Many people usually drink alcohol as a pleasant way to relax. However, other people tend to drink too much or non-stop, endangering their own lives and other people, which can be problematic. When someone starts drinking too much alcohol, they may find it hard to feel good without it and get stressed frequently. They may also find it difficult to make decisions. This behavior is one of the warning signs of an alcohol use problem.
Are You Taking Too Much Alcohol?
When a person is drinking excessively, it means they are binge-drinking or drinking heavily regularly. Binge-drinking typically involves taking several drinks a night or during the day. Binge-drinking for men occurs when they take more than five drinks in a sitting, while it includes taking four drinks or more on one occasion for women.
Heavy drinking is classified by how many alcoholic drinks one takes weekly. For men, it includes 15 or more, while it includes eight or more for women. Each person is affected differently when they take alcohol, so how can you tell if you drink too much?
A drinking problem usually develops gradually, and it can take hold of you before you know it. Signs to tell you that you are drinking too much include the following:
- You’re experiencing withdrawal symptoms: After the euphoric effects of the alcohol wear off, you will experience distressing withdrawal symptoms. It is common for affected individuals to keep taking alcohol to avoid getting withdrawal symptoms, thus perpetuating the addiction cycle.
- Disregarding one’s responsibilities: If you find yourself calling in to miss work more frequently, you may have a drinking problem. It also becomes an issue if you prefer drinking to dealing with your duties at home, relationships, and family responsibilities.
- Drinking alone: This is not necessarily an indication you are drinking too much, but doing so more frequently than with other people can be a problem.
- You’ve been confronted about your drinking by a family member, a friend, or a co-worker. This could mean you are still in denial about your drinking problem.
- Hiding one’s alcohol use or keeping a secret stash of drinks and taking severe measures to hide their secret drinking from family and friends.
- Experiencing memory gaps: Temporary memory loss or blackouts are common for people dealing with alcohol abuse. You may have trouble remembering going to bed, eating, meeting people, or experiencing entire nights.
- Getting sick after taking too much alcohol: if you get sick due to your drinking, you may have increased blood alcohol levels, resulting in alcohol poisoning and hospitalization.
- Drinking more than you want to: You may notice that it is hard to stop at one or two drinks, and once you start drinking, you can’t stop. Alcohol problems usually develop when a person takes too much alcohol too fast.
- Drinking daily: If you expect to take alcohol every night and can’t relax or function without a drink, you might have a drinking problem.
- Being always hungover in the mornings: Moderate drinking should not result in a hangover, so you have a higher chance of drinking excessively if you are hungover daily.
Alcohol dependence or alcoholism is a serious disease with four main symptoms:
- Increased alcohol tolerance, which is the need to take higher amounts of alcohol to get drunk
- Physical dependence, which includes withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, shaking, sweating, and nausea when the individual stops drinking
- Loss of control, whereby the individual cannot stop drinking alcohol once they start
- Cravings, the strong urge to take alcohol
So, if you are exhibiting any of these symptoms, you may be suffering from alcohol addiction, alcoholism, or Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)
Other indications of alcohol use disorder include the following:
- Continuous alcohol use regardless of the harmful consequences in different areas of one’s health and life.
- Withdrawal symptoms that exhibit when the effects of alcohol start wearing off. Symptoms include appetite loss, fatigue, irritability, nausea, shaking, sweating, and jumpiness.
- The development of alcohol tolerance: When an individual has drunk so much that the body adjusts to having the substance in their system, they need more of it to get high.
- A family history of relatives who have suffered from alcohol addiction, which raises the risk of developing a drinking problem
- A change in appearance due to one neglecting their personal hygiene from drinking. Affected individuals may appear sloppier, unclean, and more unkempt than they were before.
- Engaging in dangerous behavior such as drinking and driving or doing other things that risk their safety and health.
- A loss of control over one’s alcohol use, whereby one drinks more or longer than intended despite wanting to quit.
Alcoholism or alcohol addiction is a medical diagnosis for people suffering from a severe drinking problem. The disorder is a recurring disease of the brain distinguished by a negative emotional state when sober, a loss of control over one’s drinking, and compulsive alcohol use.
To diagnose someone with an alcohol use disorder or alcohol addiction, you need to watch out for the signs mentioned above. However, if you need further confirmation, you can also ask yourself the following questions about their drinking habits:
- Have you ever tried to stop taking alcohol but are struggling to do so?
- Do you spend a lot of time taking alcohol or dealing with the effects of drinking?
- Do you have a strong craving for alcohol?
- Does your drinking cause issues for you at school, work, or home?
- Do you keep taking alcohol even though it causes trouble for you?
- Have you stopped engaging in your favorite activities to take alcohol?
- Does drinking increase your risk of getting hurt?
- Do you drink regardless of the negative effects of alcohol on your health?
If the answer to any of these questions was yes, then you will need alcoholism treatment as soon as possible. Regardless of the severity of your drinking problem, you can always benefit from treatment.