This year’s Alcohol Awareness Week is themed to change. Before any change is possible, alcohol awareness is essential. You may be asking yourself whether you’re drinking too much alcohol. In this blog, we’ll help you look more closely at how much and why you drink. If you decide your alcohol use is problematic, then change is possible. Alcohol treatment outcomes are statistically good – so there’s hope if you’re willing to get help.
Am I Drinking Too Much Alcohol?
There are only three answers to this question.If your answer is ‘yes’ and you want to change, please contact Addiction Helper for a confidential alcohol assessment. When you feel the motivation to get alcohol help, please act on it quickly.
If your answer is ‘I don’t know’ then below are 10 questions to increase your alcohol awareness and spot dependent drinking.
If your answer is ‘no’ but people close to you have expressed concern that you’re drinking too much alcohol, then the following questions will help you too. Equally, if you’re a worried friend or relative, please read on.
10 Alcohol Awareness Questions
You may have a growing sense that something isn’t right about how you drink. Or you might be increasingly arranging your life around opportunities to drink. Perhaps you think there’s nothing wrong with your alcohol use – but the people who love you disagree. Whichever it is, these 10 alcohol awareness questions will help you know if it’s time to change.
1. Do you drink alcohol to change the way you feel?
When alcohol addiction develops, drinking is increasingly about trying to feel relaxed, happy, in control, pain-free or stress-free.
So, ask yourself this – do you often feel stressed, unhappy, anxious or in pain when you’re not drinking? Is alcohol the main way you feel good about yourself and your life?
2. Could you go without alcohol for several months?
Think for a minute about stopping drinking altogether. Would it be a big challenge to go without alcohol for three months? Six months? Does the thought of that make you feel fearful or angry or sad? Would life be very bland or difficult without alcohol?
Healthy drinkers don’t worry about when they can have their next drink. They can abstain easily. They don’t spend much time, if any, thinking about alcohol or planning when they will drink. Importantly, their satisfaction in life does not depend on alcohol.
3. Do you often drink more than you intended?
Healthy drinkers can easily stop drinking once they’ve started. They may have a glass or two one day, then no alcohol for several days or longer.
Consider whether you find it difficult to control how much you drink. Once you have consumed alcohol, do you find your resolve to drink a certain amount weakens or disappears? How often do you end up drinking too much alcohol?
4. Do you understand the effects of drinking too much alcohol?
Perhaps you know that you drink excessively – but you see no reason to stop or cut down because you function well in your life. You show up for work and you keep on top of your personal responsibilities. Your doctor may have checked you out recently and your health seems fine.
If you’re drinking significantly above the Government’s alcohol guidelines (14 units per week), then it’s important that your alcohol awareness includes an understanding of the changes alcohol makes to the brain and body. Over time, there will be impacts on your physical and mental health. Your alcohol tolerance will change too – so you will have to drink more to get the same effect. Knowing this information will help you to spot if alcohol dependence develops in future.
5. Do you regret alcohol-related risks?
Consider risky behaviours too. Do you take risks when you drink alcohol – particularly things you would not do when you’re sober? Does anything you say or do feel out of character after alcohol?
For example, do you drink-drive? Or fight with your partner? Do you have sex you regret after drinking too much alcohol? Do you overspend on nights out? Do you get upset after alcohol? Do you miss work regularly and make up excuses about your absence? Do you suffer from bad hangovers – feeling sick, anxious or regretful?
6. Do you drink to deal with pressure?
Pressure is another way to look at this. Do you feel constantly up against it in life? Is alcohol the way you cope with stress?
If drinking is your main way to wind down or let off steam, then you may have a dependence-related issue.
Equally, if your alcohol use has changed significantly after a stressful period in your life – a job loss, bereavement or a relationship break up – then you may have turned to alcohol to cope.
7. Has your mental health been affected by alcohol?
If you know you’re drinking too much alcohol and you’ve experienced memory loss, depression, anxiety or difficulty concentrating – then these mental health problems may be linked to your alcohol use.
You can weigh up the benefits you get from drinking against the negative impacts, to see if alcohol is still giving you more than it takes.
8. Is alcohol connected to physical harm?
Another essential part of alcohol awareness is around your physical health. Think back on injuries or accidents you’ve had – how many happened after drinking too much alcohol? Do you have any physical illnesses that are connected to how much you drink?
9. Do you feel pride about how much you can drink?
Perhaps you’re known in your circle of friends for being a big drinker – people often remark about how much you can drink. People associate you with having a good time with alcohol. They often want to celebrate their good times with you. You drink most days – it’s very unusual for you to have a day off – but however much you drink, you always get up the next day.
If you have a strong sense of pride in how well you cope with a lot of alcohol, then there may be an underlying dependence issue. It’s worth having an impartial alcohol assessment, especially if you’re open to change.
10. How are your five closest relationships?
In your five closest relationships, are you getting on well? Or do you find yourself arguing or falling out? Have family or friends distanced themselves from you or expressed concern?
It’s also worth considering if your five closest relationships are with people who drink alcohol in the way you do. If so, do you ever find yourself justifying drinking too much alcohol by saying everyone else drinks like you?
Alcohol Treatment – When You Need Help to Change
Please, don’t think you’re too young or old to get alcohol help. We speak to people of all ages – from teenagers through to adults and older people.
There’s also a myth that there’ll be a perfect time to get help. Some people think they can’t get alcohol help because Christmas is around the corner, their birthday is coming up, they’ve just lost a job or they’re going through a busy time.
However, alcohol dependence is an illness. To recover, alcohol treatment and ongoing support are often needed, to break the cycle of addiction and rebuild your life.
To talk in confidence about the options for help with your drinking, please get in touch with Addiction Helper.