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Have you ever asked yourself, “do I have a drinking problem?”. If so, it is important to know how to detect potential signs of alcohol abuse. It can be difficult to tell if your drinking has crossed the line from normal to problematic. Many signs can be hard to recognize and address. Moreover, symptoms of alcoholism can vary from person to person. Mild alcoholism can be easily missed, however, it can quickly become dangerous. This makes being aware of the potential signs of alcohol misuse essential.

If ignored, alcoholism can spiral out of control and ruin your life. Alcohol misuse can affect every facet of your life. Drinking can impact your career, social life, parental abilities, finances, self-care, and legal status. Alcoholism also has severe negative impacts on your physical and mental health as well as on your ability to maintain healthy relationships.

So, what is considered a safe level of drinking? According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, drinking up to 1 standard drink per day for women, and 2 drinks per day for men, is considered a moderate level of drinking. Women who have no more than 3 drinks per day and men who have no more than 4 drinks per day are considered to be at low risk for developing alcoholism. In addition to understanding what constitutes safe drinking levels, it is also important to know what is considered an unsafe level of drinking. While some people who suffer from alcoholism tend to drink every day, others will instead drink in short heavy bursts. Binge drinking oftentimes is common among young adults and those over the age of 65. It is important to acknowledge that binge drinking is an alcoholic tendency and just because you do not drink every day, doesn’t mean you’re not necessarily an alcoholic. Taking this into account, being able to recognize further warning signs of alcoholism, and if you are at risk of developing alcoholism, is essential.

Warning signs you may be an alcoholic

  • Experiencing blackouts or short-term memory loss.
  • Drinking more alcohol than you originally intended.
  • Exhibiting signs of irritability and mood swings.
  • Using alcohol in situations in which it is risky, such as driving or while using heavy equipment.
  • Making excuses for drinking, such as to relax and deal with stress.
  • Choosing to drink over other responsibilities.
  • Becoming isolated and distant from loved ones.
  • Drinking alone in secrecy.
  • Feeling hungover when not drinking.
  • Strong cravings for alcohol.
  • Having numerous unsuccessful attempts to cut back or stop drinking.
  • Using alcohol despite knowing its detrimental effects on medical or psychological disorders.
  • Spending a lot of time getting drunk and recovering from using alcohol.
  • Giving up on activities you used to enjoy to drink.
  • Conflict in relationships.
  • Issues upholding home, work, or school obligations.
  • Increase tolerance and having to drink more and more alcohol to get the same effects.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

Issues with drinking can sneak up on you, so it is crucial to be aware of your drinking habits and when it may be necessary to get help. Being able to recognize you may have a problem with drinking is the first step to recovery.

Self-assessment questions to ask yourself

Along with considering the warning signs of alcoholism, here are some questions you can pose to yourself to assess whether or not you may be struggling with alcoholism.

  1. Have you ever felt the need to cut down on your drinking?
  2. Have people ever criticized the amount of and frequency in which you drink?
  3. Have you ever felt guilty about your drinking?
  4. Are you unable to control the amount in which you drink?
  5. Has your drinking caused you problems in the last year?
  6. Do you tell yourself you can stop drinking at any time even though you keep getting drunk without meaning to?
  7. Have you had trouble keeping up with schooling or holding down a job because of your drinking?
  8. Do you have frequent “blackouts”?
  9. Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to either get rid of a hangover or stabilize your mood?
  10. Have you ever felt that your life would be better if you didn’t drink?

If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, you may be an alcoholic. If you are interested in addressing your alcohol use and require a supportive environment to do so, Design for Recovery may be for you. As a structured sober living home, Design for Recovery offers a safe space built on character building, peer support, and the development of skills for long-term sobriety. If you believe your drinking has crossed a line, reach out and get the support you need to regain control over your life.

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Edited by: David Beasley

David Beasley - Design for Recovery

David Beasley is a certified RADT (Registered Alcohol/Drug Technician). David, moved to California from North Carolina after many failed attempts to get sober.

Medically Reviewed by: Charley Allen

Charley earned his Masters of Clinical Psychology from Antioch University, Los Angeles, and is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT).He teaches mindfulness to both adults and children in group setting such as schools, corporate workplaces, and medical treatment facilities.

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