I drink too much – What do I do?
Drinking: Is it an issue in my life?
From personal experience, I had to face this question and have talked with hundreds of others who have faced it. If you’re like me, you may be asking yourself these questions:
- Is drinking a problem for me?
- Where can I find help if I want an answer?
- Am I an alcoholic?
Chances are, if your asking yourself these questions, drinking is a problem. That is the simple answer to your question.
To what degree is drinking a problem?
To find out if you have a problem with alcohol, stop drinking for two or three months. If you believe alcohol is having a negative impact on your life; then give it up today! If you can do this without thinking about (and likely wanting to) drinking, your likely OK. But if you can’t, you’ll want to dig deeper.
A promise; if you’re alcoholic and don’t address the issue, I promise it will keep on getting worse. If you haven’t started losing things (including your self-respect) yet, it is just a matter of time. If you’re wondering how alcoholism affects children, it can simply be devastating. Not to mention the physical nature of alcohol problems. In fact, if you’ve become physically dependent on alcohol, alcohol withdrawal syndrome is no easy period.
But, you see, there is nothing wrong with reasonable drinking for a vast majority of people. Plus, there are crises in life where drinking, even in excess, happens. In my profession, I do not think drinking is bad for all. (It is for me; I’ve proven this). Additionally, there are people who are heavy drinkers for a myriad of reasons, but can stop at will.
As noted, excessive drinking could be situational; there are some who claim to love the taste and others where it is just lifestyle. While heavy drinking may indicate unaddressed issues and is likely bad for your health, it does not make you an alcoholic (a sigh for some).
However, alcoholism is a disease, and a progressive one. Booze affects alcoholics far more as we get older and many come to use alcohol regularly as a “mood altering substance”.
Drink too much? Now what?
If you thinking that you drink too much and this poses a problem, either/or mentally or physically, reach out and get help; talk with a professional who understands. Here are some suggestions for how to evaluate or assess your drinking.
1. Johns Hopkins University has published likely the best quick test for alcoholism. You can find it on my web site and many others and in AA material. All it requires is your honesty!
2. A quick chat with an addictions expert, usually at no charge, can give you answers and feedback. It is a route more should explore.
3. Talk with your primary physician. Doctors can administer basic assessment for alcoholism and refer you to local resources that can help.
Ultimately, only you can determine whether drinking is a problem in your life. We can help you see reality and map a plan for recovery from this dreaded disease. But you’ve got to take the first step.
Photo credit: NIAAA