For some of us, we like to come home from work, kick back and open a “cold one.” It can take off the edge and help us to relax and unwind from the day, but for some it doesn’t just stop at one drink. Alcohol is a legal substance and has been used in many cultures as a common relaxant. It can help break the ice when you’re on a date, making conversation a little easier, or relax us in a stressful situation. There’s a fine line between what’s a socially acceptable amount to consume and what you can handle.
So how much is too much? The Dietary Guidelines for Americans1 state that one standard drink per day for women and two for men is considered “moderate” drinking, but that doesn’t provide many answers. If you’re concerned about your drinking, it’s likely that you’ve already exceeded the moderate level. How can you tell if you may be developing a problem? There are many common signs that you may be headed toward alcohol dependence, but there also ways you can combat this problem.
7 Signs You May Be Depending on Alcohol
1. I set limits for myself, but I keep breaking them.
Many individuals who start to grow concerned about their alcohol intake try limiting themselves to a specific number of drinks per night, only to find they break that limit every time. If you find yourself unable to stay under a maximum number of drinks you set for yourself, you may be developing a problem2.
One option might be to set a tracker in your phone to keep tabs on how much you drink and how often you’ve exceeded your limit. This also might be a good time to start considering what triggers your drinking – is it the places you go? Your friends? A specific mood? Whatever it is, try and avoid what is causing you to over consume. If you’re unable to do that, try keeping a list of reasons not to consume alcohol on your person.
2. Dinking in situations where it is not safe.
If you are starting to drink in situations where it is not safe, such as operating a motor vehicle or while swimming3, it may be time to consider your alcohol usage an issue. Drinking in excess can lead to impaired judgement, which can put yourself in dangerous situations. Getting behind the wheel of a car is a bad decision and can lead to motor vehicle accidents. Over the last decade, nearly 10,000 people have died yearly due to preventable drunk-driving crashes4. If you plan on drinking, make sure to make other arrangements, like a designated driver or use ride sharing services to get home safely.
3. All my plans involve drinking.
Take a look at your weekly routine or plans you’ve made with friends, family or co-workers, do they involve drinking at every outing? If your nights are all filled with various pubs, meeting with friends where you know drinking will occur, and parties, you might have a problem.
Instead of planning all your activities around alcohol, try and invite friends to places where alcohol isn’t served, like on a hike. Some other ideas are staying in and having a game night, going to the movies or grabbing a coffee if you’re a morning person.
4. Continuing to use alcohol even though it is causing physical and emotional harm.
Whether you’re a social drinker or you have been diagnosed with an alcohol abuse disorder, there are short and long-term effects on both your emotional well-being and physical damage to your body. Short-term effects can range from mild to severe and can include mood swings, loss of judgement, lack of coordination, passing out and even vomiting5. Long-term effects of repeated alcohol abuse can include memory loss, lack of attention span, depression, hepatitis, cancer, stroke and high blood pressure. Chronic drinking will leave lasting effects on the body if not treated.
5. Having cravings for alcohol.
Are there times where all you can do is think about alcohol or you start day dreaming of relaxing with a cold one in hand? This is a sign that you are craving alcohol. Another indicator of cravings is if you start to feel something is wrong and only alcohol can fix it6. This is psychological and harder to combat. You keep thinking in your head “I need a drink, I need a drink,” and continue to try and refrain from consuming. If you have gotten to this point, there is definitely an issue at hand that needs to be addressed.
6. Developing a tolerance to alcohol.
Over time, individuals who repeatedly use alcohol will build a tolerance7, which will require them to drink more and more each time, to receive the desired results. You may not even realize that you have continuously increased your intake, while trying to compensate for your tolerance. At some point, you will be putting yourself in danger due to the amount of alcohol you have consumed, which could result in alcohol poisoning or death.
7. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal occurs when there are changes in your body if you suddenly stop drinking after a prolonged period of time8. Some symptoms you may endure when having withdrawals include trouble sleeping, incessant shaking, increased anxiety and other physical and mental symptoms. To get through withdrawals that are not severe, being surrounded by a supportive environment that is quiet, has dim lighting and healthy food, should help you to get past these symptoms overtime. If you or someone you know starts to experience seizures, immediately call 911.
If you feel you may be drinking too much, or know someone who is struggling with alcohol dependency, it may be time to seek treatment. There are many great programs available for those suffering with alcoholism.
When you’re ready, All Points North Lodge is here with the programs and expertise you need to face your alcohol abuse issues with confidence. Our team of expert clinicians are ready to help you take the next step towards healing and recovery. We offer programs designed to treat addictions and mental health disorders. Nestled in the beautiful Rocky Mountains, APN Lodge offers a luxury rehab experience that is surrounded by the perfect environment for healing, personal growth, and recovery. Using evidence-based treatment approaches, our team of clinicians has the expertise to guide you through the process from referral through program completion.
To learn about all that the APN Lodge experience offers, reach out to one of our Contact Center team members at 866-525-9107. Let us help you find your way forward.
- CDC. “Dietary Guidelines for Alcohol.” Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 Dec. 2020, www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/moderate-drinking.htm.
- Gardner, Amanda. “7 Subtle Signs You’re Drinking Too Much-and What to Do About It.” Health, 10 July 2014, www.health.com/condition/alcoholism/7-subtle-signs-youre-drinking-too-much-and-what-to-do-about-it.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. “Alcohol Use Disorder.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 11 July 2018, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alcohol-use-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20369243.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Dec. 2020, www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving.
- Monico, Nicolle. “Effects of Alcohol on the Body & Mind: Short & Long-Term.” Alcohol.org, American Addiction Centers, 9 Feb. 2021, www.alcohol.org/effects/.
- Clark, Benya. “What Do Alcohol Cravings Feel Like?” Medium, Exploring Sobriety, 21 June 2019, medium.com/exploring-sobriety/what-do-alcohol-cravings-feel-like-2647e25522b6.
- Pierucki, Heather. “Alcohol Addiction Treatment & Rehab: Why Is Alcohol Addictive?” American Addiction Centers, Recovery Brands, 14 Apr. 2021, drugabuse.com/alcohol/alcohol-addiction/.
- The President and Fellows of Harvard College. “Alcohol Withdrawal.” Harvard Medical School, Harvard Health Publishing, 22 Apr. 2019, www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/alcohol-withdrawal-a-to-z.