Alcohol is the most widely used substance in the United States, where it is consumed by nearly 55% of adults every month, reports the National Institutes of Health. Many people drink in moderation to feel relaxed, have fun with friends, and celebrate special occasions. However, drinking has the potential to turn into an addiction if you do it regularly in high amounts, regardless of your reason for drinking.
Here are signs that indicate you may be an alcoholic and that it’s time to seek help from an addiction treatment provider.
You’re Drinking Higher Amounts
The amount of alcohol you’re regularly drinking may be significantly higher than the amounts you’ve consumed in the past. You may also be drinking over a longer period than was initially intended, such as through the entire month of January if your plan was to only drink between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
You’re Unable to Control Your Drinking
You may have difficulty adhering to the drinking limits you set for yourself. For example, you may plan to have only two drinks but end up giving in and drinking six. You may also feel a desire to quit drinking but keep drinking anyway due to loss of control.
You Devote Lots of Time to Alcohol Use
You may invest an ample amount of time into shopping at liquor stores or hanging out in bars and devote more time to drinking than to other activities. You may also spend lots of time recovering from the effects of alcohol in the form of hangovers and illness.
You Experience Strong Alcohol Cravings
You may experience physical cravings for alcohol or a strong desire or urge to drink. You may also think or fantasize about alcohol regularly, such as what your next drink will be and when you can drink again.
Drinking Is Interfering With Your Responsibilities
Alcohol use may be preventing you from fulfilling important obligations related to work, school, home, and family. For example, you may skip studying for an exam at school or skip laundry and other household chores so you can drink instead.
Drinking Is Causing Problems With Friends and Family
You may start having relationship problems with friends and family due to your drinking behaviors. For example, your friends may stop spending time with you if you tend to pick fights while drinking, or your partner may want to break up with you because they think you drink too much.
Drinking Has Taken Precedence Over Other Activities
You may have put aside your favorite or most important activities, so you can spend more time drinking. For example, if you used to exercise several times a week, you may have stopped so you can drink alcohol or because you feel too tired or hungover to maintain an exercise regimen.
You Drink in Physically Hazardous Situations
You may continue drinking even when you know it could lead to situations that cause physical harm. For example, you may insist on continuing to visit your favorite bar and drive home while intoxicated or engage in unsafe sex with people you recently met.
Drinking Is Causing or Worsening Health Problems
Alcohol misuse increases your risk for a number of serious health problems, including liver disease, heart disease, stroke, mental illness, and cancer. You may keep drinking despite knowing it is causing or contributing to these and other health problems.
Your Tolerance for Alcohol Is Higher
You may need to drink heavy amounts of alcohol to feel its desired effects due to having a higher tolerance. Or, you may have stopped feeling the effects of alcohol if you drink your usual amount.
You Experience Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
You experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms when not drinking, or you drink for the sake of relieving or avoiding withdrawal symptoms. According to the National Library of Medicine, common alcohol withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, fatigue, and shaking.
If you meet two or more of the above criteria, it’s possible you may be suffering from alcohol use disorder, reports the National Institute on Drug Abuse. An alcohol rehab center like Hickory Treatment Centers can help you safely withdraw from alcohol and improve harmful behaviors that may be contributing to your addiction.