If you find yourself asking the question, do I drink too much? There is a good chance you are drinking more than the recommended amount. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently describes drinking in moderation as being one drink per day for a female and two per day for a male. However, this is in a 24-hour period and is not an average over seven days. [Update: An international study published on, April 14, 2018 shows data supporting that the current limits are too high.]
What is Problem Drinking?
Problem drinking is defined as when an individual has issues with drinking that may require specialist treatment to manage. According to the University of North Carolina, many people, especially young people, do not realize they have a problem with drinking alcohol. This is usually because it is seen as a fun and sociable thing to do. If you are asking yourself, am I a problem drinker? it is important you are honest when you answer. If you are unsure of how much alcohol you consume, keep a diary and write down how much alcohol you drink over a period of time. This will tell you if you drink more than the CDC recommends. There are also several signs you should look out for that may indicate you have a problem with drink.
Lack of Control
If you have tried to control or reduce the amount of alcohol you drink in the past and failed, this may be a sign you are a problem drinker. It is not unusual for problem drinkers to turn to alcohol after promising themselves and others they would stay sober. Some see it as nothing more than a lack of willpower, but as the CDC mentions, being unable to control your alcohol consumption could be a warning sign that you are dependent on it.
When people continually drink high amounts of alcohol, they will gradually build up a tolerance to it. This means they will need more and more alcohol to achieve the same effects. If you have noticed you are drinking more before feeling drunk, this may indicate you are a problem drinker. People who drink regularly do not always feel the effects of being drunk; this is why it is important to keep a diary of your alcohol consumption. This will give you an idea of how much your drinking has increased.
While you may think there is nothing wrong with having a few drinks before you go out or before you meet friends at a party, this is also a sign of problem drinking, according to the University of North Carolina website. Downing drinks quickly simply to get as drunk as possible not only has potentially serious consequences, it is also a sign of alcohol dependency. Another sign is drinking where nobody else can see you. Problem drinkers tend to hide how much they are actually drinking from their friends or other people around them.
Frequent Accidents or Blackouts
Statistics show that alcoholics are most likely to suffer alcohol-related blackouts, or alcohol amnesia as it is also known. If you find you have no memory of the night before or can only remember parts of your evening, you have more than likely suffered a blackout. People who have a problem with drink are also more prone to accidents when they have been drinking, usually due to falls or other minor incidents. However, people who drink heavily are also more likely to get in to fights, which can lead to injury and even arrest. Problem drinkers are more likely to engage in risky behavior, much of which takes place when they are experiencing a blackout. Being unable to remember what you have done while drunk means you are at risk of contracting STDs, as well as committing illegal activity.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), a problem drinker or alcoholic continues to drink even when it has a negative effect on other areas of their life. If you find you are preoccupied with drinking alcohol or find yourself thinking constantly about when you can have another drink, you may be alcohol dependent. Problem drinkers usually undergo a complete personality transformation and things that were once important to them are no longer a priority.
The first step to seeking the appropriate treatment for alcohol dependency is visiting your doctor. A medical professional is better equipped to work out exactly what sort of treatment will be most successful for you. Heavy drinkers will benefit from medically supervised rehabilitation, which usually takes place in a hospital or specialist center. Others can receive treatment as an outpatient or even in their home, depending on how severe their dependency is. A combination of medication and therapy is usually the most successful course of treatment for alcoholism. This is because it manages the physical withdrawal symptoms, as well as the powerful psychological dependency. When considering the question do I drink too much? It is important to be honest, as this is often the first step to successfully managing your drinking.