‘Drinking was fun… until it wasn’t’ is a saying in some recovery circles, which helps identify the point in time where alcohol use transformed from an enjoyable experience into something problematic. For many drinkers, however, it can be difficult to identify exactly when their drinking habits turned into an unpleasant situation. There are a number of signs and symptoms to look for that can indicate a person’s drinking habits have escalated into a problem, including: not being able to stop drinking once started, blacking out regularly, drinking even when you don’t want to, being ashamed of your own drunken behavior, and doing things you don’t intend on doing while drunk.
Alcohol.org conducted a survey of 4,957 drinkers to find out how many can identify with some of these warning signs and symptoms of alcoholism in themselves. It was discovered that overall, 1 in 10 drinkers in Indiana (10%) said they could identify with at least one sign of alcoholism. Nationally, this figure was thirteen percent: 15% of men felt this way as compared to 11% of women. This figure was highest in Delaware (38%) and lowest in North Carolina, where just 6% of drinkers said they could identify with at least one sign of alcoholism.
Of those Indiana drinkers who said they identify with at least one sign of alcoholism (national figures in brackets):
- 41% (40%) said they can relate to the feeling of constantly monitoring their alcohol situation, like always making sure you have a full glass or keeping an eye on the bartender in case he disappears and you can’t get a refill. If there’s a bottle of wine at the table to share, do you wonder if you’ll be able to pour another glass without judgment?
- Another 21% (27%) of respondents here could identify with continuing to drink alcohol once they start. One drink often leads to another, and eventually, it can become a habit that continues and worsens over time, especially if your tolerance increases and you require more alcohol to achieve the desired effect.
- 12% (9%) percent of people could identify with having feelings of regret about their drunken behavior.
- Another 10% (8%) said their drinking leads to negative consequences.
- 7% (6%) of drinkers said they do things while drunk that they don’t intend to.
- 6% (2%) said they sometimes black out.
- 3% (8%) said they sometimes drink even when they don’t want to.
Intoxication can leave you in an altered mental state, especially if you were feeling down or troubled prior to drinking. Some people lose control over their actions when intoxicated, which can lead to regrets and consequences.
Despite things like recommended guidelines and alcohol serving amounts, it’s important to note that alcoholism has varying ranges and greatly differs depending on the individual and a host of other circumstances, like their physiological and mental state. Two drinks might be pushing it over the edge for someone who may notice symptoms of alcoholism in their drinking habits but another person might be able to have four drinks without any indication of a further pressing issue.
In addition to the above signs and symptoms that could indicate a potential problem with alcohol, Alcohol.org explains several others which could hint towards alcoholism:
- Feeling powerless in terms of controlling one’s own level of alcohol use.
- Wanting to reduce drinking but being unable to do so.
- Developing a higher tolerance for alcohol, or needing to drink more over time to reach the desired effects.
- Experiencing alcohol cravings when not drinking or withdrawal symptoms like sweating, shaking and nausea.
- Continuing to use alcohol even if it leads to personal, social, physical and relationship problems.