore that and put your life and the lives of others at risk. Your judgment may be so impaired that you don’t even realize that you’re too drunk to drive.
It can also mean that you’re an experienced enough drunk driver that you’re confident in your ability to drive this way. This means that you’ve done it before.
You may also be in denial about your level of drunkenness, or resistant to the suggestions of others to take an Uber or a taxi back home.
5. You’ve Experienced Blackouts
If you blackout once or twice and learn your lesson, there’s no real harm. Binge drinking, while dangerous, happens. When it’s a rare occurrence, you most likely don’t have a drinking problem.
If you experience blackouts often enough to know that they’re going to happen and you still continue to drink and reach that blackout state by choice, you have a problem.
Blacking out is dangerous. You can do things that sober and aware you never would have thought of. Making light of the fact that you can’t remember the night before is a sign of a problem.
6. You Ignore Alcohol-Related Health Problems
When you start to feel negative mental or physical health effects from your alcohol use and you continue to partake in excessive drinking, you have a problem. Your health should come before everything else, and in a non-addicted person, it does.
If you’re an addict, the drinks may come first.
You may find yourself experiencing pain, depression, irritability, and an overall feeling of “ill” and still keep drinking.
7. You Find Yourself Drinking More to Feel The Effects
When you drink in excess you begin to develop a tolerance. This means that you need to consume more alcohol to have the same effects as a few glasses of wine would have had when you were new to drinking.
Developing an alcohol tolerance can be a bad sign if you find that instead of drifting away from alcohol for a while (to get the tolerance back down) you drink more and more to get the buzz that you’re looking for.
Your brain may not notice that you’re drinking too much, but your body will still feel the negative health effects whether you notice them or not.
8. You Have Withdrawal Symptoms
What happens when you go a few days without a drink?
Are you irritable? Are you nauseous? Do you have frequent insomnia? These are all early signs of withdrawal, and you likely drink more to take the edge off, right?
This means that you’re feeding the problem. The more you drink, the deeper you get into your alcohol addiction. This means that the withdrawal symptoms will get worse and worse until you break the habit and go sober.
Withdrawal symptoms, when they get serious, range from mild irritation to extreme illness. People may suffer vomiting or even seizures. At this point, you’ll require medical intervention.
9. You Lie About Your Alcohol Consumption
Have you found yourself lying to friends and family members about how much you drink? It’s common for alcoholics to be in denial about their drinking, either to themselves or others (or both).
You don’t want your friends to worry or judge you. You don’t want them to think that you have a problem.
If you’re a functional alcoholic, you may be able to pass yourself off as a casual drinker as it isn’t negatively impacting your life or behavior.
If you lie to your friends and family about drinking, it’s time to take a look at your habits and assess your condition.
10. You Drink Alone (In Excess)
Having a glass of wine with a good book, a favorite game, or a nice dinner is normal when you’re by yourself.
When you’re drinking in excess alone, though, there’s a cause for concern. It shouldn’t be common for you to turn to hard liquor when you’re home alone beyond a glass of whiskey or a nightcap.
If you buy a bottle of vodka on the way home from work to prepare for a heavy night of drinking alone, especially if you do this often, you have a problem. You’re probably also suffering from a mental health problem outside of your alcohol addiction and not addressing the root cause. Instead, you’re slapping a bandage over it.
11. You Ignore Your Limits
When you go out, do you set an alcohol limit for yourself? You go to the bar and tell yourself that you’re only going to have three drinks and they’ll be separated by snacks and glasses of water or soda.
What happens next?
Do you find yourself bypassing that limit, unable to follow your own rules? Do you have a lack of discipline when you’re at the bar or a party?
If you set yourself as a designated driver for your friend group do you often have to give up that role because you drank when you weren’t supposed to?
The average adult understands their limits and knows when it’s time to stop drinking alcohol and switch to water. If this doesn’t sound like you, you might have a drinking problem.
12. You Engage In Risk-Taking Behavior While Drinking
Alcohol lowers your inhibitions, making you more susceptible to making bad choices and engaging in risky behavior that you would otherwise avoid.
You may end up engaging in unsafe sex, dangerous physical activities, walking home through areas that you otherwise recognize as dangerous (such as dark alleyways or streets that are known as “bad”), or swimming while drunk. Alcohol may be involved in between 50% and 70% of drowning deaths.
If you’re actively putting yourself at risk while drinking, you may have a problem.
13. You’re Researching “Do I Have a Drinking Problem?”
So why are you here? What caused you to research whether or not you have a drinking problem or the warning signs of alcoholism?
You know deep down that you should be concerned about your alcohol use and that’s okay. Researching is a good first step towards recovery, and knowing that you have a problem means that it’s early enough to ease into a smooth transition to healing.
When you quit drinking you’re going to find yourself experiencing a healthier life in no time at all. You’ll feel better, you’ll have more motivation, and you’ll lose any weight that alcohol made you gain.
So now that you know that you may be experiencing an alcohol addiction what can you do?
There are many options for alcohol treatment and some are more effective than others. Different people are going to respond in different ways to treatment, so you need to decide what works best for you.
If you’re at the point that you need medical assistance for your condition, that takes first priority. It’s important to have a safe withdrawal period and having a doctor or nurse overseeing you throughout this process can make a big difference.
After this, though, you may want to pursue some more alternative methods of treatment.
Not everyone benefits from things like AA or group therapy. Not everyone has the time or money for residential treatment; it isn’t feasible for the average working person or anyone with a family to take care of.
Instead, it might be more helpful to have an alcohol coaching session alongside a book or program that you can take home with you.
Are you an alcoholic, or are you someone who needs help with your alcohol consumption? You decide how to brand yourself.
I Want to Help You
It’s time for you to start the journey towards healing. If you’re asking yourself “Do I have a drinking problem?” you’re ready to begin.
You don’t need a restrictive and embarrassing anonymous program or residential treatment. You have the power to grow and learn on your own time, and I should know. I did it.
I want to share my methods and story with you. Visit my site to check out my webinar and book a free quit drinking coaching session. Get ready to take your life back.