Red Flags: 11 Subtle Signs You Have a Problem With Alcohol 

Many people who have a problem with alcohol don’t admit to having a problem until their life begins to unravel. But if you’re a high-functioning alcoholic like I was for well over a decade, you have this delusional “advantage” of never having to admit you have a problem. 

I never got arrested (although there were several times I should have). I never lost my job. I was never evicted. I never had a car repo’d.

It never got that bad. At least, that’s the story I was willing to tell myself. Because I most certainly exhibited many other subtle yet telltale signs…

According to the Centers for Disease Control, excessive drinking is four to five drinks a day. Yep, I definitely had a problem with alcohol.

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11 Subtle Signs You Have a Problem With Alcohol

Read on for some subtle signs of alcoholism, and if these red flags ring true in your own life, it’s time to seek out professional help.

  • #1 Using Alcohol as a Daily Crutch
    I loved any excuse to drink. If I was productive at work and deserved a reward. If I was angry because someone cut me off in traffic. If I was bored. If it was Sunday. Alcohol was the answer for everything in my life. It became an unconscious daily crutch; I used it to cope with anything that came my way, whether that experience was positive, negative, or neutral.
  • #2 Having Chronic, Obsessive Thoughts About Drinking and Partying
    My days used to revolve around drinking. It was the worst when I lived in LA. Although I never drank at work (unless, of course, there was a work event where alcohol consumption was encouraged), I couldn’t wait to get out of the office so I could either go to my favorite neighborhood bar for the daily 4pm – 7pm happy hour or head to the grocery store to re-up on two more bottles of cabernet sauvignon.
  • #3 Attempting to Limit Yourself to a Certain Number of Drinks (and Failing Every Time)
    “Only one glass of wine tonight. I can’t be hungover at work tomorrow, I really need to focus.”
    I always set out with good intentions, but my follow-through was terribly weak. One glass of wine always turned into four – if I was lucky. I had no clue how to set boundaries with myself, which was a result of ​​growing up in a highly dysfunctional household.
  • #4 Easily Finding Excuses to Drink Even Though You Specifically Planned to Not Drink
    “Well, I guess I don’t have to finish that project tomorrow. I can always do it on Thursday. Or even Friday.”
    “It’s the Super Bowl. You can’t do Whole30 AND the Super Bowl. Besides, it’s just a few days. Who’s really counting?”
    Again with the lack of personal boundaries.
  • #5 Getting Annoyed When Other People Don’t Want to Drink or Party With You
    I was always the first person to suggest an outing to a bar and / or the first to open a bottle of wine. If a friend wasn’t on the same path of destruction, there was a good chance their “uptight” habits annoyed me and we didn’t hang out that often.
  • #6 Being Angry, Defensive, or Childish If People Comment On Your Drinking Habits
    My go-to was always one of two options: curt dismissal or blatantly flying off the handle. I definitely knew better than everyone else, and I knew that my drinking was definitely not an issue. At least, those were the lies I told myself.
  • #7 Excessively Spending Money Even Though You Don’t Have the Funds to Back It Up
    I spent the better part of my twenties living paycheck to paycheck. I also had a plethora of debt to my name. But neither of those things stopped me from spending $150 on drunken “Sunday Funday” shenanigans every weekend.
  • #8 Engaging in Risky Sexual Behaviors With Little to No Memory
    My chronic drinking routinely led to embarrassing one-night stands with low vibrational men who were a match to my equally low vibrational energy. I was living with a lot of unresolved sexual trauma and sought comfort in mindless drunk sex as a way to cope. 
  • #9 Developing a Tolerance So You Need to Drink More Alcohol to Feel Its Effects
    It always starts out with a few drinks here and there. Then it progresses to a daily evening drink because “it was a long day at work.” The next thing you know, you can’t go a single night without consuming an entire bottle of wine by yourself. And some nights, you find yourself making a trip back to the store to buy one more bottle because…why not? 
  • #10 Surrounding Yourself With “Friends” Who Provide the Least Amount of Resistance
    I had a habit of surrounding myself with people who were a low vibrational match to my energy. For the most part, I spent a lot of time with my toxic party friends because they all readily encouraged my unhealthy drinking habits, but I also had no problem with friends who casually turned a blind eye to them either.
  • #11 Feeling Irritable, Tired, Depressed, Nauseous, or Anxious When You Haven’t Had a Drink
    In the crux of my drinking problem, I woke up panicked and jittery more times than not. I didn’t know what it was like to actually feel good. My body was on overdrive just trying to keep up, and my mind was in a constant state of panic. I was living in a perpetual state of anxiety, and the only cure was another drink.

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When It’s Time to Admit You Have a Problem With Alcohol

If any of these subtle signs and symptoms hit home for you, then it may be time to have an honest sit down with yourself and admit that you have a problem. Not to mention, nothing in life is coincidence; you’re reading this blog post for a reason.

Taking ownership doesn’t mean you’re responsible for what drove you to your drinking problem; taking ownership means you’re actively willing to own your response to it.

For information about treatment options for you or a loved one, call 800-839-1686Who Answers? today. 

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