Are you drinking too much?

| 04 Apr 2018 | 01:21

America has a drinking problem, and it's only getting worse.
According to a 2015 report by the National Institutes of Health, nearly one-third of American adults at some point in their life have alcohol abuse disorder, but only 20 percent seek treatment.
“What’s really alarming is that the intensity of drinking is dramatically increasing,” says George Koob, PhD, director of the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism, an NIH agency that supported the study. “We’re seeing a 5 percent increase — that’s roughly a million more people than 10 years ago—who are knocking back more than 5, 8 or 10 drinks in one sitting.”
The following warning signs may indicate alcohol abuse:
Hiding alcohol — You hide your drinking from your peers, coworkers, friends, or family. If you hide your alcohol in a secret stash so that you’re able to drink, or drink greater quantities, you might have a problem.
Binge drinking — According to the Centers for Disease Control, binge drinking occurs when a certain number of drinks are consumed within two hours. For men this generally equates to five or more drinks, and for women, four or more.
Engaging in risky behaviors — Alcohol can decrease your judgement, ability to reason, and your sense of inhibition. As these things falter, and as a person consumes more alcohol, they may be apt to engage in behaviors that they wouldn’t otherwise consider, including, driving recklessly, taking part in unsafe sexual practices, or operating heavy machinery.
Driving under the influence — This risky behavior deserves a question of its own. Have you ever gotten behind the wheel of a car after drinking beyond the legal limit? This not only jeopardizes your safety, but that of those around you, including any passengers, pedestrians, or occupants of other vehicles you might encounter along the way.
Blacking out — Have you ever spent a night drinking only to wake up the next day and not remember events from the night prior? Have you had to resort to asking someone what happened, and still found that you don’t remember? Heavy drinking can impact a person’s cognitive functioning to the extent that they have significant memory lapses.
Frequently sick after drinking — If you experience hangovers on a regular basis, it could be a sign that your alcohol use is out of control.
The hair of the dog — Have you ever found that you fixed yourself a drink when you woke up in an attempt to reduce the ill effects of drinking the night before? Or because you couldn’t imagine starting the day without numbing it a bit first? People may refer to this drink as an “eye opener,” or “hair of the dog.”
Changing interests — As a person becomes increasingly more preoccupied with alcohol, they may find little to no interest in things that previously interested them, including hobbies, family events, or community involvement.
Withdrawing from social obligations or relationships — Due to feelings of shame, or fear of being found out, or simply because a person’s thoughts continue to revolve more and more around their pursuit of drinking, a person may begin to push their friends, family, or coworkers away, and lose interest in social activities and events other than those that revolve around finding and consuming alcohol.
Drinking to cope — If you encounter yourself drinking as a way to combat stress, troubles within your life, or symptoms of mental health disorders, this is a worrisome behavior.
Developing a tolerance — Does it take more alcohol to create the same desired effects than previously achieved from a smaller amount? This is due to your body developing a physical dependency on the alcohol.
Financial difficulties — Experiencing financial troubles due to your pursuit of alcohol can be a major warning sign that trouble is on the rise. If you find that you are spending money that you don’t have on alcohol, or money that should be put towards your mortgage, utilities, food, or any other financial obligations, there is cause for concern.
People become concerned — If your friends, family members, or coworkers have approached you about your drinking habits, the way you behave when your drink, and/or how your drinking affects them, your drinking may be out of control.
Don't go it aloneA person may experience symptoms of withdrawal if they suddenly stop drinking, such as shaking, sweating, anxiety, sleep disruption, fatigue, and fast heartbeat. Addicted people should gradually taper off the amount of alcohol they consume while under medical supervision.
If you or a loved one suffers from an alcohol addiction, you don’t have to journey towards sobriety alone. There are many alcohol rehab programs across the country that can help you find individualized care that can assist you towards finding sobriety.
For resources on alcohol addiction, visit