Alcohol is the most widespread addictive substance in the United States. Studies show that more than 17 million Americans have an alcohol abuse or dependency problem.
The Addiction in Sheep’s Clothing
Drinking alcoholic beverages is accepted as a normal social activity, and in most cases, it does not carry the same stigma as narcotic drug use. However, its acceptance can be misleading.
Despite the sheep’s clothing that often cloaks alcohol abuse as socially acceptable, it is an addiction. If you have occasionally wondered whether you have a drinking problem, chances are you do. Here are some other signs that you may have a drinking problem.
Alcohol-Related Encounters with Law Enforcement
If alcohol has resulted in an arrest for public intoxication, other criminal activity or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), the chances are very high that you have a significant drinking problem. A bout of rowdy, disorderly conduct in school while under the influence of alcohol may be innocent enough and not indicative of a drinking problem, but being charged with assaults, thefts, and other crimes while drunk is a strong indicator of a behavior-altering problem with alcohol.
Neglecting family relationships, significant others or becoming abusive to them because of alcohol is a sign of problem drinking. Unfounded anger at friends and aggressive behavior while drinking are also clues that alcohol dependency is a problem for you.
Lying About Alcohol
This is a common one. Most alcoholics are in denial before finally admitting they have a problem. If you lie about alcohol consumption, it indicates that you recognize you may have a problem and are trying to hide it. However, lying about drinking only makes matters worse and delays the recognition that you have a drinking problem and need help.
If you live alone, a beer after work or glass of wine with dinner does not necessarily make you an alcoholic. Likewise, a one-time heavy drinking event on your own in response to an emotional crisis like the death of a loved one or a romantic break-up may not indicate a drinking problem. However, regular, excessive drinking alone is a key warning sign of alcoholism. If you look forward to getting home alone each day to have that first cocktail, beer or glass of wine, the chances are very good that you have a drinking problem.
Hiding Your Dinking
Have you ever tried to sneak booze into a movie theater? Do you step outside to your car at family gatherings to fill your glass from the bottle under the seat? Do you sneak downstairs at night to have a drink or two after everyone has gone to bed? Like lying about it, hiding your consumption of alcohol and looking for ways to do it without being detected are signs of serious alcohol dependency.
If drinking has become more important than your everyday adult responsibilities, you have a drinking problem. If you neglect family relationships, fail to pay the bills, miss work or school, don’t bathe and decide against taking care of the normal, daily chores of life because you want that drink, it is very probable that you are addicted to alcohol.
This sign can take different forms. You may pay the bills, but alcohol may degrade your performance at work or school. Alternatively, perhaps, you take care of major responsibilities, but avoid your usual recreational activities because you would rather drink.
Health Impacts of Alcohol Abuse
Like all addictions, alcohol dependency brings with it many consequences. Excessive drinking has been linked to a number of health risks, including:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Liver cirrhosis
- High blood pressure
- And more
Not drinking doesn’t mean you won’t ever become sick, but increasingly, doctors recommend alcohol avoidance when treating patients suffering from these diseases.
Protecting yourself and your family from the effects of alcohol-induced disease begins with the recognition that you have a problem. If your lifestyle includes any of the warning signs of excessive drinking, act today. Speak about it with one of the many counselors and support groups that can help you overcome alcohol dependency.