Five Warning Signs of Alcoholism

Most of us now understand that alcoholism is a disease, and no one intentionally tries to catch a disease. But the cause of alcoholism is quite readably discernable – drinking alcohol. Yet most adults drink, at least occasionally, despite this knowledge.

Why take the risk? Of course there are pleasurable feelings associated with alcohol consumption. It loosens the inhibitions and makes it easier for some to meet and talk to new people. The fact that it’s such a large precursor to such an insidious disease, well, most people are sure they don’t drink THAT much. Little do they know that they may be on the way to a bad case of alcoholism right now. One person’s social drinking is another’s first stage of alcoholism. Not only is it hard to tell who alcoholism will hit and who it won’t, but those who are being affected will do everything in their power to deny it to others, and often to themselves. This makes it even harder to diagnose.

But there are warning signs. If you’re worried about early states of alcoholism yourself, think about these things:

1. If you’re starting to be concerned about the level of your drinking, you probably should be. Even if you’re not dwelling on these types of thoughts, but they just occur to you from time to time, it’s an indication you may have an abuse problem.

2. People who know and care about you are starting to mention their concerns over your drinking. Perhaps they don’t even mention it, but you start to notice them steering you away from drinking-related activities. A sure sign of impending or current alcoholism is having had multiple run-ins with the law for alcohol-related offenses.

3. If you’re drinking socially, you may lose some inhibitions, but your personally doesn’t change. When you’re suffering from alcoholism, drinking brings about very specific mood changes. These can vary from person to person, but could take the form of silliness, happiness, depression, irritability, or even something more aggressive and dangerous.

4. Your behavior changes when drinking to the point where you do things you would never consider doing when sober.

5. You move from an occasional, social drinker, to a regular or repetitive one. If you’re drinking an amount exceeding legal limits every time you drink, and that is starting to happen more and more often, you definitely need to take a closer look at your relationship with alcohol.

From this list, alcoholism is not as far away as you thought. Plenty of people meet more than one of these five criteria, yet don’t deem themselves alcoholics. But remember, the alcoholic will deny it as long as possible. He/she may need a drink every day, meet all the criteria above, and still swear up and down that he could stop any time, but he can’t, and everyone around him knows it.

If you look at the above list and see yourself described, don’t run away. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Alcoholism is a disease of addiction, and the best single thing you can do to start on the road to recovery is join Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The addict in you will balk, but go to a meeting. Take charge. Take your life back.

2. Go to an exploratory meeting with an addictions counselor. They will help explore the path that led your to alcoholism and make you clearly see where your addiction will eventually lead you.

3. Just stop drinking. Although, fair warning, this is difficult and doesn’t work for most people. You probably need the help of counseling or AA to rid yourself of your addiction. But maybe you’re not far enough along, or maybe you ARE someone with the will power to pull it off.

4. Slow your drinking. Again, this probably won’t work; it doesn’t in most cases. However, if you’re just starting to worry about alcoholism, it’s possible you can still turn from the beginning problem stages back to the moderate social drinking you used to do.

5. If none of these work for you, check yourself into a more intense “drying out” or in-house addiction treatment.

Alcoholism is a progressive disease, and if you have the early warning signals and don’t do anything, your health, your family, your career; indeed your entire life will be adversely affected. Take action while you can!

Michael Russell
Your Independent guide to Alcoholism

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