To get an honest answer to “Do I drink too much alcohol?” individuals must be willing to take an honest look at their circumstances and then make any needed changes. Binge drinking or excessive drinking can quickly escalate into the disease known as alcoholism.
If you think you have a drinking problem or are concerned that a loved one or friend may be an alcoholic, continue reading the details below. You will find the resources you need to assess the situation, and you can obtain the support you need to make a difference in a life.
Consequences of Drinking Too Much
The dividing line between social drinking and outright dependence can be tricky. The average woman can have up to one drink per day without severe, long-term social or health risks. The average man can have up to two drinks per day.
A single drink is defined as any one of the following:
- One 12-ounce bottle of beer
- One 12-ounce wine cooler
- Eight ounces of malt liquor
- One 5-ounce glass of wine
- One and a half ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits
When a person is able to drink reasonable quantities of alcohol without any desire to become intoxicated or to consume larger amounts, that person’s answer to “Do I drink too much alcohol?” is most likely negative, and rightfully so. On the other hand, over drinking or showing signs of some of the issues listed below should be cause for concern.
Drinking large quantities of alcohol during a short period of time, binge drinking, or drinking excessively on a regular basis can bring about severe health consequences. Overdosing on alcohol can lead to:
- Unintentional falls or burns.
- Accidents, including motor vehicle accidents, accidental shootings, and drowning.
- Unprotected or risky sex.
- Pregnancy and pregnancy-related disorders, including miscarriages.
- Liver disease.
- Cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, and colon.
- Cardiovascular and neurological problems.
- Unconsciousness, coma, or death.
Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to a number of social problems as well. These consequences include:
- Domestic violence.
- Child abuse and neglect.
- Sexual assault.
- Family issues.
- Financial problems.
- Criminal or civil legal problems.
Acknowledging the Problem
Understanding the consequences of alcoholism is not always enough for someone to acknowledge a drinking problem. If you are asking yourself, “Am I an alcoholic?” or “Do I have a drinking problem?” take the following steps to find out the answer.
- Listen to your friends and family
- Consider your current actions
- Look toward the future
- Take an alcoholism screening quiz
- Seek treatment
Listen to Your Friends and Family
Family and friends are often the first people to recognize an alcohol problem in a loved one because they see the behaviors and the aftermath day after day. Their early warnings should not be dismissed.
“Nearly everyone who develops an alcohol addiction enters a period of denial.”
Nearly everyone who develops an alcohol addiction enters a period of denial. Friends, family members, coworkers, and community members gently confront suspected alcoholics to ask if there is a problem, but the alcoholic does not want to acknowledge that anything is wrong.
When you ask, “Do I drink too much alcohol?” think about your behaviors and the reactions of your loved ones. Do any of these statements describe your current situation?
- People need to stop telling me what to do. How much I drink, when I drink, or who my drinking buddies are is none of their business.
- They don’t understand how much better a few drinks makes everything. I’m drinking for them. I feel better, and alcohol makes life seem happier. It’s not my fault that my drinking just ends up making things worse.
- I would love to be like Uncle Joe and stop drinking whenever I want. He can have a single beer and still be okay. I envy him and anyone else who can drink without causing more issues.
If your loved ones believe you have an alcohol dependency problem, you should meet with a doctor to discuss the possibility. They can help take all the conflicting thoughts in a person’s head and direct them toward positive goals and sobriety.
Consider Your Current Actions
“Each year 88,000 Americans die from excessive alcohol abuse, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
In some cases, honest words from trusted individuals are enough to encourage someone to seek rehabilitation. In other situations, the alcoholic will not be able to face facts until they have taken some time to assess the situation.
Keeping a journal is a realistic way to avoid denial. Potential alcohol abusers can look at patterns of when they drink, how much they drink, and how they feel before and after a night on the town. Do you really stop when you think you do? When you are drunk, do you act the same way you would sober? Diaries lasting three weeks or longer can yield substantial surprises that guide a person toward treatment.
These types of diaries can also help medical professionals diagnose and treat alcoholism. They reveal truths that alcoholics may not want to disclose or may not remember. We can help you find a qualified professional who can start a case review.
Warning Signs of Alcoholism
By staying honest, a person can accurately assess whether they have a problem with alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence. For example, here are some of the warning signs of alcoholism:
- Have you missed days of work or school because of drinking? This statement includes calling in sick because of a hangover or forgetting about a meeting or event due to intoxication. Excessive absences, shirking responsibilities, and dismissing accountability can all be symptoms of a substance abuse problem.
