If you’re reading this, you’re probably not afraid to admit it: You like to have a drink or two from time to time. Some of you might even enjoy drinking on a semi-regular basis. However, for most people, drinking in excess can become problematic.
The past two years of Covid restrictions have tested the best of us. The pandemic had an impact on people’s mental health and many people and many people reported that they started drinking more during the lockdowns. With things getting back to normal, if you find you are still drinking in excess, you may have a problem.
Alcohol can be a great social lubricant in the right doses. However, if you’re drinking to excess or failing to manage your drinking, you may be exhibiting signs of alcoholism. The good news is that you can take steps to address your problem and even recover.
What Is alcoholism?
Alcoholism is a disease characterised by a pattern of drinking that results in harm to users and others. It is a significant problem worldwide. People who drink alcohol may do so to relax or to alleviate stress. But if you continue to drink more than you intended or feel you need to drink more and can’t stop yourself until you pass out, you may have a problem.
Alcoholism is characterised by a person’s inability to control drinking. These people may continue to drink despite facing problems associated with drinking, such as alcohol dependence, withdrawal symptoms, health risks, legal problems, and family issues.
The effects of alcohol
Alcohol is a depressant drug, meaning that it slows down your central nervous system, which controls your brain and muscles. Your brain and your muscles are responsible for movement and coordination. When you drink alcohol, the brain slows down. This can make you feel relaxed, but it can also make you forgetful or unable to coordinate movement. Heavy and chronic drinkers may even fall unconscious.
Symptoms of Alcoholism
There are many symptoms of alcoholism, but the most important ones indicate you need help. Some of the most common signs of alcoholism include the following:
- Drinking is a problem for you, and you have a withdrawal “crash” when you stop drinking.
- You like to drink alone.
- You drink more when you’re bored or upset.
- You drink more when you’re with friends who also drink.
- You drink when you’re sick or if you feel depressed.
- You spend a lot of time drinking, and you have trouble stopping.
- Your drinking affects your job, your family, your friends, or your relationships.
Strategies for Recovery
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to alcoholism. The best approach is one that is tailored to your individual needs. Here are some important considerations:
- Recognise and accept the signs of alcoholism. If you recognise them, you can stop and ask for help.
- Get medical help for any medical problems caused by drinking, such as damage to your heart and liver.
- Seek professional counselling, particularly if you have family issues related to drinking.
- Make a plan for when you think you might have a problem and have a designated person to call.
- Seek treatment if you’re an outpatient and attend an inpatient program if you’re a resident.
- Adhere to your treatment plan. Sometimes, people who come out of rehabilitation don’t continue to follow their treatment plan. This is very important in recovery.
If you’re struggling with a drinking problem, don’t feel alone. The first step to managing your problem is awareness. You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge. There are ways to reduce your overall alcohol intake while still enjoying the occasional drink. As with any substance, moderation is key. And if you find yourself feeling the need to drink more than you’re comfortable with, consider asking yourself some questions. Are you drinking more than you did before? If so, you may need to adjust your intake.