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5 Signs You’re Struggling with Alcoholism

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By Rita Rippentrop, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor

struggling with alcoholism

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and while alcoholism is extremely common, it often goes overlooked. Have you or a loved one shown up late for work, disappointed family members or frequently can’t remember what happened the night before because of alcohol? You are not alone. 

One in every 13 adults suffer from alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence. Millions more drink in ways that place themselves or others at risk. You don’t have to be an alcoholic in order to feel the effects of the disease. Approximately one-half of adults in the U.S. report issues with alcoholism and problem drinking in their families. There are also people who are functioning alcoholics. These are people who manage to keep a job, pay their bills and maintain a semblance of a normal life. They are so good at hiding their addiction that it can be hard for their loved ones to notice, but there always symptoms if you look closely enough.

So when should you worry about yourself or others? Here are some of the most common signs that you or a loved one are struggling with alcoholism:

1. Your attempts to stop drinking are unsuccessful. 

A person who struggles with alcohol use always think that they can quit if they want to, but it’s just not true. If you find yourself thinking or saying this when questioned about your drinking, challenge yourself to actually do it. If you struggle to even simply cut back, let alone stop drinking completely, then there’s a bigger problem.

2. Drinking makes you feel guilty. 

Healthy behavior generally doesn’t make you feel guilty. If you find yourself lying about your drinking habits or hiding your drinking from those around you because you know it will upset them, then it’s a problem. If it wasn’t a problem, you wouldn’t need to hide it.

3. You feel agitated if you can’t drink.

Some people like to have a glass of wine or a drink after work in order to wind down, and this is relatively normal. But it’s time to worry if you find that you depend on alcohol to calm your nerves, forget your worries or put yourself in a good mood.

4. You keep needing to drink more. 

Over time, your body will build up a tolerance to alcohol—especially if you are drinking more often than you should. Continuously needing to drink more and more to feel the desired effects is a red flag.

5. You cause harm to yourself and others because of your drinking. 

Perhaps the biggest red flag is when drinking starts to disrupt your life and your relationships with others. Whether this comes in the form of physically injuring yourself and others, consistently becoming belligerent and starting arguments with loved ones or being unable to hold down a job, it’s all a screaming warning that you have an addiction that you need help with.

Resources (and help) are always available.

If you are unsure of where to begin with addressing your alcoholism, you can take an online screening. After you complete the screening, you can access community resource pages that will help you take the next step. 

You can also visit Alcoholics Anonymous for more information. If you are close to someone with an alcohol problem and aren’t sure how to help, you can find more information here

If you grew up in a home where alcohol was abused and are struggling with impact it’s had on your life, you can find support here.

And of course, if you or someone you know may benefit form counseling, you can contact us for more information or to request an appointment. We have addiction-trained therapists ready to help.