How much alcohol is too much? National health guidelines suggest not drinking more than 14 units per week (for men and women). That’s about 6 pints of average strength beer – or 7 medium glasses of wine.
Of course, some people are able to drink more than this and function perfectly fine, whilst others may drink less than this and still end up doing harm to themselves or others. This is because alcohol affects us all in different ways – some people may only need one or two glasses to start experiences changes in behaviour.
Identifying a drinking problem isn’t easy. Most of us don’t like to admit that we drink too much, especially if drinking is something that we look forward to. However, tackling the problem could be important for the safety of yourself and others.
To help determine whether you have a drinking problem, here are seven signs to look out for.
You’re damaging your health
Drink-related health issues are an obvious sign that drinking has become a problem. Extreme examples of health issues that can stem from drinking include liver disease, brain damage or heart disease. Other health problems could include digestive problems, impotence and dental issues as a result of drinking. Then there are mental health problems such as depression, anxiety or paranoia. You should get these problems diagnosed by a medical professional to ensure that they are alcohol-related. If they are related, you’ll usually be advised to cut down or quit drinking to help cope with the issue.
On top of these long-term health problems, there are also more immediate injuries that can occur from drinking. If you regularly fall over and hurt yourself when intoxicated, this could also show that drinking is putting you in danger – especially if these falls result in hospital visits. Other sources of drunken injuries to be wary of include getting into fights, having a driving accident or mishandling home appliances/tools.
You’re acting aggressively towards other people
If you start to act aggressively to others when under the influence, this too could be a sign that you have a drinking problem and that you need to cut down. This could include physical or verbal aggression.
Alcohol can often remove people’s inhibitions – if you have lots of rage built up inside you as a result of various problems in your life, alcohol may cause this aggression to all come flooding out. In other cases, people can witness an entire change of personality when intoxicated, which may cause them to act uncharacteristically angry. In both cases, drinking less and potentially talking to a counsellor could be worthwhile.
You’re getting into legal trouble
Another sign that you could be drinking too much could be that you’re constantly getting into legal trouble whilst under the influence. You may have found yourself prosecuted for drink driving and may have even lost your license because of drinking. Alternatively, you may be getting into fights or turning to theft or vandalism when intoxicated.
Because alcohol removes people’s inhibitions, many people lose respect for the law when they have been drinking. This can have serious repercussions – a criminal record could affect your ability to do many things in the future such as getting a job or even taking out a mortgage or insurance. For this reason, you should think about cutting back on your drinking habit to avoid further illegal activities.
You’re neglecting important responsibilities
Drinking can also become a problem if you’re neglecting important day-to-day responsibilities. This could include failing to turn up to work on time or forgetting to pick the kids up from school.
Maintaining these responsibilities could be important for keeping relationships with the people closest to you. It could also be important for the safety and wellbeing of others. Cutting down on the amount you’re drinking could allow you act more responsibly.
Once you start drinking, you can’t stop
For some people, every chance to drink can turn into a wild binge session. It’s important that you understand the appropriateness of the occasion – if it’s a work event or a first date, you want to be able to pace yourself so that you don’t embarrass yourself. Even if it’s a big night out, you should still know your limits – a night out shouldn’t always end with you passed out or being sick in a toilet bowl.
In the case of this type of drinking problem, abstaining from alcohol completely in certain situations could be important.
You’ve tried to cut down – but you can’t
Being unable to cut down on alcohol is a sign that addiction has taken hold. If you’ve tried to give up or cut down, but you find yourself craving that next glass and are unable to resist your urges, it could be a sign that you’re mentally unable to cope without alcohol. It could even be a physical addiction – some people feel nauseous, start sweating and get the shakes when not drinking.
In such cases, you may need some sobriety motivation to remove the positive association you have with drinking. If it’s more of a physical addiction, you may want to see a medical professional and see if there is a way of slowly weaning yourself off alcohol. You could also look into checking in to a rehab clinic. On top of this, there are many support groups where you can talk to others going through the same struggle, helping you to build a sense of team motivation.
You’re spending all your money on alcohol
Spending all your money on alcohol could also be a sign of a problem. If you’re getting yourself into debts or unable to pay for fundamental expenses such as food and rent due to your drinking habit, it shows that there’s a clear problem going on. These money problems could affect everything from your relationship with others (if you’re constantly borrowing money off people to feed your habit) to your health (if you’re not eating properly in order to fund your drinking habit).
Start cutting down the amount of alcohol you’re buying and see the difference it makes to your financial situation and quality of life.