It is not always easy to see when your drinking habit has crossed the line and from social or moderate use, it has become a drinking problem. But in case you consume alcohol for coping with the difficulties or for avoiding feeling bad, you are in potentially dangerous territory. Alcohol abuse and alcoholism can sneak up on you, therefore it is important that you are aware of the warning signs and that you take steps in order to cut back in case you see any of these signs. The first step in overcoming a problem is to understand it.
Understanding alcohol abuse and alcoholism
Alcohol abuse and alcoholism are because of many interconnected factors. These include genetics, how a person is raised, the emotional health and the social environment. Some races, like Native Alaskans and American Indians have more risk of developing addiction to alcohol. People having family history of alcoholism or the people who closely associate with the heavy drinkers have a greater chance of developing drinking problems. Lastly, the people suffering from mental health issues like anxiety, bipolar disorder or depression are also at risk, because alcohol might be used for self-medication.
As drinking is very common in different cultures and its effects vary widely from one person to another, figuring out the line between problem drinking and social drinking is not easy. The bottom line is what effects alcohol is having on your life? In case your drinking habits are a cause of problems in your life, then you have drinking problem.
Signs and Symptoms of alcohol abuse:
The experts of substance abuse make distinction between alcoholism and alcohol abuse. Alcoholism is also known as alcohol dependence. Unlike the alcoholics, the alcohol abusers do have some ability of setting limits on themselves and their drinking. But, their alcohol usage is still very self-destructive as well as dangerous for themselves and others.
Following are the common signs & symptoms of alcohol abuse:
- Neglecting one’s responsibilities at home, school or work continuously because of the drinking problem. For example, flunking classes, poor performance at work, neglecting your children, or skipping out on the commitments because of hang over.
- Experiencing legal problems repeatedly because of alcohol. For example, repeatedly getting arrested for drunken, disorderly conduct, or for drunk driving.
- The use of alcohol in situations where it can be physically dangerous, like operating machinery in intoxicated condition, drinking before or during driving, or mixing prescription medication with alcohol against the orders of the doctor.
- Continuing to drink despite the fact that use of alcohol is causing problems in relationships. For example, drinking with your friends, even when you know that your wife is going to be upset about it, or fighting with your friends or family because they don’t like how you act after drinking.
- Drinking to de-stress or relax. The start of many drinking problems is when people use alcohol for self-soothing and relieving stress. For example, drinking after stressful day or drinking after having an argument with boss or spouse.
Signs and symptoms of alcoholism (alcohol dependence):
The most severe type of drinking problem is alcoholism. It involves all symptoms of the alcohol abuse and there is another element in it too: being physically dependent on alcohol. In case you rely on alcohol for functioning or you feel physically compelled to drink, you are an alcoholic.
- Tolerance: The First major warning sign of alcoholism
Is it that now you have to drink much more than before in order to feel relaxed? Are you able to drink more than other people without getting drunk? These are the signs of tolerance and it can be an early warning sign of alcoholism. By tolerance what is meant is that overtime, a person needs more alcohol in order to feel same effects.
- Withdrawal: The Second major warning sign of alcoholism
Is it the case that you need a drink in order to steady the shakes in morning? Drinking for relieving or avoiding the withdrawal symptoms is sign of alcoholism and it is a huge red flag. When a person drinks heavily, his/her body gets used to alcohol and the person experiences withdrawal symptoms if alcohol is taken away.
Alcoholism recovery means discovering a way to stay sober while changing your mindsets and behaviors. You are going to work to restore relationships with your family and friends and people at your work or school. You will need to find meaning and contentment in a healthy way of life that doesn’t include alcohol.
Alcoholism recovery is not a cure. It is an ongoing process. It begins in treatment, but it doesn’t end when your treatment ends. There are 10 principles of alcoholism recovery that could help you achieve your goals and learn new things to help yourself. They help you achieve self-confidence and respect for yourself. They make clear that you’re in charge of your recovery. How far you go is up to you.
To stay sober after treatment, focus on your goals. Discover things to do, such as sporting activities or work as a volunteer. Start by saying no to alcohol and drugs.