According to the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, the first step in recovery is admitting that we have a problem, that we are powerless over alcohol and our lives have become unmanageable because of it. This is usually the hardest step that many of us have to take. No one likes to admit that we can’t control our drinking, that we are abnormal, that we have failed at something and to say that we are, in fact, an alcoholic. It’s definitely a heavy blow to the ego but on the bright side, it also presents us with an opportunity to grow, change, and become responsible human beings. Obviously, everyone is a little different in their addictions, but there are usually 10 major signs that a person’s drinking has gotten out of control.
1. It’s No Longer About Socializing
At the beginning of our drinking careers, we usually used alcohol as a way to boost our self-confidence at a party or to celebrate the weekend. As we progress, we start to drink more and more out of necessity rather than pleasure, and we no longer care about who is with us as long as we are getting drunk. Denial is usually a huge issue with alcoholics, so when we drink alone or with other alcoholics, we don’t have the opportunity to be judged by our peers.
2. It’s Getting in the Way of Real Life
If and when the effects of our drinking start to present themselves negatively in our day to day life, it becomes an issue. Events such as calling out of work due to a hangover, getting drunk before class or the inability to save money are pretty common themes throughout alcoholics of all ages. Again, denial is common among alcoholics, and most people will try to continue their drinking, regardless of their external consequences.
3. When it Becomes a Secret
When we start to feel guilt and shame around our drinking, many of us will retreat to our homes and the dark corners of the bar to avoid the judgment and the prying eyes of others. We would prefer that our families and friends stay unaware of just how much we are actually drinking, and for women, this feeling seems to intensify, especially women with children.
4. When it Results in Frequent Blackouts
The big book makes it clear that alcoholics suffer from an allergy of the body and an obsession of the mind that results in the lack of control whatsoever over how much we consume once we start to drink. If you find that you are blacking out every time you drink, even though you started the night with the wholehearted intention of only having one or two, you might have a problem with alcohol.
5. When the Law Starts to Get Involved
Obviously, when we are drinking our inhibitions are lowered, not to mention our higher level thought processes altogether. When our drinking starts putting us in dangerous or illegal situations such as driving drunk, public urination, assaults, etc., we can pretty much bet that our drinking has gotten out of control. Not to mention, if even after we are arrested or spend the night in jail, we still see ourselves as the victim of the situation, chances are that we have a problem with our perception and we deny our part and how our drinking has affected our lives.
6. When it Starts to Mess with Relationships
For those of us with loving parents, spouses, and children who sit baffled by our behavior while drunk, it may be a little more understandable how our alcoholism affects our loved ones. However, for people who may not live near their family, the consequences of our drinking can be identified with our relationships to our pets, friends, and even ourselves. Do we disrespect, manipulate, take advantage of, or mentally/physically/emotionally abuse our loved ones while we are intoxicated? Do we always wake up the next morning and regret something we said, or not even remember how much we hurt them?
7. When Our Tolerance Skyrockets
This one is a little different for every alcoholic, as each person has a different threshold for alcohol intake, but it is definitely guaranteed that once we start consuming alcohol more and more regularly, our tolerances will increase. As our regular dose increases, our health declines. This is when people start to notice weight gain, memory loss, tremors, and blackouts.
8. When You Start Experiencing Withdrawals
After enough time of regular drinking passes, and our tolerance builds, we have to consume more and more alcohol just to feel normal. The shakes become an everyday occurrence, sleep becomes difficult, anxiety and depression, as well as nausea and migraines, become a frequent side effect. Usually, people who experience withdrawal must resort to drinking in the morning to combat the tremors, nausea, and headaches that occur if they do not have a drink.
9. When You Can’t Stop Even Though You Want to
The number one sure fire sign of an alcoholic is when the user cannot stop or control their drinking, despite the overcoming desire to do so. This phenomenon is what defines the obsession of the mind and the allergy of the body, in other words, once we take so much as one drink, the allergy kicks in and we cannot stop no matter how hard we try. The end of the drunk usually comes only after a circumstance occurs such as an arrest, a blackout, legal trouble, the loss of all money, etc, or at least that was how I drank!
10. When it Becomes the Only Escape
For most people on the planet who drink, normally or abnormally, the proposed effect is generally for a relaxing sensation. The difference between a normal drinker and an alcoholic is when drinking to relax becomes drinking to escape, or drinking for oblivion. Alcoholics often drink simply because it is the only way they know how to quiet the thoughts, the guilt, shame, and the anxiety and depression.
Seeking Treatment for Alcoholism and Addiction
If you or a loved one has a problem with alcoholism or addiction and want to experience recovery in a thriving community with lots of people just like you, then call the professionals at Stout Street today at 866-722-7040. Our trained staff is standing by to take your call and help you in any way we can. We know how difficult of a decision this can be and we know what it takes to ensure you find your own person path in recovery. You no longer have to do it alone, so give us a call today and find the happy and sober life you’ve always dreamed of.