Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse
Signs, Symptoms, and Help for Drinking Problems
Drinking is woven into the fabric of our society-sharing a bottle of wine over a meal, going out for drinks with friends, celebrating special occasions with champagne. But because alcohol is such a common, popular element in so many activities, it can be hard to see when your drinking has crossed the line from moderate or social use to problem drinking. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse can sneak up on you, so it's important to be aware of the warning signs of a drinking problem and take steps to cut back if you recognize them. And if you or a loved one is already in the throes of an alcohol addiction, take hope. Understanding the problem is the first step to overcoming it.
Many people drink regularly without experiencing any harmful effects, other than perhaps a slight hangover on rare occasions. Yet millions of others suffer from alcoholism and alcohol abuse, making even an occasional drink dangerous.
Why can some people drink responsibly, while others drink to the point of losing their health, their family, or their job? There are no simple answers. Drinking problems are due to many interconnected factors, including genetics, how you were raised, your social environment, and your emotional health. People who have a family history of alcoholism or who themselves suffer from a mental health problem such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder are particularly at risk, because alcohol may be used to self-medicate.
Since drinking is so common in our culture and the effects vary so widely from person to person, it's not always easy to figure out where the line is between social drinking and problem drinking. Taking an honest look at why you drink may help you figure out which side of the line you fall on. Remember, though, the bottom line is how alcohol affects you. If your drinking is causing problems in your life, you have a drinking problem.
Substance abuse experts make a distinction between alcohol abuse and alcoholism (also called alcohol dependence). Unlike alcoholics, alcohol abusers still have at least some ability to set limits on their drinking. However, their alcohol use is still self-destructive and dangerous to themselves or others.�
Common signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse include:
Repeatedly neglecting your responsibilities at home, work, or school because of your drinking. For example, performing poorly at work, flunking classes, neglecting your kids, or skipping out on commitments because you're hung over.
Using alcohol in situations where it's physically dangerous, such as drinking and driving, operating machinery while intoxicated, or mixing alcohol with prescription medication against doctor's orders.
Experiencing repeated legal problems on account of your drinking. For example, getting arrested for driving under the influence or drunk and disorderly conduct.
Continuing to drink even...