Is your casual “wine time” with friends going a bit too far? Maybe those occasional cocktails over the weekend are extending into your weekdays. Or perhaps you’re hiding your drinking from the people in your life. Having a periodic drink is one thing, but if your alcohol consumption is becoming a concern, you might be asking yourself, “How do I know if I’m an alcoholic?” Below, we’ll help you assess whether or not alcohol is an issue that requires deeper attention.
What Is Alcoholism?
Tough questions like, “Am I an alcoholic?” speak volumes to your level of self-awareness. But how do you determine if your alcohol use has become (or might lead to) a legitimate problem?
Today, the modern mental healthcare industry refers to alcoholism as “Alcohol Use Disorder” (AUD). No matter what it’s called, alcoholism is the fourth-leading cause of death in America today. It’s marked by an inability to control or stop alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences. It involves physical dependence, tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms.
Having said that, we want to also address what alcoholism isn’t. It is not a weakness and has nothing to do with a lack of willpower. Alcoholism is a genuine mental health condition that requires professional help to restore, recover, and reestablish a healthy balance in your life.
Am I an Alcoholic? Key Indicators of Alcoholism
So: how to know if you are an alcoholic? Here are some common indicators that alcohol is becoming a problem in your life:
- Increased Tolerance: Needing more alcohol to feel “drunk” or the desired effects.
- Withdrawal Symptoms: Experiencing physical symptoms like shaking, sweating, nausea, or anxiety when not drinking.
- Loss of Control: Finding it difficult to limit the amount of alcohol you consume.
- Neglecting Responsibilities: Alcohol takes precedence over work, family, and other obligations.
- Spending a More Time Drinking or Recovering: Alcohol becoming a central part of your daily routine.
- Continued Use Despite Negative Consequences: Drinking even when it leads to physical harm or affects relationships.
- Giving Up Important Activities: Abandoning hobbies or social events to drink.
Casual Drinking vs. Alcohol Abuse: Understanding the Difference
Alcohol abuse is marked by a pattern of excessive drinking regardless of unwanted outcomes to your health, relationships, or responsibilities. As defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heavy drinking, which often signals alcohol abuse, is consuming 15 or more drinks per week for men, and 8 or more drinks per week for women. Casual drinking, on the other hand, typically involves consuming alcohol in moderation, with little to no consequences. Around 3 drinks or fewer per week is considered casual drinking.
More than the quantity of alcohol you’re consuming, the quality of your life and your relationship with alcohol can also help determine casual drinking vs. alcohol abuse. For instance, if you find yourself thinking about drinking an inordinate amount of time, making excuses for excessive drinking, or rearranging your life in order to drink, these could be indications of alcoholism.
Different Types of Alcoholics
Alcoholism manifests in various forms, and understanding the different types can help you address those nagging questions, like “How do I know if I’m an alcoholic?” Broadly, alcoholics are often categorized into several types:
- Young Adult Alcoholics: Typically in their late teens to mid-20s, often engage in binge drinking, but may not drink regularly.
- Functional Alcoholics: Usually middle-aged, successful individuals who manage to maintain their professional and personal lives while struggling with their addiction.
- Intermediate Familial Alcoholics: Often have a family history of alcoholism, and their drinking might be steady or episodic.
- Chronic Severe Alcoholics: Represent a smaller yet more severe group, often grappling with extensive drinking histories and co-occurring mental health issues.
Understanding the Causes of Alcoholism
How to know if you are becoming an alcoholic requires self-honesty and personal reflection. It may also help to understand the causes of alcoholism.
Genetic Factors: Research suggests that genetics can play a major role in an individual’s likelihood of developing alcoholism. If a close family member struggles with alcohol dependence, the risk is higher.
Psychological Factors: Mental health conditions like PTSD, depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder can increase the risk of alcoholism. Often, individuals may use alcohol as a means to self-medicate.
Social and Cultural Factors: Peer pressure, societal norms, and cultural attitudes toward alcohol consumption can influence one’s drinking habits.
Stress and Trauma: People often turn to alcohol to cope with stress, trauma, or adverse life events. Over time, this can lead to dependence.
Early Exposure: Early and frequent exposure to alcohol in the family or social environment can increase the risk of developing alcohol-related problems later in life.
Is it Time to Seek Help for Alcoholism? When to Know
Many clients ask us, “How do I know if I’m becoming an alcoholic? Every person and situation is different, but if alcohol is becoming increasingly problematic in terms of how you live your life, it might be time to talk to a trusted friend, family member, or a professional. At The Ohana, we can help you get treatment for alcoholism and live a life of recovery.
What’s Next? Finding Relief and Restoration at The Ohana
Facing alcohol use with brutal honesty takes courage, but it also takes objectivity, which can only come from talking to someone who knows about the complexities of alcoholism. That’s where the experts at The Ohana can help you shine a light on this baffling condition. Our luxury alcohol rehab provides hope, healing, and the promise of a freer, happier life without the fears or concerns that go hand-in-hand with alcoholism.
Don’t let needling questions like, “How do I know if I’m an alcoholic?” continue to plague you. Your relationship with alcohol doesn’t have to take over your life. If you have doubts or concerns about alcohol use in your life, we’re here to help. Contact us today, and we can guide you through the admissions process.