Am I an Alcoholic: How Can You Tell?

Jan 2020 Am I an Alcoholic: How Can You Tell?

“Am I an alcoholic?” It’s an important question to ask because alcohol use puts you at risk in many ways. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that on average more than 22,000 people die each year from alcoholic liver diseases. Another almost 40,000 die of alcohol-induced deaths, not counting accidents.

Those numbers should worry anyone that drinks alcohol in excess. How can you get an answer to the question, “Am I an alcoholic?”

Understanding Alcoholism

The first step is to understand the question entirely. Some people think of an alcoholic as someone that drinks every day. That’s not accurate, though. People can be alcoholics even if they drink occasionally. That’s something to keep in mind when you ask, “Am I an alcoholic?”

An alcoholic is someone that drinks in excess, whether it’s in one sitting (binge drinking) or throughout the week (chronic drinking). The CDC defines binge drinking as four or more drinks in one day for women and five or more for men. Excessive, chronic drinking is eight or more drinks in a week for women and 15 or more for men.

How Can You Tell if You are an Alcoholic?

No two people experience any addiction the same way, but there are some common clues. For example, do you hide the fact that you drink? Do you have problems remembering what happens when you do? Are you drinking because you give in to an urge? Do you binge drink, consume a large amount of alcohol in a short time?

Am I an Alcoholic When I Hide What I Drink?

Everyone knows the parent at the soccer game whose water bottle contains something a little stronger. Is this someone with an alcohol problem? That’s not necessarily the case. However, it could be a sign of a problem.

When you hide what you’re drinking because it embarrasses you, it shows that you feel there’s something wrong. You might be an alcoholic if you feel such a strong compulsion to drink that you’ll camouflage the liquid. However, you can’t help yourself. You think that you need to have it.

Other Signs of an Alcohol Problem

Am I an alcoholic if I wake up to withdrawal symptoms? The shakes, stomach cramps, and irritability are withdrawal symptoms. Do you experience them and then have a drink to make them go away? If so, there’s a good chance that you have a chemical dependency on alcohol.

At the alcohol addiction rehab center Southern CA trusts, therapists routinely work with people who thought things were under control. Maybe you just had a few drinks at night to relax. Over time, you drank more and more because your body developed a tolerance. Suddenly, there was a shift, and you needed the alcohol to make it through the day.

How is Alcoholism Diagnosed?

Medically, alcoholism is alcohol use disorder (AUD). It means having a desire or physical need to drink even though it may negatively affect your life.

According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, to have AUD, you need to meet any two of 11 criteria which include:

  • Drink more or longer than you intended
  • Want to cut down and couldn’t
  • Spent a lot of time drinking alcohol or hungover
  • Have had cravings or urges to drink
  • Had drinking or hangovers interfere with your life
  • Continue to drink despite the problems it causes
  • Put yourself in potentially dangerous situations after drinking
  • Had blackouts

Those are just a few of the questions a medical professional would ask to diagnose AUD.

What Causes Alcoholism?

Alcohol interferes with the chemical balance of the brain, specifically, the neurotransmitters GABA and dopamine. Dependence on alcohol relates to dopamine levels. Dopamine is the feel-good chemical. When you drink, your dopamine levels rise. Over time, your body starts to want that increase in dopamine, so it sends out urges that drive you to consume alcohol.

Of course, not every person who drinks alcohol becomes dependent on it. Some factors increase your risks like family history and the age you first start drinking.

What are the Risks of Being an Alcoholic?

Alcoholism comes with long-term risks like heart disease, high blood pressure, liver disease, and digestive problems. It may lead to certain cancers, too, such as breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon. It also increases your odds of developing dementia.

If you suspect you are an alcoholic, now is the time to get treatment. Phoenix Rising is a treatment facility that sits on a four-acre ranch in Palm Springs, California. Our alcohol addiction rehab center provides not just treatment for your alcohol use disorder but a chance at renewal, as well.

Services at Phoenix Rising include:

While a client there, you also have access to luxury amenities such as an in-house pool, jacuzzi, gym, rec room, and equine therapy. Phoenix Rising offers extended care programs, meaning they last at least 90 days for the best chance at recovery.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment Center in Palm Springs, CA

Don’t live your life continuously asking the question, “Am I an alcoholic?” There are various treatment options to help individuals overcome alcohol addiction. Call us today at (855) 232-8211 to set up an appointment and evaluation. We can help you find an answer and get the treatment you need to feel better.