Having a few drinks with friends can be a lot of fun. But, for some people, casual drinking can become a problem. According to 2019 data from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 14.5 million people in the United States suffer from an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).
Knowing when you’ve crossed the line into problematic drinking can be difficult to understand, though. It’s nuanced and varies from person to person. But there are a few common signals to look out for. Here are some signs to be aware of that might indicate your drinking habits are becoming a problem.
Driving under the influence, swimming, having unsafe sex, and getting into fights are just a few of the dangerous situations drinking can put you in. Alcohol lowers inhibitions and affects your judgment, making you behave in ways you ordinarily wouldn’t. When that puts you in danger time and again, it might point to an alcohol problem.
You love hiking after work with buddies, but you cancel to hit the bar. You used to enjoy woodworking in your free time, but those happy hour drinks are making it difficult to finish any projects when you get home. If you relate to an experience like this, you could be feeling the impact of a drinking problem. Don’t lose sight of what makes your life full in favor of alcohol. Recognize the signs, and take action.
This might include regularly feeling sick after nights of drinking, or it might include withdrawal symptoms. Most people who have had a few too many drinks at least once in their lives know what a hangover feels like. The headache, nausea, sometimes vomiting, and fatigue can have a heavy impact on your day. But withdrawal comes when you’ve grown dependent on alcohol but don’t drink. Those symptoms might be nausea, trouble sleeping, shakes, restlessness, sweating or a racing heart. They might even include seizures.
When the drinking or aftereffects of drinking start to impact the rest of your life, it’s time to take notice. That might be missing out on a promotion, or getting fired. It might mean letting your kids down when you forget to show up to their school activities because you were blacked out.
Whether it impacts work, school, your family, or other personal relationships, you could have a problem.
Say you used to feel buzzed after one drink, but now it takes three to feel the same thing. That could be a sign that you’re building up a tolerance to booze. You might want to take a look at the other ways alcohol impacts your life.
If your drinking habits are taking a toll on your life, it’s time to seek help. Don’t wait until you hit rock bottom; changing your habits is typically much easier if you start earlier.
Behavioral health specialists at Community Health Partners can help you address the physical, mental and emotional aspects of what you’re going through and create a plan to make a change. A behavioral health therapist can help you find your way toward lifestyle changes that will stick, guiding you to a future that doesn’t involve negative impacts from a drinking problem. There’s no shame in struggling with substance abuse, and there are resources in your community that can help. Make an appointment to find your way through.