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For many people, drinking alcohol serves a variety of purposes. It can be a way to take the edge off a rough day at work or an instant confidence booster in a social situation. Drinking moderate amounts of alcohol generally does not result in physical or psychological addiction. Unfortunately, some people are unable to use alcohol responsibly. Factors such as your environment, peer pressure, genetics and how easily you can access alcohol can increase your chances of developing alcoholism. Many alcoholics don’t even recognize that they have a drinking problem as denial often goes hand in hand with alcoholism.

If you’re wondering if you’re an alcoholic, you’ve likely experienced some situations that have made you aware that you have a problem with drinking. Perhaps a family member or friend has approached you with concern over your drinking habits. Addiction is easier to treat when it’s caught early. Recognizing that you have a problem may be difficult but it is the first step in becoming sober.

What Is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is defined as a clinical dependence on alcohol. Sometimes people struggle to understand why an alcoholic can’t use their own willpower to control their drinking habits. The reality is that alcoholism has little to do with one’s determination or drive. When you suffer from alcoholism, you can’t control how much you are drinking, how long you are drinking and when you drink. You have an uncontrollable need for alcohol even though you recognize the negative impact it’s having on your life. Without help, eventually an alcoholic will lose it all and self-destruct.

Signs of Alcoholism

According to Mayo Clinic, you may be alcoholic if:

  • You are unable to quit drinking when you attempt to stop.
  • You are increasing your alcohol consumption to reach the desired effect.
  • You reach for alcohol as soon as you wake up.
  • You drink alone.
  • You spend a large amount of time drunk. Other people are frequently finding you passed out.
  • You are giving up previous activities and hobbies you once enjoyed just so you can drink.
  • You suffer withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to stop drinking – like shaking, nausea, sweating, anxiety and fatigue.
  • You feel the need to hide your drinking from others. For example, you may add water to a bottle of wine, so your spouse doesn’t see how much you actually drank.
  • Your drinking causes you to miss days of work. Or you frequently show up to work hungover or drunk.
  • You drink when you feel angry, sad, bored or stressed out.

An Alcoholic’s Distorted Way of Thinking

A common psychological characteristic found in many alcoholics is denial. An alcoholic will often blame other people or events for their drinking problem. For example, you might feel that you only drink so much because your boss gave you too much work to handle. Or you might blame a drunk driving accident that you caused on the other driver. You may feel that the stress in your personal relationship is making you drink. Alcoholics often find it a lot easier to blame anyone but themselves for their drinking problems. Alcoholism makes you drink large amounts of alcohol instead of facing your problems.

You might also feel that you are different than a “real alcoholic.” A real alcoholic can’t hold a job, is a social hermit, lives in a cardboard box and stinks of alcohol. Their sad state of affairs is nothing like yours so you deny that you could be an alcoholic. The reality is that no one is immune to alcoholism and even high-functioning adults in esteemed professions, such as physicians, lawyers and teachers, are struggling with this chronic disease. Professional help in an exclusive residential treatment center is strongly recommended.

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