More Americans are drinking more heavily than ever before.

Researchers have found that over the last decade, high-risk drinking, which means having four or five drinks at least one day a week, has increased by 30 percent.

Alcohol use disorders, mental health classification of people who find it hard to stop drinking even though it is disrupting their lives, have increased 50 percent.

The most startling rise in alcohol use and misuse appears to be among women.

How can you know if your drinking is within a healthy range or starting to get out of control? Here are six signs you might have a problem with alcohol:

  1. You are drinking more than the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s definition of a moderate drinker. The NIAAA finds that you are at low risk of developing alcohol use disorder if you are a woman who drinks no more than three drinks in a day and no more than seven drinks total in a week. For a man, those numbers are no more than four drinks in a day and no more than 14 drinks in a week. You might even think the NIAAA description of a moderate drinker is ridiculously strict. If you can’t imagine when a week went by when you imbibed that little, you might want to try controlled drinking to see if it works.

 

  1. You have a hard time stopping at one or two drinks once you’ve had your first. The book of Alcoholics Anonymous states that once a chronic alcoholic starts drinking, they have a phenomenon of craving, they want more and more and they cannot stop. The book goes on to say that the body has a physical allergy and that the body physically wants more alcohol.

 

  1. When drinking with others, they tell you you’re drinking too much. Are you always the first to order another round? The last to want to settle up the tab and go home? Even though this is not stated in the Big Book as a symptom of alcoholism, when you’re friends tell you it’s time to stop, or the bartender closes your tab, you might want to start asking yourself if you can control your drinking.

 

  1. You are more comfortable drinking alone where no one will judge your intake. Many alcoholics hide their drinking from others. Many alcoholics have hidden bottles around their house so their spouse won’t find them and they sneak drinks in when they can. If you are sneaking your drinking, then that is not normal.

 

  1. You’ve tried to stop alcohol for a few days or weeks and haven’t been able to meet your goal. Usually, these sort of failed attempts involves negotiation with yourself. You vow only to have two drinks a night, or only drink when you’re out, or just weekends, but before you know it, a bad day at work or a midweek birthday party tanks your resolutions. The Big Book states if when you honestly want to you, you cannot stay stopped, you are probably alcoholic.

 

  1. You often convince yourself that you deserve a drink. Do you see your evening cocktail as a reward for dealing with a difficult client, celebrating your sports team’s latest win, or just making it through another day? Often after swearing off alcohol because of a consequence, our mind will trick us and think that we deserve a drink. We also think it will be different the next time we drink. We believe we will be able to control and enjoy our drinking, even though the past has shown us how impossible this actually is for us. Despite the consequences that will follow a drink, we do it anyway because we think it will be different. This is because we have a mental obsession. We are obsessed with the idea that we can drink like a normal person. And keep in mind, this is different from physical craving. Because at this point, we have no alcohol in our bodies.

Alcohol abuse is the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the United States, killing around 88,000 people a year.

Short of fatalities, consuming too much alcohol can result in serious illnesses like liver disease and cancer, dementia, severe depression, or mental and physical breakdowns.

If you see yourself in any of the points above, you can find support at Burning Tree. Contact us to get help.

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