Even though alcohol is a legal, controlled substance, consuming too much can certainly be a bad thing. It is often hard to find the fine line between having a good time and abuse.
Alcohol is usually categorized by beer, wine, or hard liquor. Since alcohol slows down mental and body processes, you may say and do things that you wouldn’t normally have done being sober.
What is Abuse?
Considered a social lubricant, alcohol and can make you feel more confident and less likely to care how you are perceived by others. Any type of drinking that results in a negative outcome is technically considered abuse. Here are few examples below:
- Physical harm or illness
- Strained relationship
- Problems at work
- Financial difficulties
Addiction to alcohol, known as alcoholism, is evident when someone craves alcohol and needs it to feel “normal”. Some common signs of alcoholism are wanting to stop drinking but can’t, drinking more than intended, developing an intolerance to alcohol, feeling symptoms of withdrawal after discontinued drinking, and putting a drink before personal and professional relationships.
If you drink alcohol to cope with things or to avoid feeling bad, there may be a bigger issue there. Below are some other signs and symptoms of alcoholism
- Losing control of your drinking
- Wanting to quit, but you just can’t
- Giving up activities you once enjoyed because of alcohol
- Drinking alcohol takes up a great deal of your time and day
- You still drink even though you know it is causing problems
Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between having a good time with a few drinks, and actually crossing the line, especially when denial is involved. And honestly, you may not even be sure where you are on that spectrum. Additionally, you can’t solve a problem if you aren’t even sure there is one. There are some tools that may be able to help you see the bigger picture more clearly.
Listed below is a quiz to see if you have an alcohol addiction, or if you are in jeopardy of developing one. Make sure you answer the questions honestly. The results are anonymous and are just for you to help guide you in the right direction on your road to recovery.
Answer the following series of YES/NO questions to the best of your ability. And, remember to be honest with yourself when answering each question.
Do you find yourself drinking during periods of stress, sadness, and disappointment? (Y/N)
Have you noticed yourself having a higher tolerance for alcohol? Meaning, can you drink a lot more now than from when you first started drinking? (Y/N)
Have you ever blacked out and can’t remember anything that happened after drinking a significant amount of alcohol? (Y/N)
Do you often drink by yourself? (Y/N)
If alcohol isn’t available to you, do you ever feel uncomfortable? (Y/N)
Do you ever feel bad or guilty about how much alcohol you drink? (Y/N)
Has anyone ever told you that they are concerned about how much and often your drink?(Y/N)
Do you like to drink more often or longer than your friends do? Are you usually the last person at the bar? (Y/N)
Have you ever regretted something you said or done when you were drinking?(Y/N)
Have you ever planned to limit your drinking, like changing the type of alcohol your drink?(Y/N)
Do you tend to drink more on weekdays? (Y/N)
DO you drink when there is no actual reason to celebrate? (Y/N)
Have you ever been arrested or cited for an alcohol-related offense, such as a DUI or public intoxication? (Y/N)
Have you found yourself avoiding your family or partner when you are intoxicated? (Y/N)
Has your work or grades suffered because of you use of alcohol? (Y/N)
Have you ever deliberately not eaten a meal before drinking so you could get drunk quicker? (Y/N)
When you wake up with a hangover, have you ever felt that you needed to drink in order to feel better? (Y/N)
Have you ever had needed a friend to watch out for you while drinking? (Y/N)
Do you ever feel depressed before, during, or after periods of drinking? (Y/N)
Does alcohol abuse run in your family? (Y/N)
If you answered yes to:
1-7- You are considered a social drinker, and are more likely to save the alcohol to celebrate special occasions. You drink responsibly and know your limits. However, if you ever feel like you want to scale back on your drinking, consider seeing a counselor or joining a meeting for support.
8-14 – You could be on your way to long-term problems with your drinking habits. You could just be going through a difficult phase, or you could be headed down a rough path. If you’ve already tried to limit your drinking, consider seeking professional help before the problem gets out of hand.
15-20 – Your life is being negatively impacted by alcohol. You often engage in risky behavior and the excessive drinking is negatively impacting your work and social life. You should contact a certified addiction specialist to help you overcome your drinking problem.
Disclaimer/Note: This self-assessment is purely provided for self-awareness and educational purposes only and should not be used to diagnose an alcohol disorder or addiction. Seek help from a treatment professional if you think you have an alcohol addiction.
Drinking and Denial
Denial is one of the biggest obstacles that keeps someone from getting help with drinking when they really need it. If you find yourself rationalizing, lying or defending your drinking habits, take a step back and look at why you are being so defensive. If you really believe you don’t have a problem, there should be no reason to deny that you have an issue with drinking.
We discussed the mental and emotional toll of drinking, but there are certainly physical tolls as well. Heavy drinking can cause potentially lethal damage to the body including cancer, heart problems, and liver disease. Other issues include:
- Tremors, convulsions, or uncontrolled shaking of the hands
- Profuse sweating
- Extreme agitation or anxiety
- Persistent insomnia
- Nausea or vomiting
Know the Issue
Abusing alcohol is unfortunately very common, and can sneak up on you very quickly. If you or someone you know if suffering from addiction to alcohol, you don’t have to recover alone. There are plenty of places and people that specialize in alcohol rehab who are willing to help you. It is important to know the signs and symptoms of alcoholism in order to recognize when there is a real problem.
HelpGuide.org. (2016, June). Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse. http://www.helpguide.org/articles/addiction/alcoholism-and-alcohol-abuse.htm
Addiction Center. (2016). Alcohol Addition and Abuse. https://www.addictioncenter.com/alcohol/.