If you’re like most Americans, you might drink alcohol to celebrate, relax, or decompress after a long workday. Unfortunately, this can make recognizing the signs of alcoholism difficult. If you drink regularly, you may not be an alcoholic, but your casual drinking habits can develop into alcoholism. Here are a few subtle warning signs you should pay attention to and watch out for.
1. You drink when you’re stressed, to relax, or to feel better
Using alcohol as a form of stress relief teaches the brain to rely on alcohol as a source of pleasure and reward. If this habit continues, natural sources of dopamine will eventually no longer be able to help you feel better, which may make you feel as though alcohol is your only source of “happiness.” Deep breathing, listening to music, walking, exercising, writing, laughing, and watching relaxing television shows are alcohol-free activities that can help you decompress and cope with difficulties.
2. You become defensive when people talk about your drinking habits
If your initial reaction is to immediately deny or rationalize your drinking habits without being willing to actually cut back on drinking, you may have a psychological or physical dependence on alcohol. You might also have an alcohol problem if you lie about or hide how much or how often you drink. You might also be an alcoholic if you find yourself getting angry when family and friends comment on your drinking.
3. You drink alcohol at odd times
Drinking early in the morning, during lunch, and at other unusual times throughout the day can also be a sign of problematic drinking. This may look like replacing your morning coffee with alcohol, having alcohol during the workday or at school, or waking up in the middle of the night to drink.
4. You skip meals but continue to drink alcohol
Your brain and body need vitamins, minerals, protein, and healthy fats to function well. When you’re replacing that level of critical nutrition with alcohol, your body has developed a physical need for alcohol that greatly increases your risk of alcoholism.
5. You drink more than you used to
Your body may have also developed a physical dependence on alcohol when you need to drink much more than you used to in order to feel the effects of alcohol. You may think this means you have your drinking under control, but it really means that your body is exposed to alcohol so often that it’s become accustomed to its presence. This increased tolerance for alcohol is a strong warning sign of alcoholism.
Other signs and symptoms can include:
- Neglecting responsibilities at work, school, or home
- Habitually blacking out whenever you drink
- Troubled relationships with family and friends
- Frequent short-term memory loss
- Frequent diarrhea or stomach pain
- Not being able to stop drinking once your start
- Trying to quit alcohol but being unable to
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you’re not drinking
Helping You Regain Control of Your Life
Destructive drinking habits can easily develop into alcoholism. But that doesn’t have to be your story. Here at Bridges of Hope, our goal is to help people regain control of their life. If you can identify with any of the warning signs above, let us be a bridge of hope for you. We can help you live a thriving life that isn’t dictated by alcohol. Our serene location can help you recenter yourself, develop healthier habits, and rediscover the joy of life without alcohol. Contact us today to learn more.