The last few years have led many people to re-evaluate their relationship with alcohol. Some experience a moment of clarity that leads them to wonder whether their consumption habits are something more insidious.
While drinking alcohol isn’t a healthy choice, there are clear indicators of a deeper issue. Here are nine signs your alcohol consumption is becoming problematic.
You Can’t Stop at One Drink
One notable sign that your relationship with alcohol is unhealthy is if you’re unable to commit to having one drink. It’s normal to go out to dinner and have a celebratory beverage. However, if you can’t resist a refill or frequently find yourself in a situation where one drink becomes many, there’s an issue. If you have a healthy relationship with alcohol, you have control over your consumption rate.
On a broader scale, if you’ve expressed interest in quitting alcohol and can’t, it indicates a dependency. Consider seeking professional help with your addiction to put the skills and supports in place for sobriety. Click here to find alcoholics anonymous meetings near you. Reflect upon your relationship with alcohol and determine whether you have a false sense of control; many do.
You Frequently Black Out or Get Hungover
If you frequently get blackout drunk, experience memory loss, or hangovers that preclude you from accomplishing anything, there’s an issue. When you black out or experience a hangover, it’s your body’s response to poison. If frequent hangovers are preventing you from completing tasks or fulfilling your responsibilities, there’s a problem.
Alcohol Is Your Main Coping Mechanism
Alcohol isn’t meant to be a coping mechanism, yet many find themselves self-medicating with booze to offset the impacts of stress, sleep disorders, and mental health challenges. If your first thought after a bad day is that you can’t wait to drink, it’s time to re-evaluate your relationship with alcohol.
Preferring alcohol as your de-stressing tool doesn’t mean you have an addiction, but it indicates a deeper issue. Work with a professional to develop healthy coping mechanisms for stress so you don’t develop a dependency over time.
You’re Experiencing Financial Insecurity
If your alcohol consumption is putting your financial future at risk, it’s time to re-evaluate your habits. There are several factors to consider here. There’s a problem if you’re spending too much money on alcohol and struggle to pay your rent or other bills. Another issue in this category is whether your consumption or hangovers risk your job security. Finally, it may be time to reconsider your budget if you’re already experiencing financial hardship and finding money to purchase alcohol.
Again, financial insecurity in itself isn’t a clear sign of an addiction. However, alcohol should never put your financial future at risk, and it deserves reflection.
You Engage in Risky Behaviors
Engaging in risky behaviors while under the influence indicates the need for a change. These behaviors are things you wouldn’t do while sober or feel shame or embarrassment about later. Some activities, like driving, swimming, or climbing on things, could put your physical safety at risk.
Risky behaviors can be summed up as a loss of control over a situation or oneself. If alcohol leads to a loss of control for you and you continue to use it, it’s time to reach out for support.
You Have Emotional Outbursts
Emotional outbursts are another form of control loss. If your alcohol leads to a loss of control over your emotions, it’s time for a change. This issue is especially concerning if it’s impacting your relationships. If you and your partner fight more while drinking or you become violent, it’s time to stop.
The challenge that many people face when reflecting upon this behavior is that it doesn’t happen every time. Many people can drink regularly and then randomly experience an outburst. This event typically leads to a lull in consumption until time has passed and the cycle repeats. If this sounds like something you experience, and you become a wild card when drinking, it’s not worth the risk. This cycle can lead to increased incidents of domestic abuse and legal disputes that could impact the custody of your children and your career.
You Lie About Your Consumption
There’s an adage that states there’s no reason to lie if you’re not doing anything wrong. If you feel compelled to lie about your alcohol consumption or hide it entirely, ask yourself why that’s the case. If the reason is to avoid conflict with a partner or family member, practice self-awareness and reflect upon the other things on this list. The person you’re lying to may have a valid reason for their concerns. Otherwise, why lie?
Your Tolerance Increases
One of the subtle signs that your relationship with alcohol is becoming an issue is an increase in tolerance. If you need to drink a lot more to experience the same feeling, or you can drink excessively and no longer get a serious hangover, that’s a concern.
This issue indicates that you’re likely drinking much more than you know. While you may not feel the same physical effects, the alcohol does the same level of damage and more since your consumption is up.
You Experience Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawal symptoms can be subtle and difficult to detect. They may present as something else, but it’s a general sense of a mild hangover when you’re not drinking. Withdrawal symptoms may include:
- heart palpitations
- low mood (depressive state)
- sleep disruptions
- sweating or poor temperature regulation
- poor focus
- emotional dysregulation
In severe cases of alcohol dependency, this could develop into a full detox situation, complete with a fever, hallucinations, and even seizures. If you notice physical symptoms and need another drink to stop them, it’s time to reach out for support.
Try to avoid rationalizing as you read this list. It’s natural to feel defensive or derisive when your behaviors are challenged. However, taking time to reflect and practice self-awareness will indicate an issue with your alcohol consumption— though if you’re reading this, there’s likely a reason.
There’s no shame in reaching out for help on time.