Many people who develop drinking problems over time do so because they ignore the obvious warning signs. If they do acknowledge those signs, they choose to keep drinking in spite of them. I know because I was one of these people. Though I only drank for two years, there were many instances I could have (and should have) paid more attention to. I could have saved myself a lot of trouble had I paid attention to certain warning signs early on. Here are a few things to watch for that could mean your drinking is becoming problematic.
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1. You drink at times when other people don’t.
This was perhaps the biggest warning sign of all for me personally. I always wanted to drink. Sometimes, I drank before class in college. Sometimes, I drank before meetings. Sometimes, I drank in the mornings. None of these are normal situations in which one would drink, but I felt like I was a calmer, more likable person when I had a buzz. This can be a sign of a problem with drinking because it means you may lack control over when you choose to consume alcohol. It also indicates that alcohol overpowers your ability to make good, responsible decisions when it comes to the everyday aspects of your life.
2. You feel as if you need alcohol in order to enjoy yourself.
When I was actively drinking and had to go to a social event where there wouldn’t be alcohol, I immediately dreaded going. I would start to think about how I could drink beforehand or if it would be possible to sneak alcohol into the event. I even put vodka into water bottles sometimes so that it would appear I was drinking actual water. When you start to become manipulative or sneaky in order to drink, there is likely a problem. Normal drinkers know that they can have fun and let loose with or without alcohol. Problem drinkers don’t usually feel that way.
3. You often don’t remember parts of the night (or any of the night).
This is commonly referred to as browning out or blacking out, and it’s not normal. Though you may want to laugh about a lack of memory or chalk it up as something that happens to everyone, this isn’t the case. Blackouts are caused when the level of alcohol in the blood increases rapidly. When I think back and realize that I literally have lost the memories of entire nights of my life, that’s scary. What’s even scarier is that I ignored that memory loss, even laughed about it. Blackouts, especially consistent ones, are a serious matter and should be treated as such.
4. You often injure yourself or others while drinking.
While a few battle scars may seem meaningless, that’s not the case. If you often wake up from a night of drinking and find yourself covered in bruises, cuts or other injuries, you may need to take a step back and evaluate your drinking. People who drink normally do not drink to the point of losing control of their bodies and putting themselves in physical danger. Additionally, consider if you have physically harmed someone while drinking. When you drink to the point that you lose control of the ability to make good decisions, there is likely a problem with your relationship with alcohol.
5. Your relationships have begun to deteriorate.
If you have a problem with drinking, you’ll likely notice this trend as time passes. If you find yourself drinking heavily and doing or saying things you wouldn’t while sober, you’ve probably had to apologize to friends somewhat often. Though they may forgive you the first few times, it will eventually begin to take a toll. People will become less forgiving and you may find that certain relationships have been ruined as a result of your drinking habits. This isn’t something that normal drinkers experience, as they typically have control of their actions and words while drinking. Someone who has a problem drinking likely finds that control does not exist. Friends don’t always understand this and may find it easier to simply walk away from the relationship. If you’ve lost friends to your drinking, it may be time to sit down and think about your habits.
Though these signs are often indicative of a problem, everyone is different. Some people with an addiction to alcohol may not experience any of these situations, or may experience different ones entirely. What matters is that if there are signs that alcohol is impacting your life negatively, you need to sit down and think about why that may be, then take the necessary steps to address the situation.
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