Most people go out and have a drink every now and then, while others occasionally drink to excess. But how do you know when “casual drinking” has turned into something more — like a serious alcohol use disorder (AUD)? As it turns out, even mild symptoms that may seem perfectly harmless can indicate an existing or imminent issue. Read on for a closer look at five signs of a possible drinking problem.
1. You sometimes end up drinking more (or for a longer period of time) than you plan to
Alcohol use disorder is defined by the NIH’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as “a chronic relapsing brain disorder characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.” If you find yourself imbibing past the point that you intended to, this may indicate the loss of control characterized by an AUD.
On a related note, if you’re spending a lot of time drinking, or dealing with the after-effects of drinking, this may also be a symptom of an AUD.
2. You’ve wanted to (or tried to) cut back on or stop drinking completely, but have been unable to follow through
If the decision of whether or not to drink feels like it’s outside of your control, this is a warning sign that you may have a problem, as set forth in the NIH’s definition of an AUD.
The same applies to cravings. If you feel the strong need to drink, and if this urge interferes with your personal or professional commitments, or requires you to give up on activities and events you previously enjoyed, you may have a drinking problem.
3. You find yourself in situations where you have a greater risk of getting hurt after drinking
From getting behind the wheel to having unsafe sex, putting yourself in dangerous situations during and after drinking can demonstrate impaired decision-making and disregard for potentially serious consequences.
This also applies to other situations and people. For example, if drinking is interfering with you or your ability to safely and responsibly attend to your job, family, home, and other commitments.
4. You’ve had to increase the number of drinks you consume to reach the desired effect
If you have to drink more to get your usual buzz, or if the usual number of drinks isn’t having the same effect it’s had in the past, this may indicate that you’re developing an AUD.
5. You’ve experienced symptoms of withdrawal when the effects of alcohol start to dissipate
If you experience symptoms like difficulty sleeping, irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, shakiness, nausea, or sweating when alcohol starts to wear off, this is a sign of an AUD.
The good news? The sooner you notice these symptoms in yourself, friends, or family members, the sooner you can start taking steps to reduce the risk of developing an AUD, including seeking treatment, which can significantly improve an individual’s chances of recovery.
Enter Harris House. A leading St. Louis area drug rehab for more than 50 years, Harris House offers individualized drug and alcohol treatment aimed at helping addicts regain control of their lives toward lasting sobriety. Contact us today to learn more about how Harris House can help you or someone you love overcome an AUD.