There’s alcohol everywhere you go. You can even order it for delivery through courier apps. It’s not illegal to purchase for people over the age of 21, and you can use it in legal establishments open to the public. Alcohol is often regarded as a normal American pastime, and its use is celebrated throughout pop culture. The aura around drinking would almost imply that it’s perfectly safe, if not at least a good thing to do.
This free and open attitude toward alcohol makes it easy to turn the average person into an alcoholic. Someone who abuses alcohol may never abuse drugs. They might hate the idea of cigarette smoking. Alcohol is an atypical drug, and the addiction to it can catch many people by surprise.
If you’re worried that your relationship with alcohol is becoming problematic, it may be time to assess your relationship with drinking and consider some actionable steps to reduce your alcohol consumption or seek help to safely detox from alcohol.
Drinking Too Much
Many people with alcohol use disorder don’t feel as though they’re drinking too much. Some people can still function, even after they’ve exceeded the recommended limits for alcohol consumption. The heavy use limits are defined as more than 3 alcoholic drinks per day for a woman, or more than 4 alcoholic drinks per day for a man.
People with alcohol use disorders typically exceed these minimums. You may also be drinking too much if you drink less than the amount, but drink every single day. There is no safe or healthy amount of alcohol to consume.
Drinking Too Frequently
Some people like to have a glass of wine with dinner, and they’ll do so every night. This is considered frequent drinking, but if you’re only having one drink, you’re likely not reaching the point of intoxication.
If you have multiple alcoholic drinks most days of the week, you’re drinking too frequently. Even if you take a day off here or there, you’re still consuming more alcohol than your body can fully recover from. You might notice that the days you don’t drink, you still want to. You have an urge to consume alcohol every day, and you sorely miss it when it’s not a part of your routine.
The Temptation To Drink at Inappropriate Times
The case can easily be made that after someone is done with work and their household chores, everything else is free time. If they want to have a drink, the best time to do so is when it’s not at the expense of an important responsibility. People with alcohol use disorders tend to lose sight of this priority system.
If you feel tempted to drink while you’re on the clock at work or at any time that may interfere with your personal responsibilities, you’re drinking at an inappropriate time. Even if you drink a minimal amount and are able to complete important tasks, you should still have no problem abstaining from alcohol until after the days’ work is done.
Losing Time or Blacking Out
If you drink alcohol faster than your body can process it, there are a number of critically important internal processes that can severely malfunction. One of which is your ability to convert short term memory into long term memory. If you drink without restraint, you can be up and walking around. You can talk to people, eat dinner, pay your tab, and leave the bar.
Then you can wake up and not know how you got home, or even where you are. You only had enough of a working memory to create a single task at a time. When you were done, your brain stored no record of the tasks you completed or how you completed them. This is a highly dangerous situation.
You might wake up disoriented in a strange place. You can lose your personal belongings. You can harm yourself or someone else. You might have understood why you made the decisions you made in the moment, but without any long term memory to recollect them, you may never understand what you were up to.
Engaging in Reckless Behavior
People with alcohol use disorder are accustomed to being intoxicated, which may give them a false sense of confidence. You might feel like you’re a professional at handling your alcohol, so you decide to drive your car. The problem is that everyone is a horrible and dangerous drunk driver, whether or not they believe it.
Alcohol puts you in a state of mind where you’re less likely to fear the consequences of your actions, and as a result, you might make reckless choices without a second thought.
You might cave into whims other than driving that can come with very serious consequences. Vandalizing a building or car, engaging in unprotected sex when you aren’t deliberately trying to conceive a child, getting into a physical alteraction with someone who makes you angry, or making aggressive unwanted advances at someone are all things that polite society doesn’t condone.
When you’re drunk all the time, you may not see the inherent dangers or potential consequences of following bad impulses.
Feeling Sick When You Don’t Drink
If you begin to feel shaky, feverish, or otherwise ill when you haven’t had a drink in 8 to 12 hours, this is a sign that you’ve developed a physical dependence on alcohol. These signs are different from a hangover. If your symptoms go away with a cup of coffee, a lot of water, some electrolytes and a big meal, they aren’t withdrawal symptoms.
If the symptoms persist or worsen no matter what you do, to the point where you feel as though you have no other choice but to drink, this is indicative of alcohol dependence that develops from alcohol use disorder.
People React With Concern
When other people tell you how to live your life, it can feel invasive. You don’t want people prying into your business or speculating that you have a problem. You certainly don’t want them telling you what to do about it, especially if you haven’t asked anyone for help or advice.
People with alcohol use disorder often hear from their friends and family that they’re drinking a little too much. They often react to this concern by immediately becoming defensive and offended, because the implication is that they are in some way incompetent.
The truth is that people wouldn’t be telling you to stop drinking if they didn’t love you or care about you. They’re telling you because they would be devastated to wake up one morning to a world you were no longer in. They’re scared, and they’re trying their best to encourage you to get help because you mean so much to them.
If you’re beginning to realize that your relationship with alcohol has elevated from innocuous to insidious, it’s time to get help. You might feel as though you have the willpower and determination to do it alone, and you may very well be ready enough to make that change.
The only problem is that detoxing from alcohol without a professional can be extremely dangerous. Although it is rare, alcohol withdrawal can have fatal consequences if not properly monitored.
Detoxing From Alcohol
Alcohol severely suppresses the brain’s neurotransmitters. They work hard to maintain normal levels of the chemicals needed for survival when alcohol constantly deadens them. When alcohol is removed from the equation, the neurotransmitters begin scrambling. They release too much of certain hormones and endorphins, and they’ll take a while to normalize hormone production.
When this surge of chemicals begins to flood the body, the side effects can be intense. In some cases, patients experience seizures from the imbalanced chemicals in their brains. Rapid heartbeat, vomiting, nausea, anxiety, and even hallucinations can occur. This situation requires constant medical monitoring for the safety of the patient. It’s best to seek inpatient detoxification treatment to minimize the risks associated with alcohol withdrawal.
The Recovery Treatment Process
Detoxing from alcohol is merely one facet of a much larger process. Removing all the alcohol from the body and reversing some of its impact is a great first step, but it’s not the end of the line. People with alcohol use disorder need to unearth the cause of their unhealthy habits and come up with healthier habits or coping mechanisms to prevent them from turning back to alcohol.
In alcohol rehab, you’ll speak with a therapist who specializes in addiction. He or she will use a combination of individual therapy and group therapy to help you understand your behavior patterns and acknowledge problematic actions that keep you from being healthy. You can work together to develop a long term plan for your life without alcohol.
If you’re uncomfortable with the amount you’re drinking or if you feel as though your drinking habit has gotten out of control, it’s best to act immediately.
The first step is speaking with a certified rehabilitation facility to determine whether or not you’ll need medically supervised detox. The next step is facilitating a long term recovery plan to help you maintain your sobriety once you’ve gotten well.
The sooner you act, the better off you’ll be.