Alcohol use is often normalized. It can be found in almost any social situation and has become so commonplace that not drinking is sometimes treated as a strange behavior. The way alcohol is viewed has made overconsumption a standard practice and it can be difficult to identify when drinking behaviors become problematic. While many people are able to moderate their consumption and not allow it to impact their lives, there are countless people who find that drinking becomes part of their everyday experience. Even when they believe they have control over it, regular alcohol consumption can have a negative impact on their life.
If you are unsure as to what extent alcohol is impacting your life, you may consider reflecting on and answering the following questions. For some, learning how to moderate their consumption is useful, but for others, quitting altogether is the best action to take. Although alcohol is legal to consume, it is an addictive substance that can have detrimental long-term effects on physical and mental health. Being honest with yourself about the nature of your consumption and its impact on your overall wellbeing can help you make the decision to seek treatment.
1. Can you cut back?
Many who overconsume alcohol may first try cutting back. There are countless people who moderately consume alcohol and do not develop dependencies, but if you find that you are unable to stay within the limits you have set for yourself, you may need to stop altogether. If you do not have the ability to control how much you consume or how frequently, it can be an indicator that a dependency has developed.
2. How do you respond to feedback about drinking?
If someone comments on how much you drink or how frequently you consume alcohol, how do you react? It is not uncommon to find that those who are not ready to admit there is a problem become angry or defensive when confronted by it. Reactions to these discussions while under the influence may not be the best indicator of a developing problem. If your knee-jerk reaction while sober and calm is still aggressive or defensive, it may be worth considering why the conversations provoke such a strong response.
3. Are your relationships impacted by drinking?
Drinking can change dynamics in relationships. Your behavior under the influence can impact how loved ones interact with you, even when you are sober. In addition to alcohol potentially causing you to say things or do things you may not normally, it can also make you appear less reliable or dependable. Regular alcohol consumption can often make a person stop prioritizing responsibilities and relationships in favor of drinking. This negligence can cause relationships to fall apart or become strained over time.
4. Are you daily responsibilities affected?
When alcohol takes priority over everything else, you may not put time and energy into managing your responsibilities. You may find yourself missing more work, not showing up to important events, and not making time for obligations at home. Interference in your daily life can potentially lead to financial problems, strain in relationships, and possible job loss.
5. Do you need to consume more to feel the desired effects?
The more frequently you drink, the more likely you are to build up a tolerance. Over time, with frequent consumption, alcohol will no longer have the same effect it once did. You may find you need to drink more to feel intoxicated. Increased tolerance can also negatively impact your physical health as higher consumption can lead to more strain on your body as it metabolizes it.
6. Do you choose drinking over other activities and interests you enjoy?
When alcohol takes priority over hobbies and activities you once enjoyed, it can be a sign that your consumption is becoming problematic. Choosing alcohol over other interests and people is usually an indicator that a dependency is developing. An inability to maintain balance and a growing lack of interest in things that once brought joy are often associated with alcoholism.
7. Have you experienced withdrawal symptoms when the effects of alcohol wear off?
Over time, regular consumption of alcohol can lead to increased tolerance and dependency. Some of these dependencies may not be realized until you suddenly stop drinking. Once the effects of alcohol begin to wear off, a person who has become dependent on alcohol will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms. These can range in intensity and severity depending on individual circumstances. In order to keep these symptoms at bay, you may find yourself drinking more frequently, but this ultimately leads to increased health problems.
8. Have you been in repeated risky situations due to alcohol consumption?
Being under the influence can put you in risky or dangerous situations. While being intoxicated does not necessarily mean you will be put in risky situations, the likelihood of it occurring increases. Frequent alcohol consumption can put you in situations where physical assault, sexual assault, and accidents may occur. If you find yourself in these situations more frequently and notice that alcohol is often part of the equation, it may be the cause.
9. Does drinking worsen your health?
Frequent alcohol consumption can lead to the development of health issues and may exacerbate symptoms of existing conditions. Alcohol can also negatively interact with medications, leading to additional complications. In addition to the physical toll it can take on the body, alcohol can worsen mental health conditions as well.
10. Do you crave alcohol?
Craving alcohol is usually a sign that a dependency has developed. If drinking is one of the first things you do in the morning and you find yourself wanting to drink even in situations where it might not be appropriate, it can indicate there is a problem. Cravings can often be accompanied by feeling like you need alcohol in order to feel “normal”. This may be because drinking keeps withdrawal symptoms at bay or makes it easier for you to let your guard down around others. Depending on alcohol for this usually indicates that consumption has become problematic.
If you or someone you love is struggling with alcoholism, reach out to Nexus Recovery Services. We’re an outpatient treatment facility in Southern California, and we take pride in helping people begin the path of recovery.