Do You Have a Drinking Problem? How to Recognize and What to Do
While there is no particular quantity of alcohol or frequency of use that defines an alcohol use disorder, certain features can signal the beginning of a problem. There are some outward signs, such as risky behavior and affected relationships, but no single diagnostic method is available. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many to experience unprecedented stress. This has contributed to a spike in alcohol use.
Studies are emerging that are documenting this new trend in growing alcohol use. There has been an increase in binge drinking, with one study reporting one-third of participants exhibiting this behavior. The more individuals experienced COVID-19 related stress, the more they consumed alcoholic drinks on a greater number of days. 60% reported an increase in their drinking compared to their pre-pandemic levels. Common reasons included boredom, alcohol availability, and stress.
How do you know if you have a problem? Here are some common signs:
- Drinking more alcohol and for longer periods than intended
- Attempted to quit or cut down but could not
- Increased time obtaining alcohol, consuming it, or recovering from it (due to sickness or withdrawal)
- Consumed with wanting and thinking about having a drink; increased cravings ● Drinking interferes with work, school, or family
- Continuing to drink despite evident problems resulting from increased drinking ● Cutting back on activities due to drinking
- Risky behavior due to drinking that may lead to harm (such as driving, fighting, unsafe sex, etc.)
- Legal trouble due to alcohol use
- Having blackouts and continuing to drink despite alcohol-induced depression, anxiety, sickness, or other health problems
- More alcohol is required to produce desired effect or usual amount of alcohol not having the same effect
- Withdrawal symptoms, including nausea, sweating, trouble sleeping, restlessness, shakiness, headaches, irritability, depression, anxiety
If you said yes to any of the above, do not feel bad, you are not alone. Many people struggle with alcohol use. It is recommended to seek help sooner rather than later. Your doctor, therapist, or counselor can help you determine the proper course of action. The more signs you have, the more important it is for you to seek help. Become aware of the symptoms you are experiencing and make a note of them. This can help you recognize some behaviors that you may not be immediately aware of. Cutting off long-term alcohol consumption can be dangerous, so seeking help from a professional will be paramount. There are many approaches available for individuals with a wide range of presentations, and Serenity Trauma Healing Center can help tailor an approach unique to your needs and history.