The very first and perhaps most difficult to overcome obstacle to getting help for a drinking problem is denial. The mind of someone who has developed a dependence on the substance will generate all kinds of excuses; since the brain has been tricked into believing that it needs alcohol, this habit of rationalization develops as a defense mechanism, shielding the problem from the person’s conscious awareness.
Compounding this issue is the fact that addiction doesn’t happen overnight, the onset can be gradual. This is basically the dilemma of the frog in boiling water; although it is easier to spot the major problems that alcoholism brings, sometimes the smaller ones fly under the radar.
Below is a list of seven telltale signs that alcohol is ruining your life.
Telltale Sign #1: Your Alcohol Use is Steadily Increasing
One of the most obvious signs that your use of alcohol is veering towards alcoholism is if your use of the drug is increasing over time, whether it be in the sheer amount that you’re consuming, the frequency of your consumption, or both. When someone develops a chemical dependence, they need to maintain the same effect in order to cover up whatever issues they’re struggling with. Because the body develops tolerance, this takes more and more of the drug as time goes on.
Telltale Sign #2: Your Job Performance Suffers
It’s hard to be responsible when you’re drunk a good portion of the time and hungover much of the rest of the time. If you are frequently late for work, missing time because you’d rather drink, having problems concentrating because you’re still recovering from the night before, or are forgetting to do important tasks, then you may have a problem. Ask yourself if your boss is frequently mad at you, if you’ve been fired, or if your productivity is just not what it used to be.
Telltale Sign #3: You Spend a Disproportionate Amount of Your Income on Booze
Another easy way to gauge whether or not alcohol has become a problem for you is to simply look through your financial records and see just how much of it you’re buying. You could even couple this with the first sign and see if the amount of money that you’ve been spending on alcohol has been increasing. They say that what you spend your money on reveals a lot about what’s important to you. If your bank statement shows that alcohol has become more important in your life than it ought to be, then you might want to take notice.
Telltale Sign #4: You Have No Other Hobbies
As your psychological dependence on alcohol increases, the pleasure that you get from other activities decreases. You lose interest in things that you used to enjoy, whether it’s hanging out with friends, playing sports, or painting. One way to measure the progression of alcohol addiction is by how much of your time it consumes, slowly but surely taking away from other aspects of your life. If you notice that you’ve discontinued things that you used to do in your spare time because you’d rather drink, that is a red flag.
Telltale Sign #5: Your Relationships Have Decreased Both in Quality and Quantity
One way to measure the quality of your life is the quality of your relationships. Another way to tell if alcohol is ruining your life is if it is ruining your connection to other people. Alcoholics tend to become very isolated, whether it is because they walk away from others to spend more time drinking, or because others walked away because of their inappropriate or irresponsible behavior. Beyond that, the problem’s drinker’s relationships with the people who do stick around are often strained. Alcohol can make you detached, argumentative, or just plain mean. If you can’t think of someone that you currently have a good, close relationship with, that’s a warning sign.
Telltale Sign #6: You Have Frequent Legal Issues
Alcohol disinhibits you, which leads to impulse control problems and poor judgement. Besides that, the denial of the problem can so strong that you might get behind the wheel even if you’re drunk. If you have a history of getting DWIs or DUIs, have been arrested because of things you’ve done while intoxicated, or otherwise been sued, and this hasn’t stopped you from drinking, it’s a good indication that alcohol is ruining your life.
Telltale Sign #7: You Deny That All of These Problems Are Due to Drinking
It bears repeating: the ultimate sign of addiction is denial. If the suggestion that alcohol is at the root of your problems immediately fills you with anger, and you mind starts flooding with alternative explanations and justifications, then that’s a pretty good sign that alcohol is ruining your life.
Where to Go from Here
If you think that you might have a problem, you can go here to search for meetings in your area. If you’re interested in seeking out medical help for your alcohol addiction, look at this page for a comparison of rehab versus outpatient care.