Having a drink with friends or looking forward to a cold beer after a long day of work is normal. Alcohol has long been a shared social event or substance used to unwind and relax. However, there’s a fine line between being a casual drinker and becoming dependent on alcohol, and sometimes that line is hard to see.
Here are five signs that you’re starting to develop an alcohol dependency to help you build self-awareness about how you imbibe.
Alcohol is Causing You to Neglect Responsibilities
Every so often in your adult life, you might celebrate a little too hard and end up spending the next day in bed, unable to do the things you were meant to do. There’s a significant difference between it happening occasionally and happening regularly.
If your drinking is starting to interfere with your ability to keep commitments or accomplish the tasks you had set out to do, it’s becoming a problem. This means either directly– spending time drinking instead of addressing your responsibilities– or indirectly via a hangover. When this starts to become a regular occurrence, it’s time to start investigating where you can get treatment.
Everyone has heard it before; that sigh followed by “I need a drink” after a difficult day. However, there’s a significant difference between feeling like having a drink and craving one. If you feel yourself craving a drink or unable to refuse one, it’s a sign that you’re starting to develop a dependency. This isn’t something that usually afflicts someone who has a couple of drinks on the weekend with their friends; this is an issue that starts to become persistent throughout the week.
Drinking daily is a sign of a developing dependency. Even a glass of red wine with dinner each night, while it’s well within the limits of what health officials recommend, is habitual behavior. While it might not be a problem for now or for years to come, it will make it easier for that one glass to become two, three, and so on.
Risky or Damaging Behavior
If you are prone to engage in damaging or risky behavior while drinking, yet you don’t stop drinking, you are developing a dependency that could have severe consequences. Risky behavior could include something like driving under the influence because you thought you were fine. Damaging behavior could be fighting with a spouse while intoxicated.
If you find yourself behaving uncharacteristically, it’s time to step away from drinking before someone gets hurt– emotionally or otherwise.
While there are certainly signs of alcohol dependency when drinking with a group, starting to drink alone is a sign that your alcohol consumption is becoming a problem. Again, this doesn’t refer to a woman who will occasionally have a glass of red wine in her bubble bath while relaxing. This sign refers to those who get drunk alone. At this point, it’s not a treat or a shared social activity; it’s a problem.
If you find yourself drinking alone frequently, it’s important to examine this behavior. If your drinking is often tied in with negative emotions or is the only way you are able to relax and disconnect, there’s a deeper problem.
People who have control over their drinking are able to set limits and adhere to them. Their one drink is just one drink. If you partake in binge drinking or drink enough to lead to memory loss, you are not in control; you are in denial.
If you notice some of the signs on this list making themselves apparent in your daily life, it’s time to make a change. If you are unable to simply stop drinking, reach out to a professional for help. It’s better to make a change now than to let an alcohol dependency take hold.