Health: How Do You Know If You’re an Alcoholic?

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If you’re reading this because you suspect you have an alcohol problem, then you’re at the right place.

Here’s everything you need to know.

What is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism, also known as alcohol dependence or alcohol use disorder, is the inability to stop drinking on a regular basis or being unable to drink a normal amount of alcohol at said occasion.

In other words, an addiction to alcohol.

According to a study, one out of eight adults suffer from alcoholism.

And while this addiction can certainly be fatal as an average of six people die of alcohol poisoning every day, the more troublesome statistics show that more than 15 million people have alcohol-related problems, yet only 6% of those actually seek treatment.

If you’re reading this and you think you may be an alcoholic, be brave enough to be part of the 6% that seek treatment.

A few things to think about when gauging whether you have an alcohol problem or not, but this will require you to be brutally honest with yourself in order to realize the truth:

How Often Do You Need Alcohol?

‘Needing’ may seem like a strong word or a gross exaggeration to describe something like a relationship with alcohol but I assure you, it’s definitely used appropriately.

If you identify with not feeling right or yourself when going an x amount of time (usually a day or two) without alcohol, there should already be alarm bells going off in your head.

This translates to a need of alcohol to feel normal or functional or better than you usually do.

Another way to look at it is if you are looking forward to a drink after work every single day, as a stress reliever, then this is also essentially alcohol dependence.

Do you generally not care whether you drink alone or at odd times during the day?

Do you look for any and every excuse to have a drink?

How Much Do You Drink?

When in the situation, which is probably often, where you’re out for a drink, do you find yourself drinking more than your friends or most of the people around you?

More than four drinks are usually considered a lot, with two drinks being considered an average amount per day for the occasional drinker.

Where do fall in that spectrum?

If you’re thinking ‘but I need more drinks to feel buzzed than most people do’ then you’ve already built up resistance to alcohol, another tell-tale sign of alcohol dependence.

People often joke about the friends that are lightweights when it comes to drinking but have you considered that perhaps that’s not the case? Perhaps you are much more resistant to the effects of alcohol?

How’s the Rest of Your Life Looking?

If you’re still here and you’ve been nodding along more than not when you read these questions then it’s time to take a serious look at the rest of your life.

Are you happy?

How are you doing at work?

Is there a relationship that’s driving you up the walls?

Do you have trouble committing to appointments, events or even people?

Do you get in trouble with the law or at work for things that seem out of character when you think back on it?

And how’s your mental state? Do you feel content or otherwise trouble-free or do you feel like you’re going to go mad when you have to really face what’s troubling you?

If you’re a regular (and by regular I mean the general type of) alcoholic then there’s a good chance you probably feel like your life is falling apart around you or at very least it feels like it’s about to.

The downward spiral is a very real, very dangerous cycle when it comes to any addiction. Something triggers the dependency, the dependency makes everything else in your life seem less important, so everything else deteriorates – your friendships, relationships, your job, your health and often even your hygiene.

That of course, fuels the need to drink and on and on it goes.

This, as I mentioned, is in the case of an alcoholic, but there is a different breed of alcoholic called the functioning alcoholic.

Could You Be a Functioning Alcoholic?

Contrary to the picture painted above, a functioning alcoholic’s life is not a mess, well not immediately anyway although that can happen in a split second if you don’t get help immediately.

In fact, many functioning alcoholics have important jobs and big houses, but if that’s a bit too stereotypical for your liking here are some more specific signs you could be a functioning alcoholic:

  • You would drink instead of eating.
  • You wake up without a hangover even after you’ve had a substantial amount of drinks.
  • You only feel functional or clear when you get some alcohol in your system.
  • You get extreme mood-swings when you don’t have a drink.
  • You feel sick and experience withdrawal if you don’t have a drink.
  • You hide your booze.
  • You feel like you don’t have a problem because your life isn’t falling apart.
  • You never, ever want to talk about your drinking.
  • You always have a legit (enough) reason to be drinking.
  • You tend to have only friends who drink.
  • Drinking is totally fine to you; it’s so normal you can’t imagine ever not drinking.

What Do You Do Now?

Well, you’re doing great so far.

However, it’s true that you can’t fix a problem if you can’t even admit that you have a problem. And now you’re here, so what do you do now?

Get help

Although it’s ideal to reach out to the ones you love for support, it’s more often than not, the hardest thing to do.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t get help.

There are so many organizations that are dedicated and experienced in helping people with addiction; Recovery Centers of America have 24-hour support.

So contact someone right now—before you convince yourself not to.

It’s the first essential step in recovery.