For decades we have been told that a glass of wine or one (reasonably sized alcoholic beverage) with dinner may be beneficial to your health. So, every night when you get home from work, you pour a glass of wine or a glass of hard cider and begin the nightly ritual of unwinding from your day. Except suddenly, you realize you have had this ritual for so long you cannot remember when it started, and you begin to wonder-am I an alcoholic?
According to a 2017 article in Men’s Health Magazine, a drink each night doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to become (or are) an alcoholic. There is very little medical evidence to show one drink has a negative impact on your health or increases your chances of developing an alcohol use disorder. However, it is essential to address and adhere to limitations.
Definition of an Alcoholic
According to the National Institutes of Health, over fourteen million adults in the United States currently have alcohol use disorder. Unfortunately, only about half of those will ever seek or receive addiction treatment. Alcoholism (more commonly referred to as an alcohol use disorder) is a condition in which you experience the desire or physical need to consume alcohol, regardless of the detrimental impacts it has on your life. When someone has an alcohol use disorder, they do not know when or how to reduce the control alcohol has on their lives. They are unable to control how much they consume, when they consume and, in many cases, become blind to the problems drinking causes at home, at work, and financially.
How to Establish if You Are an Alcoholic
While one typically goes hand in hand with the other, there is a difference between alcohol dependence and addiction. One can become dependent on many things as part of your daily routine (i.e., coffee or exercise), but that doesn’t necessarily indicate addiction. When any part of your everyday routine is disrupted or altered, it is not uncommon to feel irritable and edgy (hallmark symptoms one experiences in early alcohol withdrawal), but it is not an indication of a “disorder.” When trying to establish if you have an alcohol use disorder, it is important to look for certain signs and symptoms such as:
- A family history of alcoholism-especially a first-degree relative such as your mother or father.
- Using alcohol as a coping mechanism to alleviate stress or other physical symptoms.
- Not being able to limit your alcohol consumption
- New or worsening difficulties at home, work, or within your social circles
- Needing to consume more and more alcohol to feel the effects that one drink used to provide
- Feeling acute withdrawal symptoms if you do not drink. Some examples of these may include nausea, sweating, or shaking (DT’s).
While this list is by no means exhaustive, it provides a starting point for things to consider. Alcohol consumption evolves into an alcohol use disorder when getting and consuming alcohol takes precedence over anything and everything else. If you are concerned that you may be an alcoholic, reach out to your primary care provider. He or she can talk to you about your symptoms and the severity of your drinking to determine the next steps regarding alcohol addiction treatment.
How to Treat Alcoholism
The first step towards recovery is the ability to acknowledge you have a problem with drinking. The next step is to contact an addiction treatment center specializing in treatment for alcohol addiction (including medically assisted detox) such as Bayshore Retreat. While one can detox and get sober alone, it is highly suggested that you seek help from a facility that can help monitor the detox process. Alcohol detox can produce intense, sometimes life-threatening symptoms, making it difficult to go through detox on your own. Unfortunately, many who try relapse eventually. Addiction treatment programs can provide essential medical support during the early recovery stages. Once detox is complete, programs like those here at Bayshore Retreat provide therapy and education (such as learning new, healthy coping skills) to help you maintain long term sobriety after treatment has ended. If you are ready to seek treatment for alcohol addiction, contact Bayshore Retreat today.