There are certain times of the year, like the holidays, where it seems everywhere that you go there is some type of alcohol. From office parties to family gatherings, you are going to find wine or beer. It is just expected. Of course, none of us put a second thought to the amount we consume. Nor do we pay attention to how much another person is drinking. So, finding that line between an alcohol problem and just enjoying yourself can be very hard. However, it is important that we discover that line so we know when it is time to ask for help, for ourselves and for our loved ones.
What is considered an alcohol problem?
When someone says they have an alcohol problem, the first thing that most of us think of is alcoholism. We tend to think of alcoholism as total dependence on alcohol. The image of a town drunk may even come to mind. In reality, alcoholism can take many forms. It can be as simple as having too much to drink at parties, being unable to recognize your limit, or simply not being able to turn down a drink.
You may not even realize that you have an alcohol problem. You could possibly misdiagnose someone else as having an alcohol problem. In reality, an alcohol problem can vary from person to person. What might not be a big deal for you, maybe a problem for me? You may have no trouble drinking just one drink or you may not be able to stop at one drink. It all depends on your body and how your mind deals with a drink or two.
Here is an example: You and your friend go to the club. Your friend has several drinks but maintains her senses. You have the same number of drinks but you are dancing on the tabletops and drawing attention to yourself. The next day, you have no trouble avoiding alcohol, in fact, you have no desire to drink again – until the next girls’ night out. Your friend ends up having a drink every night that week. You both would be considered as having a drinking problem, just on completely different levels and ways.
How common are alcohol problems?
One in six people suffers from some sort of alcohol problem. Keeping in mind this could range from the inability to control how many drinks they have to full-blown alcohol dependency. It does not matter what kind of alcohol you drink. Wine and beer are just as likely to give you problems as whiskey. Alcohol is alcohol.
Who is at a greater risk for alcohol problems?
Men actually tend to be more likely to have an alcohol problem. They are also more likely to binge drink. Alcohol problems are also more common among the age range of twenty to forty. That does not mean that alcohol problems don’t occur younger or older, it just means these are the most likely to suffer from an alcohol-related problem.
What are the types of alcohol problems?
The term of an alcohol problem leaves you wide open to make judgments that could be wrong, hurtful, or just uninformed. To better understand it, you should look at the three types of alcohol problems.
Binge drinking – the act of drinking harmful amounts of alcohol in one seating. For women, this is four or more drinks. For men that are five or more drinks in one sitting. Even though you aren’t considered an alcoholic, binge drinking is very harmful to your health. It does real damage to your vital organs because it is hard for them to process in the short amount of time that you are drinking. Even if you binge drink occasionally, you are harming your body.
Binge drinkers often fall into these nine categories:
- College binge drinkers – colleges with more binge drinking have shown to have more assault cases. There are more missed classes, more property damage, and more police reports than colleges that do not allow alcohol.
- De-stress drinkers – these are typically the middle class who have become overwhelmed by life and need a break.
- Conformist drinkers – those who need to belong to a group
- Boredom drinkers – those who tend to drink to pass the time or because they can’t find something else to do and don’t want to sit at home.
- Depressed drinkers – these are the broken-hearted. Either they suffered a major loss in their life or they feel like there is a void. They use alcohol to keep from having to deal with the pain.
- Re-bonding drinkers – those who want to catch up with a long-lost friend or family member.
- Community drinkers – the ones who don’t want to get left out, so they join the team in a few rounds
- Hedonistic drinkers – ready to lose control and just enjoy the feeling of letting loose. These are usually newly divorced.
- Macho drinkers – also known as the showoffs. They want to be the one who can drink more than anyone else so that they stand out from the crowd. They want approval from others. They want to be the center of attention. It’s all about pleasing the crowd.
Alcohol Abuse – Having a drink several times a week. These are usually the ones who have a beer after a hard day, need a glass of wine to unwind, or turn to alcohol for comfort. While they aren’t dependent on alcohol, they are on their way to becoming dependent on it. Some signs of alcohol abuse are:
- Missing work due to being drunk or hungover
- Unable to handle responsibilities given to them
- A steady decline in work performance
- Getting into legal trouble due to actions caused by drinking. This includes drinking and driving, getting into fights, unable to control your actions, and the inability to recognize authority.
Alcohol Dependency – This is the next step in alcohol abuse. It is avoidable if you take notice of your alcohol problem before it becomes this serious. Some of the signs that you are about to hit bottom include:
- Alcohol becomes more important than your health, both mentally and physically.
- Alcohol becomes all you can think of.
- You become sick if you do not have any alcohol.
- It takes more and more alcohol to get you drunk.
- Getting alcohol poising is a regular occurrence.
The Five Types of Alcoholics
Just like the levels of alcohol problems are obvious, there are also five distinct types of alcoholics. Let’s take a look at them:
- Young Adult – These are the 20 somethings that drink less often but binge drinks more often. They may only go out on the weekend but they do it every weekend.
- Young antisocial – they begin to drink around the age of 15. They don’t drink in social situations. They don’t have many friends and often have family problems at home.
- Functional – These are the alcoholics that must have alcohol or they have physical symptoms yet they can go about daily life as normal. They often care for their families with no issues. They hold jobs. They can handle their responsibilities.
- Interfamilial – They drink due to family situations. They tend to begin drinking around the age of 17.
- Chronic severe – alcohol has taken over their life. They cannot function. Alcohol is the only thing they can focus on and often are only looking for their next drink.
Do you have an alcohol problem?
If you enjoy drinking and are wondering if you do have an alcohol problem, there are a few questions you can ask yourself:
How many drinks do you have per week?
Women who have more than seven per week and men who have more than 14 are considered to be abusing alcohol.
Are you drinking safely?
This means you aren’t drinking and driving, you don’t mix medications with alcohol, and you do not operate any heavy machinery while drinking.
Are you drinking out of habit?
If you have to drink to be comfortable around people, to go to sleep, to relax from your day, to control your thoughts, or to because others you know are drinking, you may need to seek help.
Finally, if you do any of the following you may need to seek help:
- Hide your alcohol from others
- Lie about drinking or how much you had to drink
- Spend money you need for bills or groceries on alcohol
- Can’t remember what you do when you drink
- Can’t stop drinking once you start
- Need to drink to deal with life
Drinking on occasion is not bad. However, if you have answered yes to the above questions, then you need to seek professional treatment for your alcoholism. No one can make you stop drinking. You are an individual. It is up to you to take control of your life and your health so that alcohol doesn’t take control. However, if you do need help, there are many options available to you.