Do you have a drinking problem?

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It seems that every time I turn on the TV these days, there are adverts advocating lower alcohol intake. Unfortunately, for many, it is already too late; alcohol addiction already has them in its grasp. But at what point does drinking a bit too much become an illness that takes over the life of the sufferer? This is obviously debatable, particularly because an alcoholic finds it hard to even admit that they have a problem. However, here are some pointers that will hopefully provide food for thought, enabling those with a problem to tackle their issues before full-scale addiction takes grip.

Do You Frequently Exceed Your Limit?
Some people are able to have a few drinks, but stop when they feel that they have reached their limit. Others may know that they have reached their limit, but are unable to stop, continuing until they fall over or pass out. As someone with a serious drink problem, hopefully now firmly in the past, I can see, with hindsight, that this is where my problem began. I did not necessarily drink often, but when I did, I exhibited a total lack of control. As the years rolled by, the occasions when this happened increased. I would strongly recommend that anyone who feels that their drinking is slipping out of control should try and do something about it before it is too late.

Do You Binge Drink?
Read more in AddictionA lot of people refuse to accept that they have a drink problem because they don’t drink regularly; they “can take it or leave it”. However, when they do, they go completely overboard. If you go for a month without alcohol, but then drink a month’s worth of units in one weekend, you are doing more damage to your body than if you drink one or two units a day. This may sound obvious, but so many people do exactly this and refuse to admit they have a problem.

Do You Drink Alone?
Alcholics have different habits. Some are social drinkers, preferring to go to the pub and drink with whoever is on hand at the time. Others prefer to drink alone. Both can be lethal habits. Those who drink in public are at risk of injuring themselves or being injured, but they do generally have someone to look out for them. As a lone drinker, I am all too aware that I could have seriously hurt myself or even died following a drinking session. Once I was so upset that I tried to take an overdose – obviously it wasn’t effective, but it so easily could have been – although the next day I couldn’t remember why I had decided to do so. If you are a lone drinker, then you need to take steps to come out of the closet. Don’t hide yourself away.

Do You Lose Huge Chunks of Time To Drinking?
A lot of people have so much to drink on the odd occasion that they cannot remember parts of the previous evening. If this becomes a regular occurrence, and if you are forgetting more than just the odd five minutes of conversation, then it is time to realise that you are drinking too much. Try cutting back on your alcohol intake and/or interspersing alcohol with soft drinks. You’ll feel a lot better the next day and won’t have to worry about having made a total idiot of yourself.

Do You Regularly Take Time Off Work Because of a Hangover?
Most people take a sickie every now and again. Certainly, I know very few people who haven’t at one point or another. However, if you are regularly taking time off work because you have a hangover – and by that, I mean a hangover that is disabling – then it is time to take a good hard look at your drinking habits before you run the risk of losing your job.

Do You Struggle to Get Through the Day if There is No Alcohol at the End of It?
If you are finding that the only thing that persuades you to go to work in the morning is the idea of a drink in the evening, then you are either deeply unhappy in your job or life, in which case you need to address the problem, or you are becoming addicted to alcohol and the buzz that it gives you. Try to see if you can abstain during the week and remember that, although it temporarily makes you feel better, alcohol is a depressant and feelings of unease are likely to increase the next day.

Does Alcohol Make Up a Large Part of Your Weekly Shopping Bill?
Alcohol is generally very expensive, and, in the UK at least, it seems to be increasing in price all the time. If you’re spending more money on alcohol for yourself than you are on food – and it is easy for that to happen – then the chances are you need to look at your weekly intake and make some cutbacks. You will be surprised at how much money you save as well.

Are You Constantly Making Excuses for Yourself?
You may be all too well aware that your drinking is getting out of control, but refuse to seek help because you can blame your desire to drink on a factor in your life – a failing relationship, a job you hate, being overweight or under-confident. Unfortunately, experience has taught me that changing something in your life does not necessarily mean that your drinking will decrease. In fact, I found that I was drinking whether unhappy or happy – it is always easy to find an excuse. Don’t fall for it.

Have You Stopped Having Hangovers?
I think the point at which I knew that I really had a problem was not when I was missing days off work because of hangovers, but when I was able to have huge amounts of alcohol and for it to have very little effect on me the next day. Don’t be fooled into thinking no hangover means you don’t have a problem. It just means that your tolerance towards alcohol is outrageously high.

If any of these issues are familiar, do something about it. You may decide to go cold turkey, cut back, talk to friends or seek help from a counsellor, but don’t hope it will all go away. You may already be well on the way to alcohol addiction.

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