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The Thin Line Between Drinking Too Much and Alcoholism

We all have friends who enjoy letting loose on the weekend. They are the first to announce company happy hours, always offering to be the one at the bar ordering drinks and begging us to keep the night going on strong well after last call. In short, they’re the life of the party.

Yet, sometimes our friend or family member turns from the life of the party to the person we’re hesitant to invite out. Whether it’s the intense pre-gaming beforehand or the frequent blackouts or the embarrassing scenes they make during the night, calamity seems to follow whenever our friend starts drinking.

Then we start to notice other things as well, such as the Monday Flu. Friends or colleagues sluggishly making their way to the office every week, sometimes suffering occasional shakes as the effects of an entire weekend of drinking start to wear off. Other responsibilities start slipping as well, or become completely ignored.

You start to wonder if your friend has gone from vibrant casual drinker to struggling with alcohol. The reality is there is a thin line between the two, but crossing that line can develop lasting problems.

Defining a Problem
Does everyone who goes out to party hard on the weekend have an alcohol problem? Of course not. Yet transitioning from occasional weekends of partying to frequent benders starts to raise red flags.

The hard truth is that approximately 14% of Americans struggle with an alcohol use disorder. That means when a group of ten of your friends go out, research suggests that one person relies too heavily on alcohol to cope with the challenges of the week. When your extended family has a large gathering, it’s likely someone in the group is letting alcohol redefine their life and relationships.

You can probably pinpoint that person. It’s why you are here. So how can you tell when it’s gone from casual drinking to a disorder?

Signs and symptoms vary depending on each person, but here are some warning signs that indicate a loved one might be nearing the line:

They become defensive, even agitated, when you comment on excessive drinking
Relationships start to alter, change or an individual withdraws completely
Individual responsibilities start to get ignored
Drinking blackouts or memory loss become frequent
Drinking tolerance increases, which promotes heavier drinking
Excuses justifying drinking become common place
Drinking at inappropriate times, such as before work or during breaks
Struggling with withdrawals when the alcohol starts to wear off
Getting into trouble with the law, such as a DUI
Physical well-being seems to be an afterthought or ignored altogether

While these signs make up a majority of indicators, they are not all inclusive. To see if casual drinking has progressed into a problem, you can read through our 11 Symptoms of Alcohol Disorder. This will give you a clinical assessment of alcohol disorder.

If, after going through the signs, you’re still not sure either if your loved one has a problem or how to approach it, know you are not alone. You can always call us at Confidential Recovery to do a pre-assessment and help you determine if their drinking has escalated to a problem.

What to Do Next?
If you fear that someone you love exhibits a few too many of these signs, or perhaps are raising red flags in other areas of their life, it’s time to get help. Start by equipping yourself with knowledge about alcoholism. Then learn more about the different treatment options in your area.

Should you approach the subject with your loved one, remember to always use positive language and avoid judgmental tones. Rather than something as abrasive as, “You have a drinking problem,” start with, “I’m concerned your drinking may be hurting your health,” or, “I don’t know if you’re aware, but when you drink you start to (insert behaviors).” Make sure to avoid stigmatized words, such as “alcoholic.”

Always have this conversation when your loved one is sober.

When Help Needs to Be Confidential
Not everyone has the luxury or desire to confide their drinking problem with close friends or colleagues. In fact many fear doing so will jeopardize their career.

For example, we rely on doctors to make life saving decisions every day. How would the medical board look upon impaired judgment? When your lawyer steps up to the table to argue your case, you want someone highly focused on your defense. What would the Bar Association have to say when their focus is compromised?

Yet some of these professionals struggle with an addiction rate far higher than other industries due to stress. Stuck between the cross hairs of choosing to seek help and losing their job or doing nothing while it gets worse, they often choose the later. Consequently, the problem grows.

That’s why there is Confidential Recovery.

We believe that people shouldn’t be punished for seeking help and doing the right thing. Located in San Diego, we assist high functioning professionals address alcohol abuse. As the name suggests, we employ the highest level of discretion to ensure professionals can get help without fear of facing serious consequences in other areas of their life.

Call today to see if Confidential Recovery is the right step for your loved one.



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