Can you be an alcoholic even if you are not living on the streets and unemployed?
You can’t always determine if someone is an alcoholic from their appearance. There are stereotypes, but they do not always apply. Alcoholism can affect people who look entirely “normal.” Many alcoholics still have homes, jobs and families. Their lives have not been completely destroyed… yet.
“Many of us see alcoholics in the movies and hear about them in local gossip and say “I must not be alcoholic because I am not like that.”
How do I know if my drinking is normal or alcoholic?
A few drinks at a social gathering is what most people define as casual drinking. If you drink when you are out with friends, or when you are just enjoying a single glass of wine with dinner. This is normal behavior. Abuse is when you start to drink excessively, or your drinking starts to accelerate or becomes unmanageable. This is usually accompanied with negative outcomes related to alcohol consumption.
“Alcohol abuse” and “alcoholism” are often used in the same way. However, they are not the same thing. Alcoholism is dependence or addiction to alcohol. The individual has a physical or psychological compulsion to drink alcohol. Alcoholism describes the state of being addicted or dependent on alcohol. This is the obsession with alcohol is both mental and physical. Alcoholics need to drink. Alcohol abuse occurs when someone drinks too much regardless of the negative consequences. Someone who just abuses alcohol on occasion doesn’t need to drink. They do not experience physiological craving.
A heavy drinker or a binge drinker may drink too much. They may have bad things happen in their lives as a result of their drinking. These people may have health problems because of their drinking. Here are some ways to know if someone is a binge drinker or a heavy drinker.
- Under age 65-Over 4 drinks/day or 14 drinks/week
- Over age 65-Over 3 drinks/day or over 7 drinks/week
- Consuming extreme quantities of alcohol in a very short period of time.
- Men 5+ drinks in less than 2 hours.
- Women 4+ drinks in less than 2 hours.
Has Alcohol Become a Problem in My Life?
Having a few too many or way too much occasionally does not always indicate you have a problem. True alcoholism is chronic and progressive. Here are some signs that someone’s drinking patterns may be alcoholic.
Mounting interpersonal issues do not curb your alcohol consumption
You drink even though the negative consequences continue to pile up. You find it easy to take the people around you for granted where drinking is concerned.
Trouble with the authorities
Getting a DUI. Arrest for public intoxication or fighting.
This might look like low performance at work or in school, not paying attention to your kids, or skipping commitments because you’re drunk or hung over.
Relieving stress with alcohol
Many people have a drink after a stressful day at work. Alcoholics can crave alcohol to handle situations normal people can face sober. This is because persistent use of alcohol affects the brain so that he or she is in a constant state of anxiety. Visit our blog to learn more. Once more, even in normal circumstances where normal drinkers have one drink to relax, an alcoholic cannot. One drink starts the physiological craving for more. That first cocktail leads to one more, then another and another.
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What is Alcoholism?
Alcoholism is the physical craving for alcohol that is triggered by the first drink, coupled with the obsession to drink alcohol regardless of the consequences.
Many alcoholics have the same experience: they are obsessed with the idea that they can drink like other people. Despite losing families, jobs, homes, and self-respect because of our drinking, we alcoholics cannot stop telling ourselves that we can have “just a few drinks.”
All alcoholics drink high quantities of alcohol. As with other drugs, with continued use we develop a tolerance. This means that it takes more and more alcohol to achieve the same results. The body becomes accustomed to having these quantities of alcohol in the system. When the levels are not what the body is used to, it goes into alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS).
Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome
- Persistent anxiety and fear
- Downhearted demeanor
- Shaky hands
- Bad dreams
- Foggy thinking
Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome can take a few hours or may manifest in a day or two.
The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous or even deadly in some cases.
If someone has been drinking very heavily for a long period of time, the body can go into delirium tremens, also called “DT’s.” Someone with delirium tremens can experience hallucinations, fever, confusion and even seizure. We highly recommend that those seeking recovery from alcoholism seek medically assisted detox. When a medical staff is available, the withdrawal symptoms are minimized in a safe environment. Medical monitoring will keep everyone safe and healthy through the alcohol detoxification process.
“A man who drinks too much on occasion is still the same man as he was sober. An alcoholic, a real alcoholic, is not the same man at all.”
So, can you be an alcoholic even if you have a job and healthy kids and a nice home?
Absolutely. Alcoholism touches the lives of the rich and the poor alike. Someone can have all the trappings of a “successful” life and still be secretly tortured by addiction to alcohol. There are only two questions you need ask yourself if you are wondering, “Am I an alcoholic?”
Do you find that you cannot stay away from alcohol no matter how much you want to?
When you have one drink, do you start craving more and more?
If your answer is yes. you probably are alcoholic. Take heart. It is not a death sentence. It is not something to be ashamed of. Many of us have found that admitting we are alcoholic started us on a journey to health and well-being we had never known. There is help out there. Call us for a consultation. We can find a solution for you. (800) 247-6111.