Drinking occasionally can be relaxing, like a glass of wine in the evening. It can be fun, such as a night out with friends. But alcohol can also become a problem when it’s relied on as a way to relieve stress, avoid problems, numb feelings, or when it gets out of hand. If you’ve recently been asking yourself, “Am I an alcoholic?”, then it might be time to determine if that’s the case or not.
What is Considered Safe Drinking?
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, women can drink up to one drink per day while men can drink up to two per day. This is considered a moderate level of drinking. Drinks include:
- 5 ounces of wine
- 8 ounces of malt liquor
- 12 ounces of beer
- a 5 ounce shot of 80-proof liquor
What is Alcoholism?
The issue with identifying whether you are an alcoholic is that society plays a significant role in creating a drinking culture that tolerates and even glorifies excessive alcohol use. Anyone who experiences concerns or troubles because of alcohol use is defined as likely having a drinking problem. This does not automatically make them an alcoholic.
According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, alcoholism affects more than 14 million people aged 12 and older across the world. Risk factors depend on many things, such as genetics, family life, social environment, and your emotional health. Young adults make up nearly 1/3 of all alcoholics. There are also functional alcoholics, those that seem just fine but still abuse alcohol. Having a family history can also make you more prone to drinking.
It is also important to note the difference between alcohol abuse, which is too much too often, and alcohol dependence, which is the inability to quit. Abuse becomes a pattern of drinking that leads to failure to fulfill responsibilities or repeated drinking that puts one in harmful physical situations. Substance abuse experts say alcohol abusers have some ability to set limits on their drinking, but their use is still self-destructive and could lead to alcoholism. But alcoholism is alcohol dependency and is an addiction and a disease that affects all areas of a person’s life.
Am I an Alcoholic?
When you abuse alcohol, you may perform poorly at work, neglect your responsibilities, continue to drink even when it’s dangerous (like when on medications), experience repeated legal problems, choose alcohol over your relationships, and drink when you need to de-stress. But with alcoholism, you reach the most severe type of drinking problem.
Alcoholism involves all the symptoms of alcohol abuse but adds in an essential element – physical dependence. Those who feel physically compelled to drink or rely on alcohol to function are considered alcoholics. There are major warning signs of alcoholism, which include tolerance and withdrawal. Other warning signs include:
- continuing to drink even when you know it’s causing problems
- wanting to quit but not being able to
- losing control over your drinking (more or longer)
- giving up on activities that used to be important to you
Why Does it Matter?
If you’re asking yourself, “Am I an alcoholic?”, then it matters. It matters because just wondering about this question means deep down you likely want help. While it may feel good to drink at the time, the effects are only harming you. You may end up with serious health complications, financial or legal problems, loss of relationships and jobs, and more.
How Can I Get Help?
To answer your question, “Am I an alcoholic?”, Alcohol Anonymous’ website has an excellent checklist to determine whether you might need to get help for alcoholism. Seeing your doctor can also be a good first step. Most doctors will use the CAGE screening, a brief, 4-question survey, to determine if you may have a problem with alcohol.
If you discover that you may be suffering from a drinking problem, no matter how severe, then reaching out to a rehab facility can be your best bet. Getting help before your alcohol use gets too out of hand can be beneficial to everyone in your life. Contact Serenity Light Recovery at 855.658.6109 or visit our website to learn more about how we can help you on your journey to recovery.