Am I Abusing Alcohol?
If you’ve ever thought about how much you drink, if your habits are healthy or if you abuse alcohol, you’re ahead of most people. Many people abuse alcohol but avoid thinking critically about their actions or what it means.
Do You Have A Problem With Abusing Alcohol?
It’s easier to ignore potential problems with drinking, but it can also be confusing to understand what constitutes normal drinking, alcohol abuse and alcoholism. While alcohol abuse doesn’t necessarily lead to alcoholism, it can put you on that path. Learn more about what this means and find out if you abuse alcohol.
What Is Moderate Drinking?
There’s no hard and fast rule for what constitutes alcohol abuse, but there are guidelines for what’s considered to be moderate drinking. Some experts would say that anything over moderate drinking is abuse, while others would argue that this viewpoint is too extreme.
According to guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of and Human Services, moderate drinking for a woman is up to one drink per day and for a man up to two drinks per day.
What Are The Signs Of Alcohol Abuse?
Everyone is different and responds in varied ways to alcohol. Some people can drink more and be less affected. What’s more important than the guidelines for moderate drinking are the behaviors, consequences and motivations regarding your drinking. Look critically at your drinking habits for these signs of alcohol abuse:
- Your drinking causes you to neglect responsibilities – This could mean that you forget to pick up the kids from school or that you can’t drive them to activities because you are under the influence. Maybe you neglect to spend time with an elderly parent because you would rather be drinking.
- You drink to relax or to cope with negative emotions – Using alcohol to feel better is called self-medication and is a sign of abuse. The occasional drink after work to unwind is not usually a problem, but can be when it becomes a habit.
- You drink even when it could be dangerous to do so – For example, when you are about to get behind the wheel of your car or operate another type of machinery.
- You drink in spite of the problems it causes in your relationships – If your partner urges you to drink less and you don’t, or if you fight about your drinking patterns often, you are letting alcohol deteriorate your relationship.
- Your drinking causes legal problems – Such as a DUI or an arrest for behavior caused by being drunk.
What Is Alcoholism?
If you can identify any of the above signs in your behaviors when it comes to drinking, you’re abusing alcohol. It’s important not to confuse this with alcoholism.
Alcoholism means being physically dependent on alcohol. Alcoholics drink a lot every day. They can’t control how much they drink, even if they want to cut down. They feel physically sick if they can’t drink. There are big and important differences between abusing alcohol and being an alcoholic.
How To Change Your Drinking Patterns
Abusing alcohol doesn’t always lead to alcoholism. Most people who abuse alcohol can change their behaviors before it gets to that point. You have the ability to make changes now, for the better.
Enlist the support of a friend or partner and tell this person that you want to cut back. Come up with better ways to cope with stress, such as exercise or meditation. Set goals that are attainable and work toward them.
If you try these strategies and still find it hard to change your patterns, consider working with a therapist or counselor. With a little guidance you can learn to have a healthy relationship with alcohol.
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