We’ve all heard the terms before – alcoholic, problem-drinker, town drunk. It’s a title that few wear with pride, and even more try to avoid being labeled with entirely. Nobody wants to be an alcoholic when they grow up – that’s for sure.
But then, what makes someone truly an alcoholic? Where’s the line in the sand, exactly? Is it about how much you drink and how often, or is it more of a problem of intention? These are all questions that many ask when assessing drinking habits of close friends or relatives. In fact, the line is quite fine, and depending on whether or not you think “functioning alcoholics” should be getting help or not, that can also complicate the issue.
Nonetheless, here are a few things that tend to define alcoholics across the board:
A Compulsion to Drink
Instead of being a conscious choice made by carefully thinking about whether or not having a few drinks is appropriate, alcoholics will drink compulsively at any time of the day with no concern for what effects it may have on their future plans. This desire to drink overpowers any other thoughts they may be currently having, where the desire to drink takes precedence over things like doing the laundry, finishing some homework, or calling up a friend like they said they would.
Decreased Interest in Hobbies
Drinking excessively has profound effects on mood and cognition, to the point where after a drinking habit has been sufficiently established, the drinkers might not feel as motivated to do things that previously brought them great joy. Alcoholics will stop working on projects they previously enjoyed in favor of drinking.
A part of drinking too much isn’t knowing or respecting your limits and drinking to the point of blacking out. When large chunks of time have been effectively wiped from your memory, that’s a sign you may be dealing with alcoholism.
Having a Stash
People with their drinking habits under control will typically keep all of their alcohol either in the fridge or in a dedicated liquor cabinet, since going to get a drink in a less than convenient location isn’t that big of a deal. Seasoned alcoholics will put alcohol in convenient places, so they always have access to a bit of hooch.
Experiencing Withdrawal Symptoms
Those who have become fully ingrained in the alcoholic lifestyle will feel the withdrawal symptoms from alcohol if they go more than a few hours without a drink. These symptoms include depression, anxiety, nausea, and uncontrollable tremors. Of all of the items on this list, this one is the most obvious indicator of being an alcoholic, since it’s a direct proof that alcohol is now essential to the body’s functioning.
If any or all of these points apply to you or someone you know, treatment should be sought out immediately. Alcoholics Anonymous is one of the most commonly sought-after forms of treatment since it’s the least intrusive in daily life. However, going to rehab isn’t out of the question either. If you happen to be in the Florida area, there’s more information on this page about local centers. Alcoholism can be life-ruining if left unchecked. Luckily, it’s highly treatable for those who follow the steps. They will experience high rates of remission.