If you enjoy a glass of wine with your evening meal or a few drinks on a Friday night, you’re not alone. But what happens when casual drinking becomes more frequent? Where do you draw the line between having a drink now and again and drinking too much? Here are some tips to help you keep drinking in check and spot the signs of alcohol addiction.
How much is too much?
If you have the occasional blowout at a friend’s birthday, it’s not going to kill you. While binge drinking is not something to promote, the odd night out shouldn’t do you much harm. However, if you drink more than recommended intake of alcohol on a regular basis, this can be very damaging to your health. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism suggests recommended daily intakes are one drink for women and two drinks for men. This may not seem like a lot, and you may be drinking too much without even realizing.
If you think you may be drinking too much, try and keep a diary for a couple of weeks. You can use apps on your phone to record how many units you consume in an average week. If the total comes out higher than expected on a regular basis, you may have a problem with alcohol.
When does a habit become an addiction?
An addiction is something we do even though we know it’s damaging. Signs of alcohol addiction include craving alcohol and turning to drink when times get hard, or you feel stressed. You may think about drinking all the time or start to lie to people close to you about your drinking habits. You may find yourself stowing away empty bottles or suffering blackouts after a drinking session.
If you can’t control your impulses or alcohol is taking over your life, it’s likely that you have an addiction. You may also notice physical symptoms. Does your body experience withdrawal signs when you don’t have a drink for a certain amount of time? Do you suffer from insomnia? Are you dehydrated all the time?
When to seek help
If you think you have a drink problem, it’s best to seek advice without delay. Your doctor should be your first port of call. There are various options available depending on the severity of your addiction and your preferences. You may find psychological therapies useful, especially if you use drinking as a coping mechanism. You may wish to research rehab centers. Or you might prefer to try medication. Sometimes, self-help methods can also be beneficial. Many people find that working out gives them a welcome distraction. It may also be helpful to spend time away from your usual haunts and groups of friends that drink on a regular basis.
Drinking in moderation won’t do most people any harm. But if the occasional drink has become a daily binge, it’s wise to seek help. It can be incredibly difficult to admit that drinking has become a problem. But this is the first step on the road to recovery. Think positively. With the right support, you’ll overcome your addiction, and you can look forward to the future.