Many people enjoy a social drink or a glass of wine with a meal. There is no harm in that, but excessive drinking could be indicative of a dependency that needs to be treated. Dependency and abuse, however, are different:
- Dependency means a need to drink regularly and an inability to do without alcohol. Attempting to stop causes withdrawal symptoms that only alcohol will alleviate.
- Abuse means drinking to excess, and binge drinking, but no cravings to drink. Abusers may have lengthy periods without alcohol between drinking sessions.
If you are concerned that your drinking is becoming or has already become a problem, then these five signs may indicate that you need to get alcohol addiction treatment:
1. You feel a strong compulsion to drink. This does not mean compulsion from peer pressure – it is a craving for alcohol that comes from within you. And, once you have had that first taste, you find yourself unable to control how much you drink. Also you become more tolerant to alcohol and need more of it to experience its effects.
2. You establish set times for taking a drink and become agitated as that time approaches or if there is no alcohol available. You also drink quickly or intentionally get drunk, as that makes you feel good or normal.
3. Drinking is affecting your life adversely. It may be harming your relationships, leading to problems at work or even creating problems with the law (drink-driving, for example, or drunk and disorderly behaviour). It also causes you to lose interest in hobbies and the like.
4. You may suffer blackouts or memory loss. You may forget conversations, miss appointments or generally forget what you have been doing.
5. You may keep alcohol in odd places at home or at work, secreted away so that no one else is likely to find it. You may also make efforts to hide your habits from friends and family and often drink alone.
Any or a combination of these signs could mean that you need help for an alcohol problem. You may not recognise these signs in yourself, you may be in denial or you may think that you can deal with the problem without help, but the fact is you may need alcohol treatment and should take steps to get it as soon as you can.
You can find help in many places – the first port of call should normally be your doctor. He or she will be able to assess your situation and refer you to alcohol treatment experts who will oversee your recovery. Be aware, though, that every treatment programme is different, because everyone’s needs are different, and there is no quick fix. You will be weaned away from alcohol and counsellors and other professional will give you advice on how to keep off it. They will also try to address the problems that caused you to turn to alcohol in the first place.
Alcohol treatment requires commitment and long-term follow-up care. There will be setbacks but with the right help and your own determination you can get back on the path to a normal life.