Most alcoholics spend many years in denial about their addiction to alcohol. Their standard rationalizations include:
- I don't drink that much.
- I just enjoy my cocktail(s) at the end of a hard day
- I can quit any time I want to.
When one knows what signs to look for, it's not very difficult to recognize alcoholism in others or in one's self. Here are some of the clues:
PSYCHOLOGIC DEPENDENCE AND LOSS OF CONTROL
- The feeling that one needs to have a drink at certain times or under certain conditions and the anticipation of severe distress if alcohol is not available.
- An uncontrollable urge to continue drinking once one begins on any given occasion (drinking beyond intention).
- Life becomes centered around drinking
- An inability to stop or control drinking (without therapeutic intervention)
- Continued use despite adverse consequences or warning to stop by physicians or substance abuse professionals.
Evidence of Psychological Dependence on Alcohol or Loss of Control
- When you begin drinking, are you in a hurry for the first drink? (Gulping drinks)
- Do you wish to continue drinking after your friends have had enough?
- Have you felt "remorse" after drinking?
- Do you often drink more than four drinks a day and feel ill at ease when you don't?
- Do you ever start out to just have two or three drinks and wind up drunk when you do not intend to? Do you find that you cannot predict how much you will drink after your first drink on a social occasion?
- Do you ever promise yourself that you'll stop drinking or slow down and then break that promise?
- Do you drink more heavily when you are under pressure or after a disappointment or quarrel?
- Do you require a drink the next morning to calm your nerves?
- Have you had to promise someone close to you that you will "cut down" on your drinking?
- Have you begun to prefer to drink alone?
- Have you had more than one bender in the past six months?
- Do you use tranquilizers during periods of time when you are unwilling or unable to drink alone?
You have a problem with alcohol if you are drinking enough that it is beginning to cause problems with:
- YOUR WORK
- YOUR PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS
- YOUR HEALTH
If you suspect that you (or someone close to you) may be an alcoholic, there is plenty of help available. The first step to getting a drinking problem under control is to take a look at the Alcoholics Anonymous web site where you will learn that you are not alone. Then take the next step and
GO TO AN AA MEETING
After all, what have you got to lose? The worst thing that could happen is that you might decide AA isn't for you. In order for AA to help, you must be willing to acknowledge that you have a problem with alcohol and you must want to begin dealing with it. Members of AA say, "AA isn't for people who need it, it's for people who want it."
Why not go to a meeting just once If you're really ready to admit that you have a drinking problem and want to do something about it, you'll identity with some of the people there whose backgrounds are similar to yours; and you'll begin to understand the strength you can find within yourself through the AA "Twelve Step Program".
YOU'RE NOT ALONE
Anyone can become an addict, even doctors. Click here to read about the ongoing recovery of a physician whose life was almost devastated by her addiction to pain medications and alcohol.