So you have a drink when you get stressed, so what? Doesn’t everyone do that? Well, not everyone and of the people who do, some suffer from alcohol dependence and abuse. It can be difficult to come to terms with alcohol abuse. Lots of people drink. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports: “In 2013, 86.8 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime; 70.7 percent reported that they drank in the past year; 56.4 percent reported that they drank in the past month.”
You may feel justified in drinking. Maybe your life is really stressful and drinking helps you to relax. Maybe you are going through a difficult divorce or a family death. How do you shed possible denial and come to terms with an addiction? Looking for common symptoms is a great way to start.
A lot of people struggle with an alcohol use disorder, which encompasses dependence and addiction. The NIAA also reports 16.6 million adults ages 18 and older an AUD in 2013. That is seven percent of that age group.
If you read this article and feel like the symptoms listed are representative of your experiences and behaviors, you are probably dealing with an alcohol use disorder and it is time to get help. Every day you continue drinking is another day that you impact your health negatively, not to mention your life. To connect with resources and explore treatment options, contact 800-598-5053 for help.
Before you can begin to determine whether or not you are dealing with an addiction, you need to know what qualifies as an addiction.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction as a “chronic, relapsing brain disease.” It is a brain disease because the actual process of developing alcoholism takes a very real toll on the b rain and changes its structure and make-up. Over time, these changes contribute to further addiction and other dangerous behaviors. On the most basic level, addiction is marked by seeking and using drugs, without concern for the negative consequences.
It is important to understand that there is not concrete agreement about what causes addiction. Because of this, there is no single treatment that works for everyone. If you determine you have an addiction, you should be ready to research your options and to pursue the ones that seem the best suited to your needs.
Because addiction is marked by seeking and using, despite unhealthy outcomes, it has a series of related behaviors that can serve as general guidelines of addiction.
- Are you obsessed with alcohol? Does it consume your thoughts?
- Do you drink compulsively?
- When you stop drinking, do you go through withdrawal?
- Do you have difficulty controlling your drinking or lack control altogether?
- Are you denying that you have a problem to concerned family and friends?
- Do you hide your drinking to avoid concern?
- Do you have frequent blackouts?
- Are you depressed?
- Do you have low self-esteem?
- Are you frequently anxious when you don’t have control?
You don’t need to have every one of these characteristics to be an alcoholic, but they can serve as a starting point if you are evaluating yourself.
In the next step, you should ask yourself questions that relate more specifically to alcoholism. NIAAA suggest you ask the following questions.
In the past year, have you:
- More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t?
- Spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over the aftereffects?
- Found that drinking — or being sick from drinking — often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems?
- Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink?
- More than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unsafe sex)?
- Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?
If these symptoms sound familiar to you and you have not yet accepted that you are an alcoholic, it is time to stop living in denial and to call 800-598-5053.