How much consumption of alcohol labels you as an alcoholic?
If you are having to question yourself if your drinking renders you an alcoholic then perhaps you do have a problem.
If drinking begins to affect your personal and working life, then it could be a warning sign.
“If you’re becoming dependent on having a drink each evening to get through your working day or struggling to cut back despite the negative consequences it may be having, it could be a sign of alcoholism even if you don’t drink every day or in large amounts,” advises Martin Preston, founder and chief executive at a private rehabilitation clinic in Delamere.
For some people indulging in a drink at the end of the day can be a way to help them unwind and relax, however, if you must drink every day no matter how the day unfolded even having to have one drink could be viewed as addictive behaviour.
“Craving is often a phenomenon that is associated with addiction and can manifest either physically or psychologically,” Preston explains.
“For example, a person may not be physically addicted to alcohol, but may still experience psychological cravings for it instead.”
Drinking even one glass of alcohol a day builds up tolerance in your body, so many find they need to increase the amount of alcohol they consume to achieve the same effect.
The person drinking every night could also start to become dependent on that one glass with the habit turning from a want into a need.
This is what happened to Lorraine. She got into the habit of needing a drink every day around 5 pm. No matter what was on this intake of alcohol was ingrained in her daily routine and she felt like she absolutely had to have it.
“I really believed I was an alcoholic due to the fact that I drank a glass of wine every night. Even though it was only one glass, I started to feel like I couldn’t survive without it and even if I didn’t have any wine in the house I would run out and buy some,” she said.
“What was interesting is that I spoke to a friend of mine and told her my fear that I was addicted to alcohol because I had to have a drink every night. She asked me when I started drinking and I said between 5 and 6 pm. She actually brushed my fears away and said; ‘That’s nothing, I start drinking at 10 am every day.”
“She actually started drinking that early and continued to drink throughout the day and seemed to think that was acceptable and she never seemed to be drunk. That’s when I realized I had to break the addiction to having that one drink a night because I knew that having to have it was a liability that could get out of control.”
Lorraine managed with a huge amount of discipline to cull the glass of wine out of her nightly ritual and says she still has a drink every now and then but she has lost her need for a nightly fix.
“It definitely was not easy for me to relinquish the desire for the wine every night albeit in such a small quantity,” she said. I can not imagine how hard it would be for my friend who drank all day.”
Lorraine broke her nightly drinking ritual by replacing her glass of wine with an evening run.
“Running provided a different kind of high for me. And after breaking out a sweat, my desire for alcohol dissipated. I felt healthier and the headaches that had plagued me faded away. My head also felt clearer and my sleep improved.”
“I believe the alcohol I drank had built up a tolerance in my body,” she confided. “And it never really seemed to affect me, but now after one drink I feel quite tipsy and wouldn’t drive, so even the small amount of regular alcohol I was consuming I consider now to be disturbing.”
Martin confirms that people attempting to give up alcohol may begin to experience withdrawal symptoms on the days they do not have access to it.
“Symptoms can sometimes be life-threatening and can range from shaky hands and insomnia and anxiety to more severe problems including alcoholic seizures and hallucinations,” he said.
Excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to the development of chronic diseases as well as contribute to the breakdown of relationships.
If you start to feel the need to drink maybe it’s time to question your association with alcohol and cut drinking down or completely out to avoid the potential consequences of its insidious addiction.