Alcoholism is a serious problem that affects many individuals and families. In the United States, almost one in 13 adults have a problem with alcohol. That’s about 14 million people in the U.S. alone.
Alcoholism is also a problem that affects people of all ages. Many teenagers have a problem with alcohol. In fact, one study conducted by Columbia University found that more than underage drinkers account for more than 11% of the alcohol consumed in the U.S. . This is one of many disturbing teen alcoholism statistics that show how widespread alcohol abuse has become.
One of the most insidious aspects of alcoholism is that many people are suffering from it without awareness. Since alcohol is so pervasive in our culture, it’s easy to believe you are just drinking socially when you are, in fact, addicted to alcohol. In order to help you recognize the symptoms of this condition, here are 3 signs that you are an alcoholic.
1. Drinking Alcohol is Causing Problems at Home or Work
This is one of the premier signs of alcoholism. If your drinking is making it difficult to perform properly at your job (or in school), then you most certainly have a problem. This includes not being able to concentrate when you aren’t drinking or suffering from withdrawal symptoms.
In extreme circumstances, alcoholism can cause people to abandon their jobs or drop out of school. This is a case where the problem has reached the point where alcohol is the most important factor in the person’s life.
Alcohol can also have a negative impact on your relationships. If you are having difficulty getting along with your spouse, children or other people you are close to, alcohol could be one of the causes. When people cannot control their drinking, it puts quite a bit of stress on family members. Very often, people who drink heavily are not aware of how their behavior impacts others.
In order to avoid being oblivious to this sign, it’s important to listen for clues from the people around you. If friends, family members or co-workers are giving you hints that you have a problem, there’s a good chance that it’s true.
2. You Drink at All Times of Day and Cannot Control Your Drinking
Another symptom of alcoholism is the tendency to drink at all hours of the day. This isn’t to say that just because you drink only at night that you can’t be an alcoholic. Some alcoholics manage to confine their drinking to certain times of day, but very often this becomes increasingly difficult.
Drinking in the morning on a regular basis is a dependable sign of alcoholism. So is the tendency to drink alone. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have a glass of wine with dinner, even if you’re dining alone. If you drink large (or even what some might label “moderate”) amounts of alcohol when alone, however, there’s a good chance you have a problem.
The inability to control drinking is another, related issue. Alcoholics will often surreptitiously drink during work hours or in other places where it would be deemed inappropriate. The need to hide your drinking from others in this way is also a sign of alcoholism.
On the other hand, you should be careful about generalizing. If you work with, or socialize with people who drink heavily, then it might seem perfectly normal. In this case there would be no need to drink alone or be sneaky about it. Unfortunately, alcoholism can be a problem shared by friends or family as well as a solitary issue.
A sure sign that you are an alcoholic is if you drink even when you don’t want to. An alcoholic may, for example, make a personal or public vow to not drink at a certain occasion or for a certain amount of time and be unable to keep this promise.
3. You Drink More and More to Get the Same Effect
One sign of addiction (this includes most drugs, including alcohol) is that you develop a tolerance for the substance. This means that you have to consume more and more of the drug to get the same effect.
This is very easy to see with alcohol. A novice drinker will feel lightheaded from a single drink, but an alcoholic can consume many times this amount and barely feel anything. Most people are somewhere in between, but the principle is an important one to note.
Developing too much tolerance to alcohol (or any drug) is not a good thing, though it may seem like it in certain circumstances. For example, in some cultures it is considered manly to be able to “hold your liquor.” In the long run, however, what this does is encourage you to drink more and more.
The fact is, even if you have developed a tolerance for alcohol, it is still doing damage to your liver and other organs. It can also impair your judgement and make it dangerous for you to drive. Yet many alcoholics feel that they are immune to the harmful effects of alcohol. The fact that you are less sensitive to the obvious effects of alcohol doesn’t mean that it’s not affecting your body or your life. It just means that you have become desensitized to the positive effects of drinking. This can be a downward spiral that causes someone to increase their consumption of alcohol. The consequences of this can be deadly.
Be Aware of the Signs of Alcoholism
The first step to overcoming alcoholism is to be aware of the problem. Many people are willfully ignorant of the signs, either in themselves or in people they care about. This only makes the problem worse. The longer someone drinks, the more damaging it is to health, career and family.
There are many tools and resources to help you deal with alcoholism. As long as you are willing to take an honest look at yourself and find out if this is a problem for you, solutions can be found.