Eleven Signs Your Drinking may be More Than Social
Spotting the warning signs of unhealthy alcohol consumption can be difficult; because alcohol is everywhere and drinking is not just socially accepted but somewhat expected in Australian culture.
It is easy to find a good excuse to have a drink. Knock-off drinks on a Tuesday, big nights out on the weekend, birthdays, engagements, work functions, Sunday afternoon barbeques… the list goes on.
There is a fine like between social drinking and habitual drinking; and while it can be confronting to take an honest look at your drinking habits, it is nonetheless an important thing to do.
If you are suspecting that your drinking habits are getting out of control, or if you feel like you are developing an alcohol dependency, it might be time to re-think your drinking behaviour. It’s never easy to address uncomfortable truths, in fact, it can be hard to know where to start the process.
The following questions are designed to kick-start your introspective – take your time and answer honestly. Remember, you are not the only one going through this; and it’s never too late to get help and change.
How much are you actually drinking?
When we talk about alcoholism, we usually distinguish between heavy drinkers and binge drinkers. Per current definition, heavy drinking constitutes more than four standard drinks per day/fourteen standard drinks per week for men and three standard drinks per day/seven standard drinks per week for women. The term binge drinking describes less frequent but very hard drinking behaviour; more than five standard drinks within two hours for men, four or more for women.
If you exceed the weekly or daily limits, you might be at risk.
Are you drinking on your own?
If you no longer require company to drink and have started drinking regularly on your own at home, it might be time to start monitoring your intake more closely. There is nothing wrong with a quiet beer or wine on the deck after a hard week; however, if you feel you can’t unwind without alcohol, this could mean you are developing a dependency.
Are you drinking secretly?
Secrets are never a good thing when it comes to alcohol consumption. If you feel you must lie about how much and how frequently you drink to avoid judgement, it’s time to put on the breaks and rethink your behaviour.
You might think you are protecting your loved ones, friends, and colleagues by bending the truth about your drinking habits; but at the end of the day, transparency it always the best policy.
Do you feel guilty about drinking?
Problem drinkers are usually in denial about their unhealthy habits; however, even the most powerful denial can’t keep feelings of guilt at bay.
While some might describe drinking as a ‘guilty pleasure’, once the guilt takes over there is nothing pleasurable left – and if you’re not drinking for pleasure, you might be drinking for the wrong reasons.
Is your drinking causing problems?
To be clear, you don’t have to be a rock-bottom level alcoholic to acknowledge that your drinking habits are problematic. Even seemingly small things can be red flags for alcohol abuse.
Do you spend more money on alcohol than you should? Are your drinking habits causing arguments with your partner? Have you missed work or school because you drank too much the night before? Have you engaged in unsafe behaviour while intoxicated?
There is no shame in admitting that things have spun out of control; but the sooner you acknowledge these issues the sooner you can address them.
How often do you think about alcohol?
Are you spending a disproportionate amount of time thinking about when you will have your next drink/where you will procure your next drink/how soon it will be socially acceptable to have a drink? Do you think about having a drink as soon as you wake up? Do you worry about not being able to have a drink until much later in the day?
If alcohol is a source of anxiety and rumination, you might need to consider seeking help to adjust your drinking behaviours.
Are you experiencing extreme mood swings?
Alcohol abuse doesn’t just impact your physical health, it also destabilises your mental health.
If you find yourself getting snappy and agitated over small things, impatient with loved ones and generally unable to cope with life’s little annoyances, your drinking habits could be part of the problem.
Even high-functioning alcoholics – who are holding down a job, paying the mortgage and maintaining relationships – aren’t immune to mood swings; so, if you’re reactions are out of character and out of your control, it might be time to seek help.
Do you drink first thing in the morning?
Feeling the need to have a drink as soon as you wake up and being unable to resist this need is a huge red flag. Drinking in the morning often translates to ‘drinking to feel normal’, which is the very definition of alcohol dependency.
Can you stop yourself from having ‘just one more’?
Drinking alcohol becomes a problem when you are no longer in control of your intake. Often this means going out for ‘a drink’ and staying until the bar runs dry or the money runs out.
If you can’t stop drinking once you have started, it can be a sign that your alcohol consumption has moved outside your control; and that professional help might be needed to change your habits.
Are you neglecting your responsibilities?
Alcohol dependency tends to get in the way of fulfilling your responsibilities.
You might be late to pick up the kids because you got waylaid at the pub. Perhaps you missed an important meeting because you overslept with a hangover. It could be something as simple as not contributing to the housework because you are too busy having a relaxing drink (and then some) on the couch.
If you find that you prioritise drinking over everyday tasks, it is time to examine your behaviour and get help.
Is the fun gone?
Can you still enjoy yourself without having to drink alcohol? Do you still get pleasure from simple things, like hanging out with your partner on the sofa or having a quiet coffee or walk with a friend? Or are ever-present cravings and thoughts of alcohol getting in the way of having a good time sober?
No one deserves a joyless existence; and there are many options available to help you break this cycle of misery. The Hader Clinic Queensland can help you with Alcohol Addiction Treatment today.
Queensland’s only private rehab centre with ACHS accreditation
We are proud to be the only private drug and alcohol addiction treatment centre in Queensland to be independantly accredited.