We are, once again, approaching that time of year when partaking in the festivities allows us to enjoy special food and drink and provides us with a much needed change in routine. However, are we mindful of our activities or do we find ourselves mindlessly ‘following the crowd’? Also, consider the rest of the year, not just the festive times. Are we mindful of our habits and behaviours?
Joel Curtis, a registered Psychologists with Endeavour Wellness has over 17 years of experience. Joel also holds a Masters’ Degree in Psychology and owns a number of private practices in Sydney and provides expert content for several national TV and Radio programmes. Here, Joel looks at the subject of casual drinking and addiction.
Casual drinking is part and parcel of social gatherings, dinner parties or weekends. However, drinking too often – and too much – can cause you to have problems. If you don’t recognise the signs of addiction early on, then it might be too late to stop. One cannot predetermine what their actions and behaviours might cause but your drinking habits are a clear indicator of where you’re heading with your drinking habit.
When it comes to drinking alcohol, there are two types of drinkers; problem drinkers and alcohol dependents, otherwise known as alcoholics. Problem drinkers don’t have a full-grown addiction to alcohol but they are likely to become dependent later on if they start drinking on daily basis.
If you or your loved one has noticed your newly found alcohol dependency then you need to look out for these warning signs for an early and timely intervention.
Alcoholics and problem drinkers deny they have a drinking problem because they can’t see their behaviour patterns objectively. Drinkers don’t discuss frankly how much, and how often, they drink and this denial makes the issue seem less severe and less significant. The denial, to admit they have a problem, is the first sign to find out where you stand in the drinkers’ category.
Drinking to Cool Off
Addicts aim to neglect their emotions for emotional reasons. They drink to ease their negative feelings, whether it’s depression, anxiety, stress or something else. Alcohol isn’t an ultimate solution as it only provides temporary relief. If you notice yourself drinking more than usual whenever you have had a bad day, then it indicates you’re using alcohol as an emotional prop and that you could be moving steadily towards addiction.
Each Plan Entails Alcohol
Weekend bar-going or pub-crawls with friends is fun but notice if all of your plans circle around alcohol. If you start to prefer alcohol over other nonalcoholic/fun activities you once enjoyed, it’s a clear sign that an addiction may be forming. You’ll start to find the things that once pleased you, now mean nothing to you compared to that of alcohol.
Falling Unconscious Frequently
Drinking yourself to blackout, or, to find yourself not able to remember what really happened before, is a clear sign that you’re drinking too much alcohol. When you or someone else notices this, ask yourself, What is causing me to drink this much? Blackouts are not supposed to be fun and are a clear indicator of a serious drinking problem.
Drinking on the Wrong Occasion
If you find yourself drinking at times when you know you shouldn’t drink, like before driving or going to work, or against doctor’s instructions, you definitely have a problem. Your inability to remain without a drink, points towards a drinking problem and a possible addiction. Drinking when you shouldn’t, and putting yourself in harm’s way, is a plain indication of an aggravating alcohol dependency.
Tolerance Towards Alcohol Consumption
The quantity of alcohol your body is able to tolerate says a lot about your alcohol addiction. If you’re drinking a lot more alcohol than you used to, it’s a clear sign that you’ve developed a tolerance and are on your way to becoming an addict! Your body has adapted itself to deal with alcohol better due to the regular exposure to it. If this is the case, you are possibly drinking way too much.
Shirking Your Responsibilities
When you start facing problems at school, at work, or with family by drinking, this has become serious. Alcohol has now clearly taken you over and is impacting your routine functioning. The occasional indulgence, you once had, has turned into a serious subject which needs professional help to break free of.
Withdrawal and hangover are two separate things. Hangover is a mere feeling of sickness after an occasional heavy drinking session whereas, withdrawal is a reaction to the lack of alcohol. Feeling distressed, tired, and irritable when you haven’t had a drink is more likely the start of the withdrawal phase. Lack of sleep, loss of appetite, shaking, and trembling are also signs of the withdrawal phase.
Relationships Seem to Fall Apart
At the extreme stage of alcoholism, problems possibly appear in relationships. When drinking is causing conflicts with your closest friends, family, or significant other – it’s now time to seek help. This is a pure indication that you have stepped into the alcoholism stage; alcohol has become your only (and supreme) priority. The alcoholism has blurred out the importance of the loved ones in your life.
and need to seek help or make lifestyle changes.
However, turning away from alcohol addiction is easier said than done. Having realized that drinking has become a problem, make a decision to turn your life around towards a better future. Don’t be afraid, because admitting that you need help will allow you to regain control of your life again.
If you’re experiencing one of these Endeavour Wellness signs it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re an alcohol dependent or a problem drinker. If you see a large amount of these signs in a loved one or yourself, there is a likelihood your drinking has reached a point of alcoholism. Reach out to your doctor or other medical specialist to get the help you need. It’s not too late!