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Alcohol Addiction, Alcohol-Dependence, Alcoholic, Alcoholics, Alcoholism, Addiction, Recovery, Alcoholics Anonymous

Do I have An Alcohol Addiction? Discussing 10 Key Indicators Of Alcohol-Dependence.

Quick Summary

  • According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare [1], harmful level of consumption is now a major health issue, and are associated with many risks of chronic disease that put you at an increase towards injury and premature death.
  • This type of drinking puts you in a state of social disconnection, and chronic states of isolation put you at an increased risk of alcohol-dependence, especially if you live alone [3].
  • Do you find you need to take more days off than you should, or do you need alcohol in your system to function at work.

2 Minute Read. – View Summary

Something many people may ask themselves over and over again, which on many occasions gets swept under the rug of denial. In this article we will discuss the various factors to consider when asking yourself the various questions like “Am I an Alcoholic?” or “Am I Drinking Too Much?”, some of which were the many questions I asked myself throughout my journey.

In Australia, the consumption of alcohol is becoming widespread, with alcohol increasingly becoming the social norm for many occasions and cultural activities.  According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare [1], harmful level of consumption is now a major health issue, and are associated with many risks of chronic disease that put you at an increase towards injury and premature death.

Is it really worth it?

Something you need to ask yourself, do the benefits outweigh the negatives? Although new research has now come out that no level of alcohol consumption improves health [2], in fact, it may increase your risk of cancer.

The reality is though, you need to be the one to make the choice. Zoom out on your life, look 10 years ahead, play the tape forward, can you continue down this path of alcohol-dependence and still be a functioning, healthy adult? Is it really worth it?

How Do I Know If I have an alcohol addiction?

The first step is knowing the Core Hallmarks of Addictive Behaviour, I wrote an article on this titled “The Root of Addiction“. The second step is unpacking some of these core hallmarks to highlight some of the critical key indicators that will help you determine the level of alcohol-dependency you may have. Now, these key indicators are in no specific order, but the more you say yes to the more serious it may be.

  • 1. You drink in secret – Do you ever find yourself sneaking in that extra drink while you’re at a party to extend or heighten the state of euphoric “drunkenness?” or do you quickly zip off to the bar to down a couple of extra shots because you “need” more of a buzz? This is a fairly solid indicator of your alcohol-dependence.
  • 2. You hide the addiction – With heavy beer consumption comes an excess of bottles, do you hide bottles to lower the level of perceived addiction from others? Do you keep a stash somewhere that someone doesn’t know about? Sometimes in your head, if people don’t know you have an addiction, you don’t really have one, right? Wrong.
  • 3. You put in rules to moderate – “I’ll only ever drink on weekends” or “I’m only ever going to drink at night”, but then you broke these rules, right? So you put in new rules to moderate, which were excessively more alcohol-flexible than the others. When an addiction takes hold, you try in all your power to shackle the constraints of denial around it.
  • 4. One drink turns into ten – Very common with genetic alcoholics or “blackout” drinkers, and generally, you seek the “window of euphoria” (read more about that here). 
  • 5. You drink alone, a lot – This type of drinking puts you in a state of social disconnection, and chronic states of isolation put you at an increased risk of alcohol-dependence, especially if you live alone [3]. We as humans have an innate drive to bond, and this drinking habit forms an undesirable bond to alcohol.
  • 6. You drink drive – A pretty simple one that doesn’t need much explanation. Now, while there are levels of drink driving in regards to Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), any individual that puts themselves willingly behind the wheel, knowing fully that this risk the lives of others, needs to evaluate their alcohol consumption.
  • 7. Disrupted responsibilities – Work performance dropping? Do you find you need to take more days off than you should, or do you need alcohol in your system to function at work? This can be an alarming sign that your dependence on alcohol is reaching a tipping point.
  • 8. You have uncontrollable sweats and shakes – These are key withdrawal symptoms in individuals that are excessively abusing alcohol. Sweat is a combination of detoxification and temperature dysregulation, whilst the shakes are a cause of elevated glutamate neurotransmitters.
  • 9. Anxiety runs rampant – Another symptom of elevated glutamate levels, you find that a days after alcohol consumption make you feel significantly more anxious for no reason. You’ll also find that you probably drink to counteract this anxiety, making the problem increasingly worse.
  • 10. You google your addiction – Probably a strong sign that you have some level of alcohol-dependence, otherwise you wouldn’t be googling it, don’t worry, I’ve done it.

Summary

Saying yes to many of the above indicators may mean you have some level of alcohol dependence, and this a good thing. Understanding you have a problem and formulating a response of acceptance is the first step to pulling the brakes on alcohol addiction.

If you are ready to make the change and put into place support mechanisms, why not get in touch? Being a recovered alcoholic myself, I fully understand what it’s like to go through alcohol addiction.

If you have any questions regarding this article or have any areas you’d like me to discuss, let me know, until next time.

All the best in health,
Stephen Brumwell.

References:

  1. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports-data/behaviours-risk-factors/alcohol/overview
  2. https://www.thelancet.com/article/S0140-6736(18)31571-X/fulltext 
  3. https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1001094

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