Am I an Alcoholic

With the popularity of alcohol continuously on the rise, constantly being promoted and the legal substance being extremely easy to get a hold of, it’s no wonder that so many people come to a crossroads at one point or another in their life and find that they have to ask the question “Am I an alcoholic?”. It’s hard to tell sometimes. Alcohol has its place in society that makes it hard to tell whether or not someone’s an alcoholic or has a drinking problem at all. You can pretty much get your hands on alcohol any time you want.

People so often get to the point where they aren’t sure where the line is crossed, perhaps because oh so many people seem to be crossing the line. There seems to be tons of information on the subject via the internet but also spread through word of mouth. There are so many different sources of information and a lot of the time tidbits and facts seem to cross each other. This can make things confusing and not add up for somebody who honestly wonders whether or not they’re an alcoholic that seeks a stable, reliable network of information. In order to sort out the confusion and mystery surrounding this question, it’s important to know what alcoholism really is especially in relation to abusing alcohol.

What Sets Alcoholism Apart From Alcohol Abuse and Binge Drinking

What exactly is alcoholism versus alcohol abuse? Alcoholism is the condition where a person doesn’t have control over their drinking habits. In other words they’ve become somewhat of a slave to alcohol. The alcoholic is at the mercy of their booze, whatever drink of their choice that may be (it doesn’t quite matter if it’s wine, beer or hard liquor).

There’s definitely a difference between alcoholism and alcohol abuse itself. Let’s look at exactly what alcohol abuse is in order to differentiate the line between the two. Alcohol abuse means that the problem drinker is consistently and often getting wasted or abusing alcohol which is leading them to problems in their life. These life problems could be things like not fulfilling their obligations or causing difficulty and disharmony in their personal relationships. Alcohol abuse can be a temporary condition though. However, it can all too easily lead to alcoholism down the line if the problem drinker doesn’t recognize that they’re abuse of alcohol is affecting their life in a negative or harmful way. If the problem drinker continues to ignore the problems which they create from drinking to excess, and don’t actively do something to rectify it ever, then over time they will develop a full-blown addiction.

The time period in which one transitions from abusing alcohol to becoming an all-out alcoholic is entirely individual. With certain people it can happen very suddenly, while with others it’s a more gradual process until they become hooked. It’s this stage, alcohol abuse, which is dramatically critical because if the person recognizes they have a problem early on then they might handle their drinking habits accordingly. If not, if they continue in denial, then they could be going down a path that’s eventually a lot harder to come out of.

An example of somebody abusing alcohol could be if they got wasted at events or during situations where it was especially inappropriate. An example of an alcoholic, in relation to this, could be if somebody continued to do this type of thing despite their behavior putting a dent on personal relationships or other aspects of their life, and in a manner where it was obvious they no longer had control over their own relationship to alcohol. It’s obvious that alcohol abuse can sneakily and easily escalate to an addiction. There’s a very high risk of developing an addiction, which is why we see plenty examples of this.

Alcohol abuse is closely related to binge drinking. Binge drinking is pretty much the same thing as abusing alcohol, but taking things to the next level. While alcohol abuse means drinking enough to get drunk, binge drinking is when the person drinks specifically five or more drinks. Binge drinking can be pretty dangerous depending on how far it’s taken.

Factors Involved With Alcoholism

There are a few factors that can lead someone to becoming an alcoholic. Genetics definitely play a big part. If alcoholism runs in the family, or there’s any history of this, it would be wise that the person be careful when dealing with their drinking habits because these people have a higher chance of becoming an alcoholic. Another factor is being associated with or part of an environment that drinks heavily or often. If you’re around alcohol a lot, or people that abuse alcohol often, this behavior can be sort of contagious in a way. Studies have shown that the habits of one’s friends are commonly taken on as one’s own (things like cigarette smoking, eating habits and in this case drinking habits). Another factor involved is stress. A lot of times the alcoholic had a problem they were burying with alcohol, which in turn lead them to even more alcohol. If the problem never gets handled, the drinking never stops if the drinking is the solution to said problem.

Warning Signs of Alcoholism

When trying to figure out whether or not you’re an alcoholic, it’s important to know some of the warning signs in order to gauge your drinking habits. An alcoholic will develop a high tolerance, cravings, a lack of control over how much they drink and will get withdrawal symptoms. Some of these withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Cold sweats
  • Shaking uncontrollably
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Having nightmares
  • Not being able to focus
  • Clammy skin

The alcoholic will fully empathize with the statement “I need a drink” on an almost daily basis. However, somebody doesn’t have to drink every single day in order to be an alcoholic. They only need to have an addiction to alcohol. As the addiction to alcohol gets bad, the person might require a large amount of alcohol in order to experience the same effects they once experienced with way less. This pattern can lead somebody down an expensive, dark habit that wreaks havoc on their health and life. Chronic conditions can come about from drinking heavily over a long period of time. Some of these conditions are things like anemia, cancer, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, seizures, depression and dementia, to name a few. This is why it’s important to not only be able to recognize alcoholism, but also to do something about it once it’s discovered.

Treating Alcoholism

Getting past denial is a crucial step in the road to recovering from an alcohol addiction. What keeps many alcoholics pinned to their booze is the inability to face what’s really going on with them. Once they can clearly spot that they’re in fact an alcoholic, then they can go ahead and be proactive. This opens the door to doing something about the drinking problem. The warning signs of alcoholism can easily be utilized in order to pull somebody out of denial, out of the mess they’re in and getting the treatment they need.

By Joyce