These days, finding booze is a piece of a cake. You can buy it at the gas station, drug store, or grocery. Most restaurants sell some kind of alcohol, be it beer or wine. Brunch is full of mimosas while dinner is toasted with cocktails. During a celebration or party, drinks are often the center of attention.
All of this might seem pretty harmless. But is it? If you’re not careful, casual drinking habits can spiral out of control. This has become the case for the 15.1 million American adults with alcohol use disorder (AUD). It’s important to realize that AUD runs on a spectrum. While alcoholism is the most severe form, there are many stages that come beforehand. What’s worse is that it develops quietly over time. However, it also gives you the chance to take a step back and look at your drinking habits. If any of these habits sound familiar, it might be time to re-think your drink.1
1. Drinking More Than Planned
Does “just two drinks” always turn into a long night? This could spell trouble. While there’s nothing wrong with having a good time or making spontaneous plans, take note if it constantly involves alcohol.
2. Plans Revolving Around Alcohol
When was the last time you had a good time with friends sober? Are plans always at the pub? Pay attention to your social settings and where you hang out the most. If drinking is always the main activity, pay attention.
3. Not Doing The Things You Love
Hobbies are a huge part of emotional and mental health. They’re also very rewarding, and for many people, offer a sense of purpose. Yet, giving up these activities just to drink is a red flag. It’s a tell-tale sign that alcohol has replaced what you once loved.2
4. Constantly Being Tired
Alcohol might be a sedative, but drinking too much will work against you. It brings on poor quality rest and less deep slow-wave sleep. Even your circadian rhythm, or internal body clock, will be thrown for a loop. It’s the perfect recipe for insomnia and daytime sleepiness.3
5. Always Being Forgetful
Alcohol dependence goes beyond fuzzy memories of a wild night. Intoxication affects the brain’s frontal and temporal areas, the parts that affect memory. Constant drinking actually re-wires these areas, causing changes in the brain’s neuronal network. In turn, forgetting about doctor’s appointments and parking spaces will become the norm.4
Making Friends And Family Worry
This one is significant. If friends and relatives are asking you to slow down, you’re probably doing the exact opposite. Evidently, your habits are making others worry and might even cause strain in your relationships.5
7. Drinking Alcohol To Relieve Stress
After a long day, a glass of red can certainly help you unwind. But it’s a different story when you’re depending on booze to let loose. If it feels like alcohol banishes your problems, it will only be for a moment. Because your problems will be right where you left them.
|↑1, ↑5||Alcohol Use Disorder. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.|
|↑2||Alcohol Use Disorder.
|↑3||Colrain, Ian M., Christian L. Nicholas, and Fiona C. Baker. “Alcohol and the sleeping brain.” Handb Clin Neurol 125 (2014): 415-431.|
|↑4||Magrys, S. A., and M. C. Olmstead. “Alcohol intoxication alters cognitive skills mediated by frontal and temporal brain regions.” Brain and cognition 85 (2014): 271-276.|