Here are signs to look out for if you speculate that you–or someone you know–may have a drinking problem:
1. Ask yourself: how bad do I need this drink?
Do you always feel the need to have a drink in your hand? This may already be an indication. “The standard definition of addiction is the inability to stop, compulsive-like seeking of the substance, and feeling bad when you’re not drinking. If you don’t feel right when you don’t have a drink in front of you, that’s an early sign,” shares Koob.
2. An interference with work and personal life
If you feel that your drinking is impairing your ability to function–whether it is taking a toll on work or your relationships with people–then this is a huge red flag. Koob gives more examples: “You have recurring excruciating hangovers that make it difficult to get work done, or it causes you to have problems with family—you’re irritable and cranky.”
3. A change in personality
This isn’t always easy to spot. Linked to the previous sign, if you notice a sudden change in personality–calm one second then irritable the next–this may definitely strain your relationships in the long run.
4. Engaging in risky behavior
Drinking while doing supposedly responsible behavior (Koob gives drinking while operating heavy machinery or driving as examples) is never a good idea. Feeling like you simply don’t care about the danger you put yourself into is one sign of alcoholism.
Casual drinking should be light and enjoyable. However, if you see yourself exhibiting any of these signs more often than the usual, you should find no shame in asking for help.Featured image: University of Oxford