Drinking in moderation can be healthy for most adults. Still, a chronic compulsion to drink that interferes with your life and relationships can indicate an alcohol use disorder (AUD).
Warning signs of an AUD include harmful alcohol-related consequences, repeatedly drinking more than intended, and increased tolerance.
1. You Drink More Than You Intended To
If you can’t stop yourself from drinking even though you intend to drink less, that may be a sign you have an alcohol problem. Many people drink more than they intended to. But if this pattern is ongoing and disruptive to your life, it may be a sign that you have an AUD.
Alcoholics often drink more than intended because they crave the alcohol, or they have an innate inability to stop drinking once they start easily.
2. You Drink to Cope with Stress and Feel Guilty About It
If you turn to alcohol to cope with stress or emotional discomfort, that may be a sign of an alcohol problem.
Alcohol is often used to self-soothe, but it’s not a healthy way to deal with your feelings or stressors in your life. You may feel guilt or shame over this coping mechanism, especially as you drink more than intended.
3. You Have Had a Slip-Up or Lapse in Your Habits
Many alcoholics have one or more habits that they follow closely. These could be physical habits, like drinking beer or wine, or mental habits, like only drinking on the weekends or after work. Breaking these habits indicates that your relationship with alcohol isn’t healthy.
For example, if you usually only drink beer, but you’ve started drinking wine, you may be suffering from an alcohol problem but ignoring it.
4. Your Drinking Has Caused Problems in Your Relationship
If your drinking has led to fights with your partner, if you’ve neglected your partner because of your alcohol consumption, or if your drinking has led to a breakup, you may have an alcohol problem.
If you’ve noticed that your drinking has caused problems in your relationship, it’s time to seek help. Start by discussing your drinking habits with your partner. Partners can help identify the problem before it becomes serious.
5. You Need More Alcohol to Feel the Same Effect
If you’re drinking a certain amount of alcohol but need more and more to feel the same effects, this can be a sign that you’re drinking too much. It can signify that you’re developing a dependence on alcohol, a common indicator of an alcohol use disorder.
If you’re drinking more alcohol than usual, it’s worth being aware of this warning sign so you can get help before you develop a serious problem.
6. You Have Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
You might experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop if you drink heavily regularly. While the occasional binge doesn’t typically cause withdrawal symptoms, consistent heavy drinking can create withdrawal symptoms when you stop.
Common alcohol withdrawal symptoms include nausea, anxiety, sweating, and shaking. If you experience any of these symptoms when you stop drinking, it can be a sign that you have an alcohol problem. Alcohol medication treatment can be effective in solving the problem.
7. You Have Constant Cravings for Alcohol
It may signify a drinking problem if you constantly crave alcohol, which is hard to ignore. Cravings are a sign of psychological and physical dependence on alcohol, which can signify that you have an alcohol problem.
You may have a drinking problem if you can’t stop thinking about alcohol or craving it even when you know it’s not good for you.
8. You Engage in Risky Behaviors
One of the most common symptoms of an alcohol problem is engaging in risky activities that put your life in danger. Drinking alcohol in moderation usually doesn’t lead to risky behaviors.
Risky activities like driving, sexual, or putting yourself in unsafe situations are one of the symptoms of alcohol use disorder. If you find that you’re engaging in risky behavior that you wouldn’t normally do, you may have an alcohol problem.
Alcohol is a drug that affects the brain and body in many ways, including causing changes in the brain, disrupting a person’s life and being fatal if left untreated. It can be helpful in moderation, but if consumed excessively, it can have serious side effects.