Ok, so what exactly is an alcoholic? This sounds like a simple enough question, but the truth is, many people don’t really know. Alcoholics are frequently portrayed as jobless, homeless criminals — folks with wrecked homes and no friends, along with a laundry list of other unsavory stereotypes. And true, this demographic tends to include a lot of alcoholics and drug addicts. But maybe you have a great job, you’ve never gotten a DUI, your marriage is intact, you have tons of friends, and you’ve never even stolen a pack of gum. You couldn’t be an alcoholic, right?
The truth is, alcoholism is not a black and white disease. There are plenty of high-functioning alcoholics who manage to keep their good jobs and their white-picket fence homes, all while staying in their picture perfect marriages, or doing whatever else it is that society deems acceptable behavior. And you very well may, too. So just how can you determine whether or not you, yourself, are an alcoholic?
We’re not here to take anyone’s inventory, by the way. In other words, it’s really up to you to decide whether or not you identify as an addict of any variety. But here are some signs that can help you determine whether or not you fall on the “problem-drinking” spectrum:
1. You often black out when you drink.
Blackout drinking is a form of alcohol-induced amnesia where subjects are capable of participating in salient, emotionally charged events — along with less significant events — with no recollection of them later. This can include things like driving a car, engaging in somewhat coherent conversations, taking the dog out for a 3am walk (because that’s not weird), and maybe successfully getting through the condiments aisle without breaking a jar of mayo on a late-night grocery run. While blackout drinking isn’t limited to alcoholics, experiencing frequent alcohol-induced blackouts is a pretty telltale indication that you’ve got a drinking problem. The blood-alcohol level of subjects who’ve blacked out typically falls within the 14% (low end) – 20% range or higher. If you’re not familiar with BAC levels, that’s a LOT. BAC levels as low as 5% will get you a DUI (driving under the influence) in some countries. If you’re blacking out often, it means your drinking nearly 3 times as much (at least), and it might be a good time to start looking at your drinking habits.
2. You always make a beeline for the bar because you don’t feel comfortable in crowds without social lubricant.
Maybe you’re just shy. Alcohol isn’t the healthiest crutch, but some people truly do feel the need to have a drink or two in order to take the edge off when they’re uncomfortable. If it’s a habit, however, then this dependence of yours might start to raise some eyebrows and could have a pretty negative effect on your health and overall ability to function normally. If this sounds like you, then you could have a drinking problem on your hands.
3. The people you’re closest to are expressing concern.
Ok, so you may just have a friend that’s anti-alcohol and doesn’t like it when you drink. If there are only one or two people in your life who don’t love your drinking, and you’re truly not worried, this is one thing. But when your family, close friends, and coworkers are all beginning to suggest to you that they’re worried about your binges, odds are it’s time to slow down. Your loved ones know you better than anyone, and if enough of them think that your behavior is out of hand, then it probably is. Try putting down the bottle for a while. Can you do it? If not, then hey, guess what? Time to check that old drinking habit of yours.
4. You start to neglect some (or many) of the things that are important to you.
A once-in-a-blue-moon Sunday morning hangover after your bestie’s bachelorette party, or your best guy’s 21st b-day bash in Las Vegas, is not really a major cause for concern. But if you’re starting to skip work on the regular, missing your kids’ school plays, and regularly ditching your beloved yoga practice because you’re drunk or hungover all the time, this is a red flag. Again, having the occasional alcohol-related slip-up is not a huge deal. If, on the other hand, you’re sabotaging work relationships, personal relationships, family responsibilities, and the things that are most important to your overall well-being, it’s time to take a good, hard look at your habits.
5. You need more booze to get your buzz on.
This is a biggie. If you’re starting to notice a significant increase in your alcohol tolerance, it’s probably because you’re regularly consuming an unhealthy amount of booze. Some medications can also have an effect on alcohol tolerance, but this is also something to be mindful of. If you’re taking anything that impacts your alcohol tolerance and you’re increasing your booze intake to compensate, your health could be at risk. Diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver, and dehydration are just a few common (and negative) side effects of too much alcohol consumption. If you can recognize this and scale back, then great. If, however, you can’t seem to stop despite the impact on your health then, once again, it’s time to look at that drinking habit of yours.
6. You drink alone. A lot.
This one is kind of a no-brainer. Sure, maybe you’re an artist who’s more inspired with wine, or a writer whose most brilliant novels are written with the aid of whiskey, or a beatnik with a hankering for solo scotch-on-the-rocks Sundays. And maybe these things are working for you. Honestly, this is only for you to decide. But lots of drinking alone usually means you’re hiding your habit from others. This is merely a generalization, but if your gut is telling you that the habit is a slippery one, then it probably is.
Are you finding it hard to quit drinking? Kembali is here to help.
If you think you might have a problem with alcohol, or if someone that you love just can’t seem to put down the bottle, Kembali is here to help. As one of Southeast Asia’s most affordable luxury rehabilitation centers, we are located in the heart of Bali, Indonesia, and we specialize in both drug and alcohol addiction. Recovery begins with the simple awareness of a potential problem, and we’re here to help you get started on your journey. Contact us today to learn more about our four-week treatment program. It could very well change (and save) your life.