Recognizing the Signs of a Drinking Problem

Ask the average person to describe the differences between a social drinker and an alcoholic.

Most often, one will hear an alcoholic defined as “someone who needs to drink every day.”

Pose the question to a daily drinker, that individual is likely to say that an alcoholic is someone whose drinking is worse than their own habit, such as a person who has to have a drink first thing in the morning or who has to drink all day.

Experts will tell you these are the warning signs that you have an alcohol problem:

  • Drinking alcohol in response to one’s mood, or to cope with stress (referred to as relief drinking)
  • Using alcohol to relieve pain or help oneself sleep.
  • Engaging in risky behaviors, such as driving after drinking (please note: impairment begins with the first drink, even if the person is under the “legal limit” of 0.08% BAC.
  • The person has experienced alcohol-related legal problems.
  • Close friends and family are starting to be concerned about alcohol use.
  • A person begins looking forward to that first drink, whenever it may be.
  • The person is setting “rules” for himself or herself about when or how much to drink, an example might be saying one will “only drink on weekends” or “never before five o’clock”.
  • They are breaking their own rules about drinking: “Well, it’s five o’clock somewhere in the world.”
  • It takes more alcohol to get the same effect, e.g. needing more drinks to get the “buzz”

But according to the book Alcoholics Anonymous, there are only two real symptoms of alcoholism. The first is that you drink way more than you intended. The second is that you cannot stay stopped.

Alcoholism is a medically recognized and very treatable disease that can have devastating consequences without early and appropriate treatment. No one can diagnose you.

You must honestly look at your own drinking and determine if you need help. Alcoholics Anonymous makes it simple for you.

Can you stay stopped? Do you drink way more than you intended? If you answer yes to either of these, it might be time to take into consideration that you could be an alcoholic.