Regardless how old you are when you started drinking alcohol, consider you start out drinking socially, the norm for your peer group. You drink in moderation, no significant impact on your life.
Alcohol abuse occurs when you continue drinking but often in increased quantities or more frequently and you start experiencing problems i.e. DUI or other legal problems, work problems, problems in relationships, hang overs or blackouts. Not uncommon people don’t connect drinking with these problems, preferring other explanations
Consider that just getting a DUI doesn’t mean you have a “drinking problem”. Many who are charged with Driving Under the Influence often misjudged the amount of alcohol they drank or just found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, it’s not uncommon people pass field sobriety tests but registered a high BAC on a breathalyzer to warrant the DUI.
But consider it in a larger context…
If you got a DUI, every time you were DUI, how many DUI’s would you have? Literally how many? That number can help indicate whether you may have a problem and have just been lucky.
Alcohol Dependency occurs when your tolerance has risen to the point that you drink so much alcohol you suffer withdrawal when you don’t, setting the stage for continued drinking, not because you want to, but because you must just to function normally. Hence the term dependency!
The question to ask is where do you fall along the path?
You can replace alcohol with any drug with an addictive potential; Opiates including heroin, cocaine, crack, methamphetamines, marijuana, cigarettes, you can also expand it to non-substance related activities such as gambling, shopping, sex… etc.
Consider, why would someone who has lost vast sums of money to gambling continue to gamble. Gambling is addictive because it produces a sense of pleasure, euphoria based on brain chemistry. It is also often because of the belief that continuing to gamble increases the opportunity to win enough money to get out of the hole even though it is a similar pattern that has failed in the past. This is considered addict thinking.
Social aspect of addiction involves lifestyle choices that involve that substance or activity of choice.
How do I know if I have a problem? Some basic questions to consider
Do you have any problems…
- Work related
How much of your time is spent, drinking, using, or engaging in risky behaviors?
Have others suggested you may have a problem, why do they think that?
Do you think you have a problem, why?
It is important to know that addiction is treatable!