With alcohol regularly offered at dinner and easily available in stores and online, it can be difficult to tell when your use of the substance trips over the line of normal use into alcohol abuse or addiction. Here are five signs that your drinking has reached a level that could require intervention and treatment:
- You have health problems related to drinking. This could mean acute issues caused by overindulgence – hangovers, headaches, vomiting, and dehydration. Once is bad enough, but if you routinely wake up in the morning unable to function, it’s a sign of a problem. Also, if you worsen an underlying medical or mental health condition – or start experiencing issues of a new chronic disorder related to alcohol – this too is a sign that you’re drinking too much or too often.
- You have financial issues because of alcohol. Maybe you’re spending too much out at the bar on the weekends or purchasing high-end bottles of wine or liquor. Maybe you’re having a hard time at work because you’re too impaired to do your job well – or maybe you got fired due to your inability to show up on time and work well with others. Maybe it’s more about what you spend your money on when you’re under the influence. Shopping, gambling, going out to eat, etc. – all these can add up. No matter why or how it happens, if it’s alcohol-fueled, financial distress is a sign of an alcohol use disorder (AUD).
- You struggle in your relationships due to your behavior under the influence. It may be your spouse, your children, your extended family, or your neighbors – if you’re having a hard time connecting with other people (unless they’re also drinking) or if you routinely have arguments because of your choices under the influence, this could be a sign that you need help.
- You have legal problems caused by alcohol. Drunk in public, assault, domestic violence, homicide, DUI – there’s a long list of charges that commonly occur in conjunction with alcohol use and abuse. If you have found yourself in front of a judge due to alcohol use, and you are still unable to moderate or cut your alcohol intake, it’s time to get treatment.
- You’re using alcohol to deal with problems. Whether it’s ongoing issues like mental health symptoms or acute issues like a troublesome relationship or problems at work, if you are attempting to escape or numb feelings with alcohol, then it’s time to discover more healthful ways to manage stress.