How Can I Tell if I Have a Drinking Problem?

Chances are, if you are concerned enough about your behavior to ask if you have a drinking problem, you probably have a problem. But the type and severity of that problem is not as easily ascertained.

Read on to learn more about how to determine what type of alcohol-related challenge you are facing — and what type of treatment can help you overcome this obstacle:

Your question may have been prompted by a bad drinking experience. If so, you’re not alone:

  • Lots of people have negative experiences.
  • Those experiences only become a problem if they don’t dissuade you from drinking.
  • If you continue using alcohol despite negative consequences, there’s a problem and you need to get help.

If people in your life have expressed concern, take note:

  • Raising concerns about drinking is awkward and intimidating, so if friends or family members are willing to take the risk and raise the topic, there’s likely a reason for it.
  • This doesn’t mean that you’re an alcoholic, but you may be abusing alcohol, and that requires attention, too.
  • If you’ve told yourself that you’re going to stop drinking — or that you’re going to control your drinking and not get drunk — but you go back on your decisions the moment the opportunity arises, your actions fit the criteria for alcohol abuse.
  • This is a good time to get help, because your habits haven’t yet progressed to alcoholism.

If, however, you find yourself getting agitated, feeling sick, or breaking out in cold sweats when you abstain from drinking, you have progressed to alcoholism — and you absolutely need to seek treatment as soon as possible. This is also true if you can’t control your cravings for alcohol.

If you’re still unsure whether or not your drinking is a problem, there are two things you can do:

  • First, you could simply stop drinking. If your habits are worrisome enough to raise questions, it’s best to just quit.
  • The other option is to talk with a medical professional, someone who has experience with alcohol abuse and alcoholism. Explain the reasons why you are concerned, and be completely honest about your drinking habits. Your doctor will help you determine whether or not there’s a problem.

By all means, please don’t feel embarrassed about asking your doctor about your use of alcohol. Taking this important step takes courage, and a high level of self-awareness — thus, if anything, you should be proud of your willingness to address this matter with a qualified professional.

If more people were willing to ask these hard questions and take these potentially intimidating steps, fewer people would suffer the devastation that is caused by alcohol abuse and alcoholism.

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