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Like most adults I like the occasional alcoholic drink, but when does it become too much?
Everyone drinks for different reasons—some do it socially, others to relax, and some do it through dependency. The line between acceptable consumption and overdoing it is very easy to cross. Most people fail to recognise if they have crossed that line.
10. You regularly crave alcohol.
It's Monday afternoon, you are stuck at work, bored in a meeting, and the only thing you can think about is that in a matter of hours you will be able to unwind with a bottle of beer or a glass of wine. This is an early red flag.
Having a drink to unwind is not a bad thing, nor is it something you should consider a warning sign but if the only way you can get through the day is by thinking about that evening drink, it could be a sign of a problem on the horizon.
9. You have a high tolerance.
Some people naturally have a high tolerance for alcohol so this point may not apply to everyone. However, if you have a much higher tolerance now compared to when you first started drinking, that could be a cause for concern.
The more you drink, the more your body has adapted to accommodate your consumption which means your tolerance increases. Essentially your brain is functional to counterbalance the disruption alcohol causes on your body. The result of this means you need to drink more each time you drink, to get the same buzz.
8. You use it as a coping mechanism.
I get it, we all have bad days. We occasionally get bad news and to soften the blow we will have a drink. It's just what we do. Unfortunately, this is unhealthy and could lead to an alcohol dependency.
Brains condition themselves based on a reward response so if your brain is used to feeling better after a drink, your brain will choose that as your coping mechanism. This is incredibly unhealthy and I would suggest trying alternative coping methods such as exercise or writing.
7. Your friends and family are concerned.
Usually your friends and family will notice the problem before you. They may call you out on it and tell you that you will need to cut down. This advice should be listened to—your friends and family want the best for you.
You may initially be frustrated or confused by them mentioning this as you may feel attacked. Don't. If they suggest concern, take the concern on board.
6. You need alcohol to have a good time.
It is okay to use alcohol to enhance a meal or a party. That's a big part of why people drink. The problem starts when the only way to have fun is by consuming alcohol.
You will start noticing this when you begin to need to be drunk to enjoy activities that you might have previously enjoyed without any influence. Or if you consider a night out a bad night based on the fact that you weren't drunk.
It's Sunday morning and you've woken up with a horrible headache. What happened last night? You have no idea. This is a serious sign of too much alcohol.
Alcohol interferes with receptors and it means your brain can't send messages the way it normally would. It alters the chemical reactions. The spike in blood-alcohol content causes this, meaning you've had too much to drink.
4. You miss work due to a hangover.
Once alcohol starts interfering with your responsibilities, you should re-evaluate some of your choices.
There's no denying that hangovers are unpleasant and I understand why someone with a hangover would not want to be stuck in the office but you need to take responsibility for your actions. If you know you suffer bad hangovers, don't drink on the night before work.
3. You lie about your intake.
Have you ever filled out a doctor's form where they ask how many units of alcohol you drink? Do you answer that honestly?
If you don't then that can be a clear sign you do drink too much and you are aware of this. You are embarrassed or concerned by your intake. If you recognise you drink too much then that's one of the clearest signs you can get.
2. You've developed signs of depression.
As a disclaimer, I understand that correlation doesn't necessarily mean causation, so there may be other factors in your life causing you to be depressed. However, there is no denying that alcohol does have an influence on your mental health because it alters the chemical reactions in the brain.
Alcohol reduces the serotonin level in your brain. Serotonin is the chemical which regulates your mood. Reducing this will undoubtedly cause a decrease in your mood. If you regularly experience a low mood after drinking, you are probably drinking too much.
1. You clicked this list.
Whether you're aware of it or not, if you clicked this list then it is likely your subconscious is curious to see if you can relate to this list. That is a sign.
If you find yourself searching for signs that you drink too much, then you more than likely drink too much.
If you think you, or someone you know, may have a drinking problem, please reach out. Resources are available.