Have you ever found yourself waking up the day after binge drinking still feeling the effects of alcohol and regretting some bad decisions? Or felt guilty about the way your drinking affects your family? Do you reach for a drink as soon as you wake up in the morning?
Alcoholism can sneak up on you, especially if you drink often enough to experience tolerance. Tolerance makes it harder to feel the effects of alcohol because your body gets used to the drug. That means you increase the amount of alcohol you drink over time so you can feel the same way. You might not realize that your drinking has become a problem because it happens so gradually.
If you’ve ever had reason to ask yourself “am I an alcoholic?” then you should stop to look at your alcohol use and consider how it affects your life. The impact could be bigger than you realize.
Use these questions to jumpstart the conversation:
1. Does Alcohol Negatively Impact Your Life?
You could have a drinking problem if you keep drinking even though alcohol has a negative impact on your life. These negative effects can be on your social life, finances, work performance, or health.
Alcohol can affect your life in many ways, including:
- Financial problems: It’s common for alcohol abuse to lead to financial trouble. You may neglect responsibilities, such as working or paying bills, so you can buy more alcohol.
- Health effects: Alcohol is hard on nearly every system of your body. The health effects of alcohol range from cancer to cardiovascular disease to liver failure.
- Problems with performance at work or school: Many people with an alcohol abuse problem have trouble attending work or school because of their addiction.
- Relationship stress: Your alcohol use might cause friction with your partner, family, friends, and loved ones, especially if you’re not willing to hear their concerns.
- Risky behavior: Abusing alcohol impairs your judgement. That can lead to unsafe sex, driving drunk, overspending, or other risky decisions that can cause problems for your well-being.
- Violent and aggressive behavior: Many people experience an increase in aggressive emotions and violent behavior when they drink too much alcohol. The personality changes can be so abrupt that your loved ones don’t recognize the way you’re acting.
- Esophageal cancer
- Heart failure
- High blood pressure
- Increased risk of death from
- Alcohol poisoning
- Car accidents
- Liver cancer
- Liver disease
These side effects can affect your health and your well-being. If you’ve experienced any of these effects and keep drinking anyway, then you should consider the possibility that you are an alcoholic.
2. Do You Feel Guilty About Your Drinking?
Alcohol can cause all kinds of friction in your personal relationships, especially when it comes to feeling guilt. If you have an alcohol abuse disorder, then you probably put alcohol above your loved ones at least some of the time. Those decisions can cause intense guilt about your drinking.
You might have guilt about your drinking if you:
- Have negative feelings about your self-worth
- Feel like you disappoint your friends and family
- Avoid loved ones so they won’t see you intoxicated
- Try to hide your drinking or lie about it
- Want to stop drinking but can’t
When you have guilt about drinking, it’s best to look at what’s making you feel that way. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a great tool for overcoming alcohol abuse. It has the added benefit of teaching you why you behave and feel the way you do. When you know why you feel guilt, you can change the way you act and avoid that feeling.
3. Do Loved Ones Show Concern Over Your Alcohol Use?
Sometimes your loved ones know that you have a problem before you do. They might confront you about your alcohol use and ask you to get help. That’s often the only way families know how to help an alcoholic.
It’s very common for people with alcohol abuse disorder to feel like they don’t have a problem. You might resist what your friends and family tell you about your alcohol use. It can be hard for you to see your own behavior clearly when you’re under the influence of alcohol.
Since your own perspective is skewed, it’s important to stay open to what your loved ones are saying. Their observations can be an important tool in your recovery if you let them.
If your loved ones show concern over your alcohol use, then it’s time to consider going into treatment. Rehab centers can be a safe place to begin recovering from alcohol abuse.
You should also think about attending group therapy with your family members and friends. The supportive environment can help you understand and process their concerns.
4. Do You Need a Drink to Start Your Day?
There’s no shame in an occasional Sunday morning mimosa. But if you’re knocking back alcoholic beverages every weekday morning, then you might have a problem. A shot of vodka in the morning isn’t exactly the same morning boost as a cup of coffee.
Drinking as soon as you wake up is one of the most common signs of alcoholism. It means that you’re physically dependent on alcohol.
That means that your body is so used to having alcohol in its system that it can’t function without it. If you’re dependent, then spending eight hours without alcohol at night is too much.
You might wake up with a headache, nauseated, and in a cold sweat, and the only thing that relieves the symptoms is more alcohol. You crave a drink as soon as you wake up. These are symptoms of physical withdrawal, which is your body telling you that it needs alcohol.
Overcoming physical dependence can be hard because alcohol withdrawal symptoms are so uncomfortable. It’s common to get a few days into detox and relapse when withdrawal becomes too intense to handle. For that reason, it’s best to withdraw under medical supervision if you’re dependent.
5. Do You Think You Should Cut Back?
If you have to ask yourself this question, then the answer is probably “yes.” But there’s an objective way to know if you’re drinking too much. Moderate drinking is considered safe, but what counts as moderate drinking?
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) define moderate drinking as:
- Up to 1 drink daily for women
- Up to 2 drinks daily for men
The limit is per day, not cumulative. That means you can have one drink daily for seven days and fall within the limit, but you can’t drink seven drinks in one day.
If you’re drinking more than that, then you could be drinking too much for your health. Talk to your doctor about your drinking habits to learn more about what’s right for you and your lifestyle. Depending on your history, it might even be best to quit drinking completely.
In general, drinking less is always preferred. In fact, the CDC doesn’t recommend that non-drinkers start drinking at all.
Get Alcohol Abuse Treatment Today
Do you need help to stop drinking? You aren’t alone in beating alcohol. A substance abuse treatment center gives you a safe and comfortable space to start recovery.
Some types of drug rehab centers include:
- Inpatient rehab: It’s common to begin your recovery with inpatient treatment. You’ll be closely monitored by addiction professionals who manage your symptoms and your progress. Most inpatient stays last around 30 days, but yours could be longer or shorter depending on your condition.
- Outpatient rehab: You might transition to outpatient rehab after a stint at inpatient, or you might start your treatment outpatient. It depends on how severe your condition is. With outpatient treatment, you’ll attend appointments, go to therapy, and possibly use medication to manage your substance abuse disorder.
- Sober living homes: Many patients spend some time in a sober living home as part of their ongoing treatment. This kind of facility does not offer treatment, but instead offers community. You’ll live around other patients in recovery and take part in group activities that help support your recovery.
Whether you spend time in one kind of treatment or more depends on whether your condition is stable and what kind of support you need. If you need intensive symptom management, then inpatient rehab might make the most sense.
On the other hand, if you’re managing your condition independently, then outpatient or a sober home could be the right call.
Are you ready to start taking your life back from alcohol? Start your recovery today by calling our drug rehab in Cape Cod for more information. A life without alcohol is just a phone call away, so don’t wait!
- Healthline: 5 better questions to ask yourself than “are you an alcoholic?” <https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/better-questions-than-alcoholic>
- Healthline: Alcohol and health: the good, the bad, and the ugly <https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/alcohol-good-or-bad>
- Centers for Disease Control: Frequently asked questions: alcohol <https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/faqs.htm#moderate>