There is a fine line between alcohol use, abuse and addiction and even in the case of addiction, high-functioning alcoholics appear to have it all together until their alcohol use has serious physical and psychological effects. It’s become ‘normal’ to have that after work glass of wine but the reality is that for many, that one glass has turned into a bottle, drinking on weekends has turned into week days too and besides we need it to relax, it’s our social lubricant. So really, when it comes to alcohol how much is too much? The list and questions below will help you find out whether or not your alcohol use is a problem:
The symptoms of alcoholism
- Loss of control: Do you struggle to stop drinking after the first drink? Alcoholics lack the normal control function to set or limit the number of drinks they want to have.
- Tolerance: Do you find yourself needing to drink larger volumes during each session to get the same result that you experienced previously? If you are an alcoholic, you may find that you can drink more than others and be less drunk!
- Withdrawal: When you sober up, do you experience physical withdrawal, including headache, tremors, nausea, chest pressure, shortness of breath, restlessness, high pulse rate, weakness, guilt feelings and anxiety? I
- Tonic: Do you take an alcoholic drink immediately after waking from a bender to cushion the withdrawals?
- Reserves: Do you guards against running out of alcohol by always having enough on hand? An alcoholic often hides alcohol.
- Obsession: Do you find obtaining and drinking alcohol are prioritised and take up a lot of time?
- Employment: Poor productivity, absenteeism and dismissal from work.
- Isolation: The family’s social network crumbles. Friends do not invite them. Family does not invite friends, fearing they will be embarrassed.
- Relationships: Marriages often end in divorce. Children disrespect the alcoholic.
- Perseverance: Despite being aware of the harm, alcoholics continue drinking.
- Risk taking: Drinking and driving, unsafe sex, stumbling/falling, physical aggression, drunken “daredevil” stunts, accidents, arrest and imprisonment.
- Balance: Loss of bodily balance when walking or standing.
- Muscle control: Inability to hold outstretched arms steady, uncoordinated movement of body parts.
- Intellect: Sluggish thinking, poor reflexes, impaired judgment.
- Blackout: Memory loss – forgets notable things they did or that happened while intoxicated.
- Dehydration: Alcohol is a diuretic (a chemical that removes water from the body). Apart from that, vomiting and diarrhea dehydrates the body. Dehydration causes a chain of deadly events.
- Elements: Alcohol breaks down vitamins, enzymes and minerals. Vomiting also flushes these elements from the body. Unless it is replaced, the results can be terminal.
- Organs: All organs are damaged to an extent, but the most critical damage is to the brain, heart, pancreas, stomach and liver. Can result in death.
Treatment for alcoholism
Alcoholics can be clever, creative and manipulative. Only in rare cases do they readily agree to submit to treatment. They do not consider alcohol to be as “bad” as other drugs. They are very scared of the withdrawals, so they are not easily swayed to go for treatment.
They will dismiss your concerns as childish nonsense. They will remind you that they are acting responsibly by contributing household money (to justify the alcohol spend). If you persist, they may react aggressively.
At best, they will promise to reduce their intake. They may even go as far as stopping. This will only last for a while, as they are not equipped to abandon the drinking habit for extended periods. They may even resort to drinking secretly. (Only the latest therapeutic treatment can prepare them properly for longer term sobriety.)
There are tried and tested intervention techniques which were developed to convince alcoholics to voluntarily submit themselves for treatment. If you require advice or assistance with this, please feel free to phone the number at the top of this page for advice or to arrange a confidential appointment with a professional therapist.