It’s not going to be news to anyone that, while drinking alcohol can have its upsides, it also has its very definite downsides. For some people, even the potential for those downsides is enough to discourage them from ever drinking anything stronger than peppermint tea, while others will happily crack open a craft beer every so often and enjoy it responsibly. But, while we know what it looks like when someone loses control, it’s also worth remembering that this is not something that happens all at once – a drinking problem develops over time.
If you have concerns over an issue you fear you might be developing or one that someone else is showing signs of, then it is worth knowing where the line is between responsibly enjoying alcohol, and needing help. Although it is sometimes argued that a person needs to “hit bottom” before they accept they have a problem, that’s not necessarily the case; a problem which develops gradually can be recognized gradually, too – and the sooner a problem is noticed, the sooner it can be dealt with.
You don’t feel drunk even after you’ve had a few
It’s not unheard of for someone on an evening to respond to warnings from loved ones by saying “I’m fine, I feel perfectly sober. Listen, do I sound drunk?”. And the answer may well be that no, they don’t. The question shouldn’t end there, though, because think about it: how much have they had to drink. If they’ve had three or four beers, they probably should sound at least a little bit drunk. If their tolerance is such that they can drink to excess without registering a change, then it’s a pretty bad sign that they’re too used to heavy drinking.
People express a concern about your drinking
If someone close to you says “I’m a little worried that you’re drinking too much”, then don’t cast your mind back over the last 48 hours and say “Oh, maybe I had one too many at dinner the other night, but I’m fine overall”. They’re not talking about the last 48 hours, this is something they’ve observed over time. Equally, if you’ve noticed it in a friend – sat next to them at work and smelled their alcohol breath, or put them to bed on the couch once too often, then it’s bad enough to need talking about, and you’re not helping them by ignoring it.
You don’t see a warning sign when it’s right there
For some people, the realization that they have a drinking problem comes when they are arrested for a DUI, or they behave aggressively in front of loved ones. If you, or someone you know, has allowed that moment to pass and kept drinking, it’s a problem. If you’ve met up with friends in a bar and said “I can stop for a couple, but then I have to go”, and left at closing time, it’s a problem. These are moments where a drinking problem can be nipped in the bud if you’re prepared to see those signs or to point them out to a friend with an issue.
No one likes to admit that they have a drinking problem, but taking that moment to face up to the facts can be the making of a person. It can allow you to put solutions in place and turn around a life.