Ask Susan – How Do I Know If I Am Drinking Too Much?

 

 

Submitted by Susan Jane Smith B.Sc.

 

This is one of the self-help e-books available via our Store Page if you would like a more comprehensive look at alcoholism.

 

I was a Psychotherapist in private practice for over 20 years and one of the saddest things I have seen all too often is a very bright, capable, sensitive person who has been medicating depression for years with alcohol.

 

Is it possible that you do that?  Do you drink when you are feeling down in order to try to feel better?  If so please check out www.depressionalliance.org

 

You can start out using it to lift your spirits and then the alcohol in and of itself becomes a problem. Classically, alcoholic denial gets in the way.  Is it a hard task for you to face how much you are drinking?  Please read my self-help e-book My Drinking Isn’t A Problem available in the Healthy Emotions store or via Amazon.

 

“My drinking isn’t a problem” is a frequent statement and I was always suspicious of it as it sounds like ‘alcoholic denial’.  In counselling it occurred most when a couple came in  to work on their relationship, and the wife (sorry for the stereotype) said “his drinking is a problem” and the husband responded “my drinking’s not a problem”!

 

I frequently had people into my office whose lives were being wrecked by too much alcohol consumption, their own or someone else’s. The things clients have said are “I’m not falling down drunk”, “I can handle it” (even though they don’t remember being violent to their partner/children whilst under the influence), “I don’t drink first thing in the morning”. Lovely ideas – they simply don’t work! Someone can be in the early stages of alcoholism and in trouble with their drinking pattern without recognising it. Have you said any of these things?

 

There can still be difficulties in dealing with denial even if the alcoholic verbally acknowledges that drink is a problem. Many people’s ideas of a drunk are actually late

stage alcoholism. Why wait until then to get help?

 

Here are the questions I asked in my office to get people assessing their drinking.  Please ask yourself:-

1) Do I relieve tension, anxiety or stress by drinking?

2) Do I drink to escape from problems or worries or to make myself feel better?

3) Have I made promises to quit that I have broken?

4) Do I have to drink more now to feel good than I did three years ago?

5) Can I stop after the first drink?

6) Have I ever put off work or missed work because of drinking?

7) Do I ever drink alone?

8) Do I ever drink to help me sleep?

9) Do I have three consecutive days in every week when I have absolutely no alcohol – that means no wine, no beer, and no spirits?

10) Do I eat nutritionally balanced meals three times each and every day?

11) Do I snack on sweets or sugary foods?

12) Do I have diarrhea, nausea or indigestion after drinking?

13) Do I drink more than one cup of black coffee a day?

14) Do I take more than two teaspoons of sugar in tea/coffee?

15) Do I tend towards other addictive patterns, i.e. cigarettes, drugs, compulsive sex, obsessive relationships, disordered eating?

16) Do I drink more than my friends?

17) Have I ever fallen down whilst drinking?

18) Do I ever sneak a drink?

19) Do I ever try and hide my drinking from family/partner?

20) Do I gulp down my drink?

21) Do I ever think I drink too much?

22) Do I ever feel a need for that first drink?

23) Do I ever feel isolated/alone?

24) Do I ever feel guilty about drinking?

25) Do I think about/plan my drinking?

26) Do I ever feel the need to telephone people when I am drinking – even if it’s in the middle of the night?

27) Am I willing to discuss my drinking with my partner/family?

28) Do I minimise the amount of alcohol I drink?

29) Do I drink at evenings and weekends only?

30) Have I ever had a blackout or not remembered details of the night before?

31) Do I make excuses/reasons to explain my drinking?

32) Do I become easily upset/belligerent if anyone complains or questions my drinking?

33) Do I feel like I can’t get through the day without a drink?

34) Have I lost all my ambition?

35) Do I become more jealous or defensive than I used to do?

36) Would my family say I am harder to get along with than I used to be?

37) Have I abstained for a couple of days or weeks to ‘prove’ I am not addicted?

38) Have I had an accident whilst drinking and maybe not even realised it eg burned myself?

39) Have I experienced a change in my pattern of drinking? *

40) Do I experience being morose or persistently remorseful?*

41) Have my efforts to reduce my alcohol consumption failed repeatedly?*

42) Have I started hiding alcohol around the house/my place of work?*

43) Have I tried without success changing home, job, lifestyle to help reduce my alcohol?*

44) Is having a drink more important to me than anything else?*

45) Do I feel protective about having a supply of alcohol available?*

46) Do I feel the need for a drink in the morning?*

47) Have I lost friends or relationships because of my drinking?*

48) Have I lost job opportunities because of my drinking?*

from ImagesBuddy.com
from ImagesBuddy.com

49) Am I sometimes extravagant when drinking?*

50) Do I go on to water or non-alcoholic drinks but find it impossible to stay with

just them?*

51) Has anyone suggested I seek hospitalisation/detox?*

52) Have I discussed my situation with my medical doctor without any sustainable intervention?*

53) Am I drinking for days at a time with little break or drinking huge amounts of alcohol in one evening?*

54) Do I drink all afternoon and then all evening?*

55) Have I started to lose my ethics? Am I now willing to do whatever it takes to get my supply of alcohol?*

56) Have I ever lied or stolen in order to get alcohol?*

57) Do I show signs of being intoxicated on lower amounts of alcohol than

I used to do?*

58) Do I have a pattern of just “topping up” where I never truly get the alcohol out of my system?*

59) Have I started to notice any physical or emotional changes in myself?* Have other people said I’ve changed?*

60) Am I getting trembling hands or my limbs shaking?*

61) Do I think people are watching me?*

62) Do I think people are out to get me?*

63) Do I get afraid for no real reason?*

64) Do I have trouble doing simple tasks like tying my shoes without first having a drink?*

65) How much do I actually drink each week?

 

In my opinion, the safest guideline to use for your alcohol consumption is a maximum of 21 units a week for a man and 14 for a woman. (1 unit = 1/2 pint beer, cider, lager or small wine, or single spirit). If you are over this line be concerned!

 

Also, if you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions please go to your doctor to discuss this in detail. Warning: Questions marked number * are potentially linked to late stage alcoholism – seek treatment immediately!

 

Most people appear to link drinking to excess with liver disease. Are you overlooking  that it can be a factor in high blood pressure, cancer of the mouth, throat and gullet, let alone alcoholic dementia (where the damage to the brain cells can be permanent)?

 

Alcohol depresses the nervous system and thus is considered a drug. It can create mood swings. It takes the edge off anxiety and relaxes inhibitions, but there are other ways of achieving that!

 

I think it is important to accept that someone who is in trouble with their drinking has an overwhelming compulsion to drink. It is not that they are weak-willed – they are ill. Alcoholism is a disease recognised by the World Health Organisation.

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