The normalization of social drinking has made it difficult to tell whether a person is already alcohol dependent. This is especially true in the initial stages of dependency. It’s always easier to notice an alcoholic when the drinking problem has become worse.
There are some symptoms to look out for in order to determine whether you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol use disorder.
“I’m not an alcoholic” “I only had one/two/three drinks” “The last time I had a drink was…”
Have you ever said these words to yourself before? You may have a drinking problem and you don’t even know it. Or in most cases, refuse to accept it.
Denial is actually the first symptom that a person has a drinking problem. Continuously denying that the condition exists can seriously affect your chances of getting the treatment you need as early as possible.
Denial comes in many forms, including:
- Rationalizing the act. Counting how many drinks you’ve had in a seemingly rational manner.
- Refusing to talk about drinking because “it’s not really a problem”.
- Blaming people or situations that lead you to grab a drink, or two, or more.
- Hiding the fact that you did have a drink.
- Comparing the gravity of your drinking with that of another person – and thinking that you don’t really drink as much as he does.
Part of the rationalization process could also be that you have a great job and that you’re able to support a family or a certain lifestyle with that job. Some heavy drinkers have reached a level of success that is not commonly attributed to alcohol use disorder. This is a classic example of high-functioning alcoholics.
You may even partly agree with people when they tell you that you need to minimize the drinking. But it’s easy to pretend, and you may not necessarily follow through with it.
What do you do when caught in a stressful situation? Do you reach for a drink right away? Did you cope with the death of a loved one with the help of alcohol? Did you drink when you got laid off or didn’t get that sought-after promotion? Did you drown the sorrow of your divorce with bottles of alcohol?
There are many stressful situations wherein the first instinct is to reach for a bottle and lose yourself in the oblivion that only a drunken stupor can provide. But doing so can do more harm than good for your body. Research shows that drinking alcohol every time a stressful situation arises can create significant brain chemistry changes through the excessive release of cortisol.
This means that in the long run, reaching for a drink becomes an unconscious habit every time you feel even a slight discomfort.
Do you find yourself drinking for longer periods than what you originally intended? The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as:
“A pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol levels to 0.08 g/dL”
- NIAA, Drinking Levels Defined
Binge drinking can be difficult to address. That’s because it’s often done by groups of friends with the initial intention of just having a fun night out. This is most common in younger age groups. For women, a 0.08 g/dL happens after just 4 drinks and for men it happens after 5 drinks within a 2-hour period.
There is somewhat of a norm for group binge drinking these days. But if you find yourself binging even when you’re all alone, then there could possibly be a problem there.
It’s a fact that alcohol impairs judgment. Too much alcohol often leads to risky behavior. Impulsive urges become more dominant, often with very little regard for personal safety.
Have you ever been too drunk to remember how you got home or how you got into bed with a stranger? More importantly, how often has this happened? If it happened more times than you can count, then it’s probably time to consider getting into a rehab program.
Note that alcohol use disorder is not just based on the level of alcohol consumption but also on how often alcohol is consumed. You need to start asking yourself just how much alcohol is too much. Under relatively normal circumstances, 2-3 servings of an alcoholic drink is enough to make a person tipsy.
How much do you have to drink before you feel the effects of the alcohol?
Consistent alcohol intake increases the body’s immunity to its effects. So, someone with a drinking problem may require higher levels of alcohol intake just to get a little tipsy. The level increases if you want to get really drunk. This becomes a cycle wherein the level of alcohol constantly increases until you start to lose track of how much you’ve consumed in a day or an hour. In worst cases, you may even completely lose track of time.
If you’ve noticed any or all of these symptoms on yourself, it’s best to seek immediate professional help.
To learn more about beating alcohol addiction and getting the professional help you need, visit Rehab Peterborough at http://www.addictionrehabpeterborough.co.uk. Rehab Peterborough are a detox and rehab help and advice service.