Understanding Alcohol and its Effects on Your Life
When I was an expat in Tokyo, I noticed that there was a lot of drinking among the women. (Everyone really.) Now I live in a retirement community. Same thing. It makes you stop and think about how much is too much? And why people in these situations drink so much.
Alcohol is a common part of many people’s lives, but when drinking becomes excessive, it can start to have negative effects on your health, relationships, and overall quality of life. In this blog, we’ll explore the signs that you may be drinking too much, what it means to be an alcoholic, and the steps you can take to seek help and support. Awareness is always the first step in changing a behavior.
Signs that You May be Drinking Too Much
Drinking More Than You Intended: If you often find yourself drinking more than you planned or drinking until you feel drunk, this may be a sign of a drinking problem. It does help if you decide ahead of time how many drinks you will have before you switch to, perhaps, club soda.
Withdrawal Symptoms: If you experience physical and emotional symptoms when you stop drinking, such as headaches, anxiety, or irritability, this may be a sign of alcohol dependence. Drinking lots of water is good for your body and can help you drink less and process what you take in better.
Prioritizing Drinking: If drinking has become more important to you than other things in your life, such as your family, work, or hobbies, so things fall through the cracks more, this may be a sign of a problem.
Negative Effects on Relationships: If your drinking has caused problems in your relationships, such as arguments or conflict, this may be a sign that you are using alcohol as a coping mechanism to deal with life stressors.
Physical Health Problems: If you experience physical health problems as a result of your drinking, such as liver damage or high blood pressure, this may be a sign of alcoholism.
What it Means to be an Alcoholic
Alcoholism, or alcohol dependence, is a chronic condition characterized by a strong urge to drink, the inability to control drinking, and the development of physical and psychological dependence on alcohol. People with alcoholism may drink despite the negative effects it has on their lives, and may continue to drink even when it leads to serious health problems, financial difficulties, or relationship problems. It’s time to consider how to make some changes.
Steps to Seek Help and Support
Talk to a Healthcare Provider: If you think you may be drinking too much, it’s important to talk to a healthcare provider. They can help you assess your drinking habits and recommend treatment options if necessary. Too much alcohol impacts your nutrition, so it may be a good idea to focus on creating a healthier eating plan for you to make sure you have enough good stuff going in.
Consider Seeking Professional Help: If you think you may be an alcoholic, consider seeking professional help, such as therapy or a rehabilitation program. Therapy is a great way to uncover the feelings that you are trying to cover with the alcohol. It can help you choose more powerful thoughts which leads to more healthy behaviors. As a therapist for 30 years, I understand how using new coping tools can make a huge difference in your life.
Join a Support Group: Support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), can provide you with a community of people who understand what you’re going through and can offer support and encouragement as you work to overcome your dependence on alcohol.
Make Changes to Your Lifestyle: Making changes to your lifestyle, such as reducing stress, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in regular exercise, can help you reduce your dependence on alcohol and improve your overall health and well-being. If you notice that you are drinking to relieve stress, it particularly helps if you purposely choose something else. Take a walk, listen to music, turn up the music and dance.
Seek Support from Loved Ones: Finally, seeking support from loved ones, such as family members or close friends, can be a key part of overcoming alcohol dependence. Let your loved ones know that you’re seeking help and ask for their support as you work to overcome your dependence on alcohol.
If you think you may be drinking too much, it’s important to seek help and support. Whether it’s through a healthcare provider, professional help, a support group, lifestyle changes, or the support of loved ones, there are many resources available to help you overcome your dependence on alcohol and live a healthier, happier life.
Keep in mind that patterns that you find yourself in also affect others. If they are comfortable in those patterns such as going out drinking after work, or communication systems at home, they may actually resist changes you want to make. So if you feel resistance, don’t give up; that’s especially when you want to reach out to a professional that is not influenced by the “systems” in your life.
Action Step: If you are concerned about your drinking, start by being more mindful about the thoughts you are thinking and what you do to alleviate stress. Decide to choose different thoughts. Your actions follow your thoughts which follow your feelings.