Have you experienced negative consequences related to your drinking or are you worried about a family member’s drinking? According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, more than 15 million adults struggle with alcohol use disorder.
Seek help or encourage a loved one to seek help if you have noticed these signs of problem drinking.
The NIAAA defines alcohol use disorder as consuming more than four drinks a day or 14 drinks a week for men and more than three drinks a day or seven drinks a week for women. Many individuals who exceed these thresholds remain functional, with thriving families and careers, so it can be difficult to discern the problem.
Inability to control drinking
Do you often drink more than you intended? Do you find yourself striving to limit your alcohol intake or stop drinking completely? If you feel powerless over alcohol and cannot stop drinking even when you want to, you may be experiencing the effects of alcohol use disorder.
You may also notice that you need to drink more to feel the same effects or that you have physical withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop drinking. Some people are unable to remember portions of the day or night after drinking heavily.
Related social and legal problems
Even for those who remain functional, drinking too much will eventually cause serious problems. Examples include disciplinary action at work, relationship issues and arrests for public intoxication or driving under the influence of alcohol. Often, an individual will continue to drink even when facing these issues and shirk other responsibilities to drink.
Alcohol use disorder often manifests with risk-taking behaviors associated with drinking. Examples include drinking and driving, unprotected sex and drinking on the job. A comprehensive treatment program that includes both medical detoxification and mental health counseling can often resolve alcohol use disorders when the person is ready to quit drinking and maintain sobriety.