- Have you ever decided to stop drinking for a week or so, but only lasted for a couple of days? At a certain point drinking alcohol stops being a choice and starts being a medical necessity to avoid withdrawal. People who are unable to avoid beer, wine, or spirits for an extended period likely have an addiction that requires professional assistance. Loss of control, including an inability to stop drinking after a single beverage, is just one of the symptoms that define alcoholism.
- Do you experience withdrawal symptoms if you do not have a drink? Alcoholism is connected with an intense craving. Unless that craving is fulfilled, withdrawal symptoms can start within as little as five hours after the last drink. Symptoms commonly include nervousness, depression, irritability, fatigue, mood swings, headaches, insomnia, sweating, rapid heartbeat, tremors, confusion, or hallucinations.
- Have you had to have an eye-opener upon awakening during the past year? Alcoholics frequently feel they must drink to steady their nerves, to get rid of a hangover, or even just to start the day. Heavy drinkers often get into a routine and become anxious or angry when that routine is disrupted. Alcohol makes the person feel normal, and this feeling evolves into the only true pleasure of life.
- Do you ever try to get “extra” drinks at a party because you do not get enough? Drinking before an event or party is the alcoholic’s way of coping with a stressful situation. They will take action if they know they will be attending an event where alcohol will not be served or where alcohol will not be distributed in satisfying quantities. Alcoholics may display behaviors such as bringing a flask of booze to a party, hiding liquor around the house or workplace, drinking in secret, or going from party to party with the sole intention of drinking more alcohol. Part of an alcohol addiction is the increasing need for more and more of a particular substance in order to experience the same buzz or high.
- Do you have “blackouts”? Blackouts occur when a person cannot remember whole periods of time. Some alcoholics lose track of a few minutes or hours, while others lose whole days. These lapses indicate a problem in the brain, but they can also be part of a larger social problem. People who experience blackouts may end up hurting themselves or others, physically or emotionally, without any recollection of the event. Repeated blackouts are a sign that your answer to “Do I drink too much alcohol?” should be “Yes.”
Look Toward the Future
Admitting a problem may be the first step to recovery, but most alcoholics can only achieve sobriety when they continue to learn from the past and look toward the future. Alcoholics often tell people that they can stop drinking at any time, but then they continue to get drunk and repeat the same devastating actions.
Take an Alcoholism Screening Quiz
The only sure way to discover the answer to “Do I drink too much alcohol?” is to take an alcoholism health assessment. These surveys can range from four questions to 20 or more, but the key to getting proper results from any of them is to answer honestly. The following list includes common survey instruments that may be presented to patients:
- Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test
- Teen-Addiction Severity Index
- Severity of Alcohol Dependence Questionnaire
- Personal Drinking Questionnaire
Alcohol dependence questionnaires are often free or inexpensive. They are offered online, through physicians, through community health centers, and through private rehabilitation clinics. Respondents discuss their results with a trained professional to determine the scope and consequences of any possible addiction.
Diagnosing a Problem with Alcohol
Routine doctor visits, or even occasional hospital visits, are rarely enough to diagnose alcohol abuse disorders. Anyone struggling with an addiction should speak with a trained professional to determine the extent of the illness and find out about the available treatment options.
Because denial is a frequent characteristic of alcohol abuse and alcoholism, you may not feel like you need treatment. You may not be able to give an honest answer to the question: “Do I drink too much alcohol?” You might not recognize how much you drink or how many problems in your life are related to alcohol use. Listen to family members, friends, or co-workers when they ask you to examine your drinking habits or to seek help.
Entering an Alcohol Treatment Program
Treatment is about helping people struggling with alcohol dependence. When a patient has the willpower and is ready to cooperate in order to break the grip of alcoholism, recovery treatment has a high likelihood of success.
Because recovery is based on individual needs, a person’s treatment plan may include treatment at inpatient facilities, outpatient services, or a combination of approaches. Options include residential treatment facilities, sober houses, follow-up counseling, and 12-step support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. Prescription medicines can help alleviate the withdrawal symptoms, while one-on-one and group counseling focus on the psychological effects. Patients learn how to avoid past triggers, cope with environments that cannot be changed, and establish a sober social network.
Treatment facilities provide medical attention, counseling, and support services that are intended to help the struggling addict build a better life one day at a time. Alcohol dependence cannot be cured, but a combination of medicine, therapy, and peer support can reduce the chances of relapse.