Alcohol abuse is a widespread issue in America. However, it can be difficult to tell when someone is using alcohol as a drug of abuse and when they are simply having normal, social cocktails. Since we are constantly bombarded with admonitions to drink from advertising, friends, and even our waiters, it can be difficult to tell when we’ve crossed a line. This post will strive to clear up the difference between ordinary social drinking and alcohol abuse, including the following topics:
- Increased Tolerance
- Hidden Drinking
- Relationship Problems
One sign that one’s drinking is becoming a serious issue is when the tolerance for drink increases. That is, if it used to take one drink to relax after a tough week but now it is necessary to have two or more, there may be a budding problem on the horizon. Try to keep track of how much you are drinking and note when you are drinking to feel a greater and greater sensation from the alcohol. If you are drinking to relax after work, for instance, see how you respond to substituting a different activity with the drink. A yoga class or even a brisk walk might provide the relief you need.
If you feel that you must hide your drinking, then your drinking is surely an issue. Some will do as little as fudge about how much they had to drink – shaving off a drink or two when asked or pouring an extra-healthy glass of wine and counting that as a single drink. Some barroom drinkers will alternate the bars they frequent so that no one knows how much and how frequently they drink. Real problems begin to arise when a drinker starts to hide the empty bottles and resorts to stashing bottles in strategic places. In an extreme case, a man in Ireland dug a tunnel from his home to his favorite pub so that he could sneak out of the house while his wife slept.
If alcohol is becoming an issue in your relationships then it is time to take a closer look at your consumption. So, if drinking is often a point of argument or if problems often arise after you’ve been drinking, then it is time quit drinking for a while. If you are avoiding certain friends or family members who are mild or moderate drinkers, or if non-drinking events are of no interest, then alcohol has become too great of an issue for you. Keep in mind that moderate drinkers can take or leave a drink depending on how appropriate it is in the situation.