Many people think of alcoholics as being always drunk, but this is not always the case. Many people drink too much and struggle with alcohol-related problems, but they are not yet considered full-blown alcoholics. These people are known as problem drinkers.
Problem drinkers can be hard to identify because their drinking behavior doesn’t always fit the stereotype. They may not drink every day, and they may not always get drunk. In fact, some problem drinkers can actually hold jobs and maintain relatively normal lives while still engaging in risky drinking behaviors.
An individual is considered a problem drinker if drinking causes difficulties in any part of their life. These difficulties can include family, friends, work, school, financial, or legal problems.
This definition was absolutely true for me. I didn’t drink every day. Actually, there were days when I didn’t even think about drinking something. But, when I felt my life was hectic, uncontrolled, or full of stress, drinking something was the only thing that could calm my nerves. The problem was that after a time when something didn’t go as I wanted, I grabbed the glass.
Looking back on my past, I can now see the signs of a typical problem drinker. Of course, I was not aware of these signs at the time.
1. Drinking made me feel better
My habit was to use alcohol to relieve stress and anxiety and to feel better. Whenever I had problems, stress, free time, and wanted to feel better, I would consume alcohol.
Drinking helped me relax when I was stressed about school or work. Drinking made me feel better temporarily when I was bored. Drinking made me feel better when I was feeling down. It was an easy and quick solution to my problems.
My problem was that I suffered physically and mentally afterward. The next day, I felt guilty and had even worse feelings than before, which led to me drinking again.
2. My drinking led to feelings of guilt or shame
It was difficult for me to feel comfortable about my drinking. I felt guilty, embarrassed, and hated myself for it every time I drank excessive amounts. Honestly, I was embarrassed by what I was doing.
I did not wish for anyone to know about my addiction. Constantly, I felt that my addiction burdened my family. I felt weak, but I had no idea how to improve the situation.
3. Loss of interest in activities I used to enjoy
Over time, I lost interest in the activities I used to enjoy, such as going to the gym and reading books, even though I had been pretty successful at pumping iron. Instead, I turned to drink something. Whenever I came home from work, I opened a bottle of wine or began to drink beers.
I swallowed until I was too exhausted to do anything else. It became my way of coping with boredom and stress. Instead of doing things that used to make me happy, I turned to drink.
It is interesting to note that these activities helped me to quit drinking.
4. Despite my best efforts, I drank more than I intended
When I realized that my drinking was causing problems, I decided to start consuming less alcohol. I thought this would be easy…but it proved to be much more challenging than I expected.
Despite my efforts to limit myself, I often drank more than I had planned. I gave up on limiting myself because the feeling of not getting what I wanted forced me to drink more. It was frustrating and discouraging.
I sometimes tried to distract myself from temptation. I rode a bike, bought fewer alcoholic drinks, and read. That worked slightly better, but not as well as I had hoped.
5. Alcohol acclimatization
As someone who drinks more frequently, their body gets accustomed to the alcohol and requires more of it to achieve the desired effects. This can lead to binge drinking or even alcoholism as a result.
For some people, developing a tolerance to alcohol happens relatively quickly. They may start with just a few beers and then find that they need stronger drinks to feel the same effects.
Others may need more time for their bodies to develop a tolerance to alcohol. It is possible for them to drink socially without any negative consequences for quite a while before needing to start drinking more heavily.
I was somewhere between the two. But I definitely needed more alcoholic drinks to get the same effect. When I started, I had long beverages. Then I combined them with stronger stuff.
Overall, though, everyone’s body will become tolerant to alcohol after enough time and exposure.
6. I hid the drinks
If my wife knew how much I was drinking, she would be concerned and probably try to stop me. So, I moved my drink to a secret place, such as the garage or the closet, so she wouldn’t notice.
Hiding my drinks made me feel guilty and ashamed, but it was the solution to drink as much as I wanted without any consequences. This terrible habit became even more general when my alcohol tolerance increased.
7. My relationships, employment, and health were at risk
When I was drinking, I totally let go and didn’t care about the consequences! It was so much pleasure to just let loose and not worry about anything. I was juggling relationships, work, and health and wasn’t doing a very good job! I was putting all of them at risk.
One of the worst things about my drinking was that I did not think about how my actions affected those who were around me, particularly my wife. I was only concerned about what I could fulfill through my alcohol consumption.
8. I was trying to reduce my alcohol consumption or stop drinking altogether
The process of quitting or reducing my drinking was proving to be very difficult for me! I felt desperate to stop drinking, but I just couldn’t do it. I have never been able to go more than two weeks without drinking! Except for that one time when I was in the clinic. As soon as I got out, I began to think about how to get a drink.
Drinking became a vital part of my life. It made me feel alive and happy. I couldn’t imagine life without it.
At first, it was just something fun to do with my friends. I started using alcohol to cope with stress and problems in my life. Before I knew it, I depended on it and couldn’t imagine living without it.
To sum up
The examples, I have provided illustrate how problem drinking can manifest in various ways. Some of these symptoms are harder to detect than others, but they are all quite serious. Be aware of the warning signs to seek help if necessary. Consult your doctor or attend AA meetings if necessary. You can overcome your addiction with those who love and support you.