One in 13 adults in the United States has a drinking problem. This is nearly 14 million people, although a few million more are partaking in risky drinking that could use to abuse.
If you’re worried that you could be one of these people, this article is for you. Keep reading to learn the key signs you’re drinking too much- and what to do about it.
Ready? Let’s get started.
How Much Alcohol is Too Much?
For men, more than 4 drinks on any day, or 14 total for a week is considered ‘heavy’ or ‘at-risk’ drinking.
For women, this is more than 3 drinks a day or 7 a week. Approximately 1 in 4 people who are exceeding these limits are considered to have an alcohol use disorder. The remaining people are at risk of developing these problems.
Of course, alcohol impacts everyone differently. And there are 5 clear signs that you may be drinking too much. Keep reading to learn what they are.
5 Signs You’re Drinking Too Much
As a guideline, anytime alcohol is impacting your life negatively, you’re likely drinking too much. But here are some other signs to consider:
1. You’re Making Bad Decisions
Since alcohol lowers your inhibitions, it’s common to find that you’re making bad or risky decisions when you drink. From dancing on tabletops to kissing people you shouldn’t, these are the types of things you usually wouldn’t do sober.
Some of these decisions can have severe, life-changing consequences. For example, if you decide to get behind the wheel of a car, you could crash, injuring or even killing yourself or someone else. At the very least, you may end up with a DUI which can come with serious penalties.
If you become a daredevil when you drink, you may have worse repercussions than simply feeling embarrassed the next day. If you’re waking up thinking “What did I do?” this is a good sign you’re drinking too much.
2. You Can’t Limit Yourself
If you tell yourself you’re not going to drink too much (or at all) before social events, but you always do, you may have a problem.
For many people, certain situations, places, and people can at as triggers that make it more likely you’ll overindulge.
If you’ve tried to cut back on your drinking, but you’re finding it difficult or impossible, you may have an alcohol dependency. It’s a good idea to think about what types of situations trigger you and try to avoid them.
Instead of going out to a party or happy hour, look for activities that will be alcohol-free. If this is difficult, talk to a friend who can help you when you’re feeling the urge to drink.
3. People Talk About Your Drinking
If people are commenting on how much you can drink, or how much alcohol you can ‘handle,’ don’t be proud. This means that you’ve built up a slight tolerance to alcohol and you’re drinking much more than most people.
If your friends, coworkers, or family have hinted (or straight-out told you) that they’re concerned, now’s the time to start cutting back.
The first step is to recognize that with today’s large drinking culture, they wouldn’t be mentioning it if you weren’t drinking much more than the average.
Next, set some goals for your next social event. Tell a friend or your partner how many drinks you’re limiting yourself to before you get there. That way, it’s easier to hold yourself accountable- because someone else is as well.
4. Your Health is Declining
Drinking too much alcohol can have a severe impact on your health. There are a few warning signs to watch out for here. One of the most common is weight gain. If you’re finding it a little more difficult to get into your skinny jeans than usual, the culprit may be those margaritas.
Alcohol has a lot of calories, and it’s not uncommon to find that you’ve gone up a dress size or two. You also tend to make poor food choices while drunk, and most people are guilty of reaching for ‘hangover food’ the next day.
You may also notice that your hair begins thinning. When you’re drinking too much alcohol, hair loss is common because your body finds it difficult to absorb nutrients. This leads to lower levels of potassium, magnesium, and zinc. You can find additional info here.
5. You’re Not Meeting Your Responsibilities
Drinking too much alcohol can mean you’ll begin to neglect the things that are most important to you.
You may normally be a great parent, but too many drinks at dinner can make it difficult to put the kids to bed. Or you may get up too late to take them to soccer.
Even if you prioritize your health and fitness, you may find that you’re missing workouts with friends or canceling on your trainer. Another sign is if you’re calling in sick to work, you’re not productive or only doing the bare minimum because you’re constantly hungover.
If your need to drink seems more important than anything else, and you’re prioritizing it over things that are usually the most important to you, you may need help.
How to Get Help
If you can relate to one or more of these signs, it’s time to get help. This doesn’t mean you’re weak- if anything it’s the opposite. It takes strength to admit you have a problem and get the help you need.
Options include in-patient and out-patient rehab, Alcoholics Anonymous, behavioral therapies, and other support groups. Some medications have also been used to help people reduce or stop their drinking, so consider talking to your doctor.
Alcohol can seem like an intrinsic part of any social situation. There are opportunities to drink at every turn, making it difficult to see when you have a problem- particularly when everyone else is drinking.
If you found yourself nodding along with the above signs you’re drinking too much, it may be time to talk to a professional.
Finding it difficult to stay productive? Check out some of our productivity articles today.