I am a strong believer in monitoring what we put into our bodies. Chances are if you are reading this, you are making a responsible choice to examine your alcohol drinking habits. Hopefully you will come away from this feeling more confident about responsible drinking in your life. Knowing how much is too much is not easy, and drinking too much does not necessarily make you an alcoholic. Ultimately, the only person who can answer this is you. Here are some ways to look at your drinking to help you make a decision:
This is the “old-school” way to look for alcoholism. It is not strongly research-based, but it is a helpful way to start. Answer these four questions:
Cutting back: Do you try to reduce your number of alcoholic drinks?
Annoyed: Does anybody get annoyed with the amount of alcohol you consume?
Guilty: Do you ever feel guilty about your drinking habits?
Eye-opener: Do you drink in the morning to manage alcohol withdrawal?
If you answered, “yes” to three of the four questions, watch out! You may be drinking too much and possibly suffer from alcoholism. You may want to read further to take a closer look.
Does it interfere?
If drinking interferes with your job, such as calling off with alcohol withdrawal, poor performance, or losing employment due to drinking, this should be a big warning sign about your drinking. It is less obvious when it comes to family and relationships.
Pushing family away:
Many people feel that when we make room for drinking by pushing family members away, this is a warning sign we may be addicted. This may look like putting children to bed early and staying up late to open an extra beer or two after our spouse goes off to bed.
Ignoring you spouse:
Drinking greatly affects our spouses. Actually, the number of alcoholic drinks consumed is part of how to assess the health of a marriage. This is because heavy drinking is a risk factor for unhealthy marriage. I have become a strong believer that spouses should have a say in what we put into our bodies. If you find yourself repeatedly putting off your spouse, you may be damaging your marriage. Are the drinks getting in the way?
Coping with stress, anxiety, and depression:
Alcohol is a depressant and is a good way to cope with negative emotions. Unfortunately, this may turn into a cycle that makes our negative emotions worse in the long run. When responsibilities increase in life, we may find ourselves turning to alcohol more to get by. After long days and hard news, our reliance on alcohol may eventually turn into an addiction that we cannot escape.
If you feel you or a loved one may have a drinking problem, I would encourage you to reach out to a counselor. They can help you better evaluate the extent of the problem and help you develop a treatment plan that works for you. Sometimes a treatment program is necessary. Other times, Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon meetings are a key part of treatment. Whatever it is, a counselor can help you better understand and manage alcohol in your life.
Drinking and depression often occur at the same time (or co-morbidly). Drinking may also be a way to cope with anxiety, social anxiety, or bipolar disorder. If you suffer from one of these disorders, seeking counseling for the emotional disorder can help with the alcohol problem as well.