Am I An Alcoholic?
Alcohol is part of the fabric of modern life. From raising a glass for your health to celebrating good times or “drowning your sorrows,” alcohol is so acceptable and so available that it can be hard to recognize whether you’re drinking responsibly – or crossing a line into alcohol abuse and addiction.
Many factors including sex, age, weight and even family history can affect how we use, or abuse, alcohol. Figuring out where you fall on the spectrum of moderate drinking to severe alcohol addiction may require some self-reflection and the support of addiction treatment specialists.
Moderate, Heavy, or Addicted?
To help set standards for the healthy use of alcohol, the US Department of Health defines moderate drinking as no more than two drinks a day for men and one for women. For these purposes, a “drink” is about 14 grams of alcohol – the amount in an entire 12-ounce can of beer, or as little as just 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits such as whisky or rum.
It’s not too difficult to overstep those limits, though, and people who do so frequently or regularly can be considered “heavy drinkers.” That comes to more than 4 drinks a day, or 14 per week for men, and more than 3 drinks per day, or 7 per week for women. This kind of drinking has the potential to become an alcohol abuse disorder, or addiction. If your drinking habits fit or exceed this pattern, you may be an alcoholic. Here are some behaviors to watch for.
- Changes in drinking habits
- Drinking heavily to relieve stress
- Needing to drink more than you used to get the same effect
- Hiding your drinking from others
- Continuing to drink even when you feel sick
- Feeling uncomfortable and anxious if alcohol isn’t available
- Blacking out or doing things you don’t remember while drinking
Effects on Life and Work
Alcohol abuse can affect every aspect of life and put relationships in jeopardy. You might be an alcoholic if you:
- Harm yourself or others while drinking
- Get in trouble with the law, such as an arrest for DUI or other activity
- Have problems on the job or miss work due to drinking
- Fight with your spouse or partner over your drinking
- Lose contact with friends or family members because you drink
- Get into fights and confrontations with strangers while drinking
Withdrawal Symptoms if You Quit
Because alcohol abuse affects brain chemistry and changes the pathways related to pleasure and reward, suddenly quitting alcohol causes withdrawal symptoms that can range from very mild to life threatening. If alcohol has become an addiction, you might experience withdrawal symptoms like these if you stop drinking:
- Anxiety and agitation
Withdrawal symptoms can also cause potentially life-threatening problems including seizures, delirium tremens (DTs) and rapid heart beat, so it’s essential to get help immediately if these occur.
Alcohol addiction can develop gradually with changes like starting to drink earlier in the day, or “needing” a drink before a big meeting. You might not realize how much you’re drinking until a friend or family member points it out. Or you may be rationalizing your drinking as a reaction to stress or traumatic events. In any case, you can successfully recover from your addiction with the right treatment.
Treatment That Works
Inpatient alcohol rehab is the “gold standard” for addiction treatment, with the lowest relapse rates of any treatment model. Inpatient, or residential, rehab centers offer support for all stages of addiction recovery from detox to counseling for long-term recovery. Although outpatient treatment programs also include these services, a stay in an inpatient center provides a calm and distraction-free place to recover from addiction and work on staying alcohol free for life.
Do you recognize the signs of alcohol addiction in your life? If you think you might be an alcoholic, we have the answers you need now. Contact us at 800-839-1686 to find the solution that’s right for you.