As an adult, you may feel that consuming alcoholic beverages is your right. Drinking helps you relax. It lowers your inhibitions and helps you feel connected to others in social circles. You admit that you sometimes drink a little more than you should, but who hasn’t? Everyone you know has overindulged on one or more occasions, and you try to tell yourself that your behavior isn’t any worse than that of other people.
Still, you might feel a sort of inner nudge that tells you there is something different about the way you drink compared to the way other people drink. You may feel embarrassed or ashamed about things you have done while under the influence, and you may sometimes not even remember what you did. Here are some signs that it’s time to reconsider the idea that drinking has to be part of adulthood and admit that it’s time to quit.
Building Up Tolerance to Alcohol
When you drink alcohol regularly, you may notice that you begin to build up tolerance. This means that you require more and more alcohol to obtain the same effect. If it used to take one or two cocktails to unwind at the end of a stressful day, now it takes three or four. You may find that you need to drink before social events so that you will be relaxed enough to attend, and that you can’t even consider socializing without drinking.
Socializing isn’t the only thing that you need alcohol to face. You may need a drink or two in order to have the courage to face any stressful event, from job interviews to first dates to traveling. Do you find that you need to rely on alcohol more and more to get through the stresses of ordinary living? If you are reaching for alcohol first thing in the morning, or if you think you need to drink to cope with normal day-to-day situations, you may need to look at how much you are relying on alcohol and what other coping skills you might use instead.
Comments From Friends and Family
The people who love you the most may be starting to get concerned about your behavior when you’re drinking. They may start to complain that you are drinking way too much or that you are embarrassing them. They may tell you about things you have done while under the influence that you don’t remember. They may issue ultimatums that require you to cut back on your drinking or quit altogether. There’s a good chance these comments aren’t coming from random strangers but from people who genuinely care about you.
Reckless Behavior and Legal Problems
As your drinking progresses, you may find that you are participating in more and more reckless behavior. You are doing things you never would do if you weren’t under the influence of alcohol. You may drive drunk or wake up next to people you don’t recognize. You may become belligerent or aggressive while under the influence. You may be facing legal problems caused by driving drunk or becoming violent while drunk.
Have you begun to experience problems with your health because of your drinking? Has your doctor told you that your liver enzymes are abnormal and that you need to quit drinking? You may have experienced irritation in the lining of your throat or stomach because of your drinking. Some health problems that are caused by drinking aren’t going to go away unless you stop.
Admitting It’s Time to Quit Drinking
If you have experienced one or more of these signs of problem drinking, talk to your doctor or a counselor. If you find that you are unable to quit drinking on your own when you try, it’s important to get help. Quitting cold turkey may be dangerous.
When you recognize that you are having a problem with alcohol, you have taken the most important step toward recovery. It’s possible to lead a productive and happy life sober, but you will need to have the help of other people to learn how to give up drinking and enjoy life without it.