Alcohol is a funny thing. It is completely socially acceptable to throw back a few beers. As a matter of fact, it is accepted almost anywhere you go, from a first date to a family dinner to a football tailgate party. Millions of people drink without a problem. However, it is estimated that everyone in 13 Americans abuse alcohol or suffer from alcoholism. The signs of alcoholism can be difficult to decipher, especially when you are surrounded by people who drink regularly and don’t have an issue with it. Between that and the constant alcohol advertisements, and prevalence of drinking it can be hard to discern whether you need to just take it easy or you are an alcoholic.
Signs of Alcoholism to Look For
There are many signs of alcoholism that indicate that you need to cut alcohol out of your life or seek help to do so. Here are five of the clearest signs it is time to make a change in your life no matter what it takes.
- You need to drink alcohol to get through things. Drinking a beer or having a glass of wine should be a treat. Something you indulge in to unwind or instead of dessert at dinner. However, if you need to have alcohol to get by, that is a different story. For example, if you are invited to an event, is one of the first things you think of alcohol? And, if alcohol won’t be served, are you making a plan to drink beforehand or sneak alcohol in with you? If you feel that you are dependent on alcohol to go certain places or partake in social events, you might be suffering from social anxiety and self-medicating with alcohol, which is a dangerous slippery slope.
- You suffer from withdrawals. First of all, take a moment to think about the last time you didn’t drink. Can’t remember it? That is a problem. When you do stop drinking, how do you feel? It is normal to feel a little thirsty and maybe even have a small headache after a night of overindulgence. However, alcoholics will have withdrawal symptoms that are much more serious. They can include shakes, tremors, vomiting, diarrhea, and even escalate to seizures, hallucinations, and coma. Delirium Tremens is a life-threatening withdrawal scenario directly caused by alcohol that can lead to death and requires immediate medical attention. If you are one of those people who can’t remember the last time you didn’t drink, it is advised that you detox under medical supervision for your safety.
- Your tolerance is going up. If you used to be able to feel good after a beer, but now it takes ten, that is a signal of a problem. As you progress in your alcoholism, your body gets accustomed to functioning with alcohol in it. Your brain, heart, liver, and every part of you take the alcohol and works with it to stay alive. Eventually, you will need more and more alcohol to feel the same effects. At the same time, your body will be suffering from the increased intake of poison. Your liver will start to function worse, your memory will lapse, and every part of your body will suffer.
- You are worried about your behavior, and so are your loved ones. If you are questioning your alcohol use, that is a good indication that you need to calm it down. Especially if you have done things you regret or are out of character when you are drunk. Not being in control is a scary thing, and unfortunately, it happens quite often with heavy alcohol use. Similarly, if loved ones are expressing concern, it is time to start paying attention.
- You are suffering in your personal or professional life because of drinking. In the beginning stages of alcoholism, you may be able to hide your drinking so that most people are unaware it is a problem. However, eventually, your alcoholism will begin to seep into all aspects of your life. Your marriage can fall apart, and you can be fired from work for coming in drunk or hungover. Additionally, you can easily get into trouble with the law.
These are some of the top signs of alcoholism to watch for. However, if you have other areas of concern, chances are they are valid and it is time to get help. The sooner you get help the better, and you will be more likely to be able to live a happy and healthy sober lifestyle.