I like beer. I consider myself a beer connoisseur. I’m into dark beers and home brewing. I have friends who love wine. In a good way. Yes, yes I’m a substance abuse therapist, how could I possibly be into alcohol?? Or admit this out loud?
For the longest time, I cringed at the thought of running into a client at a bar. A couple of weeks back, a colleague of mine made a joke about my private Facebook updates that involved bars (hello, I’m 31 and don’t have any kids!). “If only your clients knew?” he said jokingly.
Friends will sometimes ask me“Do you think I drink too much?” Given my expertise they trust my answer. Most of the time it’s their friend who is answering so I’ll say something like “Not at all”.
If you are asking yourself the same question, what you are probably REALLY asking is “Do I have a drinking problem?” See, too much or too little is often subjective and doesn’t always determine whether or not you have a drinking problem. If you would be satisfied with a simplistic way of determining whether or not you have a problem with alcohol go here.
If you think your situation is more complex continue reading.
First, let’s start with asking the right questions. If you are wondering whether or not you have a drinking problem most likely something has happened to make you question your drinking habits. Maybe you are concerned. Maybe someone close to you is concerned.
And most importantly why now?
Have your drinking habits changed? How? In what way? Amount? Frequency? Type of alcohol? Who you drink with? Or where and what time of day?
Secondly, how is alcohol affecting your life? Are you missing work because of hangovers? Are you having trouble focusing on studies if you’re in school? Are you neglecting other household/work responsibilities? Have you gotten in trouble because of your drinking? Once you start drinking, do you find it hard/impossible to stop? Do you get sick from drinking or frequent hangovers? Does your social life revolve around drinking? Are people close to you concerned? Is it affecting your close relationships? Are you emotionally and physically tired of drinking?
Even if you answered yes to some of these questions, you may still have a different problem. I like to call it “I’m generally unhappy with my life” problem. You may be drinking too much however the issue is not the alcohol. Would you drink less if your life was different, if you were happier? Changing yourself and your life will get you to a point where alcohol is not as important to you.
Let’s be honest. Alcohol is everywhere. It’s legal. acceptable, even a hobby for some. Most people drink. Most people’s social life revolves around alcohol. So how do you know? If you have a drinking problem you’ll be the first to know. Your mind and your body will tell you so. You may ignore the signs and signals but they are there. Get honest with yourself first. Ask yourself the right questions. And if you’re still unsure reach out to a professional. They will be more than happy to help you figure this out.
P.S I took the alcohol screening test on the link above just out of curiosity and it said “you do not have a drinking problem”. What a relief!!