What is a drinking problem?

It may be hard to tell if you or a loved one has a drinking problem. Drinking is an everyday activity for most people once they become of age. But when does it cross the line? When does having a few drinks become a full-blown problem that gets out of control? A drinking issue can start small, but when it becomes a drinking problem, it can affect not just you, but your loved ones as well. 

Defining a drinking problem

A drinking problem can very from person to person. Everyone’s tolerance is different based on body size and mass. The NIH (National Insitute Alchohol Abuse and Alcoholism) advises that a standard drink has 0.6 fluid ounces or 14 grams of pure alcohol. This means that the actual size of the beverage can vary, but in the end, they all have around the same alcohol content. 

The CDC defines excessive drinking by gender. Women who drink eight or more drinks, and men who have 15 or more drinks in a week are considered excessive drinkers. When you excessively drink regularly, you are exposing your body to a lot of alcohol, which can cause a lot of problems physically and mentally. All of this can add up and create a drinking problem. 

But I don’t drink that much every week.

Not all drinking problems stem from how many drinks you have in a week. In fact, that is only one version of a drinking problem. Drinking problems also tend to happen when people under the age of 21, pregnant people who are consuming alcohol, and people who binge drink. The CDC advises that all of those scenarios can lead to drinking problems. These issues happen every day in the United States and can be challenging to see. 

What are the signs? 

The signs for a drinking problem can be many different things. If you notice that you are having more than a standard drink a day, or if you know someone who regularly binges drinks, then they may have an alcohol problem. 

Another sign of a drinking problem that can be more subtle is to see if you or someone you know is becoming dependent on alcohol. Can they relax without having an alcoholic beverage, or are they drinking under poor conditions (i.e., pregnant or under the age of 21)? 

There are also some more physical attributes, have you noticed that their weight is changing, or that they look slightly different. Has their personality changed? Keeping an eye out for anything thing like this can help you find out if you or someone near you has a drinking problem.

Why is it dangerous to have a drinking problem? 

Drinking Problems can lead to immediate and long term health problems. Many people fall prey to over drinking and binge drinking. 1 in 6 adults in the US are binge drinkers, which equals to about 38 million people have a binge drinking problem. 

The short term effects of a drinking problem

The short term issues can lead to some minor inconveniences that can lead to substantial consequences. One of the more common effects of drinking problems is people getting injured, poisoned, and becoming more violent. People under the influence of alcohol are more prone to getting into fights and motor vehicle accidents. There is also an increase in homicide, suicide, and sexual assault due to the effects of alcohol. Poisoning happens as people have an overdose of alcohol and are more prone to get into drugs such as opioids and having overdoses from that. 

The long term effects of a drinking problem

The long term effects are a bit more known but can be just as deadly. The CDC advises that at least 1 in 10 deaths among working-age adults happen every year. Drinking problems can lead to heart and liver disease. Overindulging in alcohol for a long time can also lead to high blood pressure and strokes. 

Another effect of drinking problems is when women who drink when they are pregnant. This can be both a long term and short term effect as it can happen quickly but has long term consequences. Children born to women who are drinking while pregnant are susceptible to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. These disorders can be physical, mental, and can affect a child’s development.

What happens if I have a drinking problem? 

If you have a drinking problem, you may fall prey to some of the dangers outlined in the above section. Try to identify if you have a problem as soon as possible. Multiple lists of alcoholism can advise on some of the symptoms and help you determine if you or someone you know is an alcoholic.  

Who do I go to if I have a drinking problem? 

If you have a drinking problem, there are many places you can go to for help. The best place to start would be to find a treatment center. Find one that can offer a variety of plans that can work with a variety of schedules. They have professional doctors and therapists on call for specific issues like drinking problems. For example, Pinelands Recovery Center in New Jersey provides in-house residential treatment and outpatient options with fantastic service and care. Centers like these offer consultations and help tailor treatment plans that can meet your needs. 

Where do I go from here? 

Once you identify that you have a drinking problem, the next step is to take action. This can include finding someone to talk to and researching what possible solutions are possible dor you. Looking up how to handle a drinking problem is probably one of the first things you are going to do. 

The resources available to help you. 

There are resources everywhere that can help you or someone you know fights their drinking problem. Even the CDC has social media accounts with tips and tricks to help fight a beginning drinking problem or help you identify an already existing issue. Also, checking out the recovery centers themselves can help you learn what options you have like Pinelands Recovery Center

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About Michelle Hickethier
Michelle Hickethier is currently a Graduate Student at California State University Fullerton studying English. She is currently focusing on becoming a professor so she can help educate young minds to help them become their best selves.

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