Have you been finding yourself unsure whether you're a social drinker or if you could have a problem with alcohol? Once your drinking becomes self-destructive, it could be time to seek treatment. There are two kinds of alcohol issues to be wary of: alcohol abuse and alcoholism.
You may be abusing alcohol if your pattern of drinking includes:
- Neglecting your responsibilities at work, school or home because you're drinking instead or are too hungover to focus on your commitments.
- Putting yourself in dangerous situations due to drinking, like regularly drinking and driving or knowingly mixing alcohol with drugs that could have serious side effects
- Getting into legal trouble due to drinking
- Continuing to drink despite it causing problems with your relationships
- Using alcohol as a regular coping mechanism for stress.
Alcohol abusers do have the ability to set limits on their drinking for themselves, whereas an alcoholic cannot. But the main difference between an abuser and an alcoholic is physical dependency. The two primary signs of dependence are tolerance and withdrawal. If you need to drink more and more alcohol in order to get the same effect that you used to, that's a sign of tolerance. Withdrawal is the effect you may feel as the alcohol wears off, like anxiety, shakiness, sweating, nausea and vomiting, mood changes, insomnia, fatigue or headaches. Drinking to stave off or "cure" these symptoms is another sign of addiction.
Other symptoms to look out for include:
- A loss of control and continuing to unhealthy drink despite not wanting to or deciding to quit
- A pattern of routinely trying to stop drinking without success
- Drinking taking up the most of your time, energy and focus over all other aspects of your life
- Not having the desire to participate in any social or community events that don't involve drinking.
Alcohol abuse isn't guaranteed to lead to alcoholism, but there is a high risk. It may develop slowly over time as your tolerance for alcohol grows, or it may be triggered suddenly. This can happen due to a stressful event like a death in the family, job loss or breakup, or it may be due to genetic predisposition. But, if you manage to acknowledge it early enough and take the right steps, this development can be prevented.
If you recognize any of these behaviors in yourself, the best next step is to discuss a plan of action with an alcohol treatment center. Since it was established in 1989 by Dr. M.K. (Khal) El-Yousef, Fairwinds Treatment Center has grown to become one of the preeminent alcohol treatment centers in the country, pioneering a specialized dual diagnosis methodology that combines clinical treatment with therapeutic counseling to uncover, address and resolve the underlying triggers for alcohol abuse and addiction.