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by Nate Bailey, MA, LPC

Drinking alcohol can be a straightforward, unremarkable part of many people’s life. For others, drinking alcohol creates problems and causes conflict. Because we are often surrounded by so-called “normal” drinkers, it may be hard to admit to yourself (or others) that you’re starting to lose control.

It’s pretty common for an individual to have “rules” or lines they won’t cross which are self-imposed and lead them to believe “all is ok.” I’ve heard people say:

· “I never drink alone.”

· “I don’t drink before 5:00.”

· “I only drink wine, not hard liquor.”

· “I only drink on weekends.”

You may have had one of these thoughts or had others like it. Did you know that it’s possible for your drinking to be problematic and unhealthy even if these statements are true? If that’s the case, what are the real signs your drinking may be an issue?

8 Signs Your Drinking Might Be A Problem:

  • You find yourself self-imposing a limit on how much you’re planning to drink and still drinking more. Maybe you go to a party and think, “I’ll only have 3 drinks” and find yourself in the 6-8 range. Or maybe “I’ll stop drinking an hour before I leave” and find yourself drinking until the last minute (or you run out of something to drink). You’ve tried to cut down on the amount or frequency of your drinking and failed.
  • Someone has expressed concern about your drinking and it annoyed you. Maybe they’ve said something like “you’ve been drinking a lot more then you used to,” “you’re drinking almost every night” or “I really don’t like how you act after you’ve been drinking” and you felt they were being judgmental, critical or overreacting.
  • You find yourself hiding or being dishonest about how much you’re drinking or how often you are drinking.
  • Your drinking is causing problems with everyday life. You’re missing work, missing regular social and/or family events/responsibilities.
  • Your drinking is causing you physical problems. It has been affecting your health. You’ve had injuries because you were intoxicated.
  • You’ve had regrets about your drinking the day or night after. You are finding yourself having to apologize for what you did, said etc. Maybe you have had trouble recalling what happened.
  • You need to drink more to get the same “buzz” you once got with less.
  • There has been legal consequences for your drinking. Maybe you have received a DUI or citation for public drunkenness.

If you answered yes to one or more of these, it’s possible you need help with your drinking. Some people spend years drinking without an issue, but circumstances change. Others could have answered yes to any of these questions since the very beginning. Notice that these questions don’t focus on what you’re drinking or when you’re drinking. As I’ve talked with people who struggle to admit there’s a problem, I find they talk more about certain boundaries they haven’t crossed (in their own opinion) instead of the actual drinking behaviors that are causing problems. Or, they compare themselves with someone else (ex. “it’s not like I’m an alcoholic”) as if someone else’s problems mean they have none.

Start Addictions Therapy in Ambler, PA

At Lime Tree Counseling, I offer addictions counseling. I understand feeling trapped in your drinking, and shame in asking for help. We all struggle sometimes, and asking for help is the most courageous move. Being honest with yourself about what your drinking is or has become, really is the start of change. Don’t let guilt or shame keep you stuck; by getting help, you can live the life you were meant to live. Please contact us today to get started; you are not in this alone.

Please note, anyone looking to stop or decrease their drinking should always consult with a medical doctor. In some cases stopping “cold turkey” can potentially be life threatening.

Online Counseling in Pennsylvania

Our team of therapists at Lime Tree Counseling offer all our services online, via our secure, HIPAA compliant platform. If you are resident of PA looking for quality, expert counseling online, please contact our office today to schedule your first appointment, or a free 15 minute phone consultation. We specialize in PTSD & Trauma therapy, anxiety counseling, addictions treatment, and Christian counseling.