How do you know if you are an alcoholic? One might say that just asking the question indicates something is seriously amiss. If you are suspicious that you have a problem, you probably do. At least you have one advantage over many addicts: being willing to face the possibility that you need help.
Addiction is a state whereby a person concentrates on a particular substance or activity more than is healthy. The subject (pornography, food, exercise, alcohol) is more important than a marriage, children, or a job.
It takes precedence over physical health and financial security. When a person is addicted to alcohol, he thinks about what he wants to drink and when he can next have a drink. He plans his day around this activity, even focusing on the exact time when he will get home from work (at 5:30 the bus will pull into the station; I will be home by 5:37, with my hands on a can of beer at 5:38).
While he used to think about the hug and kiss he would get from his daughters and his wife, he now imagines the feel of alcohol sliding down his throat and what sensations this will produce.
- If a daughter needs a new bike, this will not motivate him to stop drinking and save money.
- If she has to get braces, he will take out a loan and keep drinking.
- If he hits his wife, he blames the booze and begs for forgiveness, or blames her.
- If she leaves him, he believes (or tries to make himself believe) that she is ungrateful.
Physical Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction
Anyone who drinks excessively even once knows what a hangover feels like:
- He throws up during a bout of unbearable nausea, perhaps for hours, but often for a short time.
- The nausea continues, but it subsides.
- The headache might last even longer, made worse by the pressure of vomiting.
Like someone with the flu, this person trembles, struggles to regulate his temperature, is dehydrated, confused, and sleepy. He might sleep for hours before feeling like himself again. This first time is a joke: his friends rib him about it, and he chalks it up to experience, even boasting about his massive hangover.
The alcoholic experiences these symptoms, sometimes less intensely, but often to a similar extent between sessions of moderate or extreme drinking. He never boasts about them because he is hiding his condition.
Behavior of Alcoholics
An alcoholic does not necessarily consume a half-bottle of rum each night or knock back shots of gin like they are water. She could be your friend’s mother, sipping wine each night in front of the TV or while she reads, or perhaps sitting in the dark after everyone goes to bed with her tall glass of sherry. This woman does the same thing night after night. It is a necessary part of her evening, and without booze she would subside into panic.
Is this you? Do you drink regularly, but without bingeing on booze? You might still have a problem. In fact, people might have told you so and you dismissed their concerns.
Another question you might have is why you started drinking. Try to remember an earlier time when you started drinking alone:
- Why were you upset?
- Did someone recently die?
- Did a major contract come up at work which added too much pressure to your life?
Maybe your children entered puberty and started to behave like teenagers, but you could not cope. Every time you could not cope you started to drink.
Alcohol should only be consumed for short-term pleasure, not to solve problems. If you know you are drinking for this reason, you are abusing booze and need to get help. Contact a rehab hotline. An agent will indicate where rehab facilities exist in your region and which ones accept the insurance you hold.