How Do I Know if My Alcohol Use Is a Problem?

Written by: Lynn Finnell, LMFT, LAADC | Reviewed by: Christian Small, MD

How Do I Know if My Alcohol Use Is a Problem?

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    Alcohol use dates back centuries and centuries. Originally alcohol was used for medical purposes, rituals, and more. However, these days alcohol is most popularly utilized for pleasure. In today’s society, it is highly common for someone to have a drink from time to time. Whether it be socially or a post-work daily ritual, people often drink to relax and unwind.

    Sometimes this unwinding can end in a night of fun that prompts a much-needed slumber. On the other hand, it can lead to reckless thoughts and behavior. The thin line between light fun and overconsumption is where the question of your alcohol use being a problem lies. 

    However, that defining moment of realizing your alcohol consumption is an issue ushers you into your journey to seek help. Not everyone can drink without it becoming a problem, and that is okay. Normalizing this realization can enhance the number of people questioning whether alcohol use is a problem and being motivated to do something about it. 

    Paying Attention to Your Alcohol Use

    When you find yourself drinking, is it daily? Are you drinking amongst others or alone? Is your alcohol use so visible that it is noticeable to others? If you answer yes to any of these questions, you may have an alcohol use problem. Consider why you drink when you find yourself drinking alcohol. Even if you only drink socially, if you feel the need to drink in every social setting, that can signify something more.

    The Problem With Escaping Reality

    Alcohol offers a sense of escape. Sometimes, an escape such as reading or watching TV is needed to recharge after a long day. However, a constant need to escape means something may be wrong that needs to be addressed. For instance, when your alcohol use becomes so consistent that you are attempting to stay in a state other than reality, you likely have a problem.

    Alcohol can be all fun and games until you find yourself waking up with the inability to move. Or when you only had a few drinks but still were in an accident because you thought you were “okay enough” to get behind the wheel. These reckless behaviors are clear indicators that you are drinking much more than you should.

    Coming to Terms With Your Alcohol Use

    Have you ever heard someone say they feel more like themselves when drinking? This is often due to alcohol dependency that many do not even realize has taken place in their lives. If life has seemingly become easier to live the more you drink, you have likely become dependent on the feeling that alcohol provides you. This is when you can truly begin to know that your alcohol use has, without a doubt, become a problem.

    For example, if you have to drink first thing in the morning or before you leave the house to go anywhere, then it is safe to say that you have an issue with alcohol. Because alcohol is so socially accepted, it can be hard to settle into knowing that you have a problem. It can be even harder to acknowledge an alcohol use problem when others around you exhibit the same behaviors and relationships with alcohol.

    Being Honest With Yourself for Yourself

    Regardless of what the drinking world looks like around you, you must accept your own reality. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), only 1.4% of people who needed treatment received treatment. Many do not realize that they have a problem, even with the signs present that they do. 

    If you have an issue with the overconsumption of alcohol, you have to address it, or it will get worse. Alcohol addiction is one of the deadliest diseases known to man. Alcohol can, unfortunately, kill you from the inside out. It can even be catastrophic to your bank account, relationships, and much more. Taking action and seeking help is the best way to prevent alcohol from destroying your life.

    Seeking Treatment for an Alcohol Use Problem

    When finding out that you have an alcohol use problem, it can be hard to know where to start in the process of getting help. The best first step is to do your research and find out what may work best for you. 

    There are a plethora of options for getting help with alcohol addiction. Two of the most common options for treatment are 12-Step programs or inpatient rehab. 12-Step programs provide a sense of community and accountability for those who attend and join. Inpatient rehab usually offers a minimum of 28 days, resources to stay sober, and an education process to return to a world where drinking is normal once you complete it. However, these options are not necessarily for everyone. 

    Each path to getting help and seeking treatment is different. While 12-Step programs can offer a spiritual approach, some may not want to go to meetings. That may be an environment that works more as a trigger or discomfort than one that offers help. 

    Treatment does not just help you stop drinking but essentially offers ways to find a healthier path forward. This is why it is essential to find a source of treatment that makes the most sense for you. The reasons you started drinking excessively may remain after treatment. However, knowing you have a problem and doing something about it is the foundation of freeing yourself and changing your life for the better.

    Understanding the difference between a healthy and unhealthy relationship with alcohol is essential. However, it is not always easy to spot an alcohol use problem when it exists in your own life. Usually, if you have to question it, you more than likely show signs of alcohol addiction. You do not have to answer this on your own if you are unsure. Villa Oasis San Diego provides resources that can help you determine if you have an issue and offer ways to address it. If you are in need of some guidance in understanding your relationship with alcohol and what you can do to change it, call Villa Oasis today at (323) 739-8673.

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