It’s usually in those bleary-eyed minutes after the overhead lights come on in the bar, when the clock hands are somewhere south of midnight but north of 6 a.m., that those of us who have a drinking problem start to consider just how bad it might be.
If it’s the third or fourth or fifth or even the seventh night in a row we’ve been out drinking, we might have a problem. If we once again tried to limit ourselves to a handful of beers but found ourselves counting the empties gathered before us, we might have a problem. If we wake up the next morning with no memory of what happened the night before, we might have a problem.
There’s a big difference, however, between “might” and the certainty that accompanies a long, hard look at the warning signs that define a frightening reality.
So what are the signs we may have a drinking problem? Here are 10 of them:
- Drinking more than we intend to on a regular basis. Perhaps we set restrictions at the beginning of the party for the maximum amount of drinks we plan to consume, but once we reach our limit, we always seem to tell ourselves, “One more won’t hurt.” That “one more” is followed by another, and another, until we find ourselves in the very place we didn’t want to wind up: drunk.
- We often drink until we black out, then play off our blackouts as a joke. “Last night must have been wild — I don’t remember any of it!” we laugh. Or, we awaken with the certain horror that we said something or did something embarrassing, and we spend several hours working up the nerve to call a friend who might be able to tell us.
- Ignoring responsibilities because of alcohol. Maybe we often find ourselves waking up to an empty house on the weekends, our spouses having left while we were still passed out to take our children to sporting events or the zoo or other activities. Maybe we’re persistently late to work because we’re hungover. Perhaps we consistently miss deadlines for our school work or job projects because we refuse to put in extra hours that may interfere with our drinking.
- Putting drinking before people in all of our relationships. We often stay out at the bar long after our significant other expects us home; we disrespect parents who ask us not to bring alcohol to family gatherings by doing so anyway; we make frequent promises we can’t keep to our children because we’re too drunk or hungover to follow through.
- Constantly craving alcohol, regardless of the situation. If we’ve succeeded on the job, we want a drink to celebrate. If we’re having relationship problems, we want a drink to drown our sorrows. Whatever the occasion in our lives, we’re insistent that they call for a drink, or several.
- Hiding or lying about our drinking. Maybe we sneak alcohol into work in our coffee thermos, or slip a flask into the movie theater in our purse, and we never let those around us know. If we’re asked how much we’ve had, we never own up to the full amount.
- We engage in reckless behavior while drunk. How many times have we woken up beside a stranger, unsure if we’ve been given a disease or risked a pregnancy? How often do we come to in the mornings to find our car in the driveway, with no memory of having driven home? If the answer is “more than we care to admit,” then we might have a problem.
- We drink alone. Drinking is our go-to activity when we’re bored, lonely or just don’t feel like doing anything. We’re tired from work and plan a night in, but we always make sure to stop by the liquor store or the grocery store on our way home to pick up alcohol.
- We’ve suffered serious legal or financial consequences because of our drinking. We’ve lost a job, or been arrested for driving while under the influence — and those consequences weren’t enough to get us to stop. In fact, we may have even used them as an excuse to drink more.
- We’re endangering our health. We notice physical withdrawal symptoms when we’re coming down — trembling hands, high blood pressure, anxiety, irritability, profuse sweating and more are all signs that our bodies have grown dependent on alcohol.
If you meet more than half of these signs, you may have what’s classified as a Several Alcohol Use Disorder, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism — a condition otherwise known as alcoholism.
While such a diagnosis is certainly cause for alarm, it’s not a condition you have to live with. Alcoholism can and will lead to any number of legal, physical and fatal consequences, but there is a solution: Sobriety is a lifestyle changed that’s been embraced by millions of recovering alcoholics, and at Cornerstone of Recovery, that’s what we offer. If you find yourself with some or all of these signs, chances are good you could use our help. Call our Admissions Department today at 1-866-865-3689.