An alcoholic is someone who is dependent on alcohol. There are four main signs of alcoholism:
- Craving – a need or compulsion to drink alcohol.
- Tolerance – the need to consume greater quantities of alcohol in order to experience a “high”.
- Physical Dependency – experiencing withdrawal symptoms three to eight hours after the last drink.
- Loss of Control – being unable to stop drinking once you’ve had one drink.
It’s important to note that not all alcoholics drink all day, every day. And drinking excessively does not always mean that you’re alcohol-dependent or an alcoholic. There are several levels of drinking but all of these can risk your health and safety.
Most people drink alcohol, particularly in a social situation. However, even drinking socially can lead to problems, especially if you drive, take some types of medication or operate machinery.
Heavy drinking occurs when you drink more than the recommended safe limits. Men should drink no more than 21 units of alcohol per week and no more than 3-4 units of alcohol a day. Women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week and no more than 2-3 units of alcohol a day.
Drinking above these recommended limits can be dangerous. It can increase the risk of developing liver disease, pancreatic damage, cancer, high blood pressure and other serious conditions. Heavy drinking can also put you at risk of being in dangerous situations in general.
Individuals who are problem drinkers cause harm to themselves and their family. Problem drinking can cause a range of illnesses including cirrhosis. They may binge-drink frequently and this can cause social problems, work issues, family or relationship problems, and financial troubles as a result of spending more on alcohol than they can afford. Quite often, individuals who are problem drinkers are able to stop drinking on their own and without experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
This is the most serious level of drinking, where you feel compelled to drink and have to consume alcohol to avoid uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol.
Ask yourself if you’re an alcoholic?
- Have people questioned or commented on the amount you drink?
- Have you tried to cut down on your drinking and failed?
- Do you feel guilty or ashamed by the amount you drink?
- Do you need a drink to steady your nerves?
- Do you suffer blackouts as a result of drinking?
- Do you feel depressed or anxious the morning after having a drink?
- If you don’t drink for a day, do you feel shaky or panicky?
- Do you often drink alone?
- Have you lost interest in social or leisure activities?
If you’ve answered yes to any of these, you may be an alcoholic. The good news is that alcoholism can be effectively treated. It’s best to get help as quickly as possible so do contact us on 0808 163 9519 and we’ll give you all the help and support you need.