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Am I An Alcoholic?

Someone is exasperated after trying to answer whether or not they are an alcoholicWe cannot answer that question, nor can any “quiz” or “self test” you find on Facebook or Google. The truth about alcoholism or alcohol addiction is that it comes in many forms, and is highly personalized to the individual. It is possible, however, to inform yourself of the common signs and symptoms of alcoholism. If you are reading this on behalf of someone you love or care for, and are concerned they may be an alcoholic or have an addiction to alcohol, this short guide can help you as well. It should be noted, however, that the only way to determine if problematic drinking has escalated to an addiction to alcohol is to seek professional medical help in the form of a physician or psychiatrist. Only someone who is qualified to diagnosis medical or psychiatric conditions can make a truly accurate assessment, and the purposes of this guide is simply to provide basic information for someone who may be suffering from alcoholism and to provide information for those closest to them.

A Few Drinks Here and There

There is nothing wrong with consuming the odd alcoholic beverage from time to time, unless of course you practice a religion or have cultural restrictions where alcohol is not permitted or the consumption of alcohol is frowned upon. For most, though, a drink at a party or social event is no big deal and is usually not seen as bad or out of place. Weddings, birthdays, dinners out, dates and vacations are all places where people of the age of majority can enjoy a drink, so long as they don’t go overboard.

Alcohol Abuse & Binge Drinking

Although quantities vary based on where we live, for instance Canada compared to Western Europe, it is generally considered that consuming a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time, such as a few hours, is considered unhealthy. The term for drinking too much very quickly is binge drinking, and for men it is approximately five or more drinks within two hours, and for women four or more drinks in roughly the same amount of time. Unfortunately, many people who see binge drinking in those around them, or a pattern of unhealthy drinking in a friend or family member, are quick to label that person an alcoholic.

The Alcoholic

The truth is, an alcoholic is someone who has a psychological or physical addiction to alcohol. Sometimes it’s both. Put more simply, an alcoholic is someone who literally depends upon alcohol in some way. Perhaps as a friend or family member, you notice that the person close to you shakes or gets unbelievably nervous if they haven’t had a drink for a little while. There are plenty of other signs, of course, but the point is it’s important to learn the differences between an alcohol abuser and an alcoholic.

An alcoholic often seems to “enjoy” drinking alone, instead of with their friends or family. They can lose interest in work, school or any activity really where drinking isn’t appropriate. In fact, they often seem to make alcohol their top priority and will avoid things that prevent them from getting a few drinks in them. Aside from the physical signs, such as sweating and shaking, an alcoholic may have mood swings and opt to drink at unusual times like first thing in the morning. Replacing the morning coffee with a morning scotch is indeed very alarming to those around the alcoholic, and such behavior is often continued despite the wishes of family members or friends. In fact, the inability to stop drinking is one of the most noticeable signs of alcoholism, and is perhaps the most important warning to look out for if you’re concerned about someone else’s potential addiction to alcohol. An alcoholic will often continue to drink despite money problems, potential loss of their job or career, a spouse threatening to leave because of the drinking, health related issues and even if they risk losing their children.

Alcoholism is nasty, debilitating, life threatening, parasitic even. It warps, twists and distorts the reality of those who suffer from it and can completely destroy their lives, as well as severely damage the lives of those around them. Seeking help from a medical professional and enrolling in a treatment program that specializes in alcoholism and alcohol addiction is often the only way to regain control of one’s life, but the good news is it really can work. Rehab, despite being either demonized or glorified in a twisted way, can truly change an alcoholic’s life and provide them with the treatment and continued support they need to both recover and prosper in life. Freeing oneself from the grip of alcohol addiction is not easy, but unbelievably liberating and can lead to a much healthier, happier future.