My Drinking is Out of Control: What Should I Do?
You are beginning to feel that you can no longer control your drinking. You constantly drink more than you mean to, you think about drinking all the time, and wind up wanting to drink (and even starting to drink) at inappropriate times. You experience withdrawal symptoms as a result of not being able to drink when you want to. You feel that you need more and more alcohol every time you drink in order to feel good, and eventually, you realize that you are not able to manage your actions when it comes to your drinking.
If these issues are ones you are familiar with, your drinking is out of control. There are several considerations you should make as well as important facts to understand. Uncontrolled drinking can cause many of the same issues as uncontrolled drug abuse, and you should remember, above all else, that you are not alone.
Consider the Circumstances of Your Drinking
There are several different ways in which your drinking can be out of control. You don’t have to drink every day or even drink hard liquor to be in dangerous territory when it comes to alcohol. But everyone who is having an issue of this type will feel either that they are not in control or they are coming close to that point.
The NLM lists several types of problem drinking. They are:
- Alcoholism (alcohol dependence) consists of:
- Loss of control
- Physical dependence
- Binge drinking
- “It is drinking about five or more drinks in two hours for men. For women, it is about four or more drinks in two hours.” You can still feel like you are not in control when you binge drink, especially if you do it often or even when you don’t want to.
- Alcohol abuse
- This is a “serious problem” that does not contain the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. However, drinking can cause problems for you in other aspects of your life and, if you are not in control of it, you may continue drinking despite these issues.
If you experience any of these behaviors and issues with frequency and a feeling that you would not be able to stop, especially when these behaviors become problematic or dangerous, your drinking is likely to be out of control. Remember this common rule: if you think you might have a problem, you probably do.
Be Honest with Yourself
You may be thinking that you can control your drinking, that it is possible to do so. And you’re right. It is possible to control your drinking when you do not have a drinking problem. Someone without a drinking problem should be able to control their drinking and not feel that they need to drink. Someone who does have a drinking problem on the other hand will not be able to control themselves in the way they need to.
It is immensely important to be honest with yourself. Only this way can you assess whether or not your drinking has gone beyond your control. If you cannot realistically assess your own drinking habits, there are other ways to find out if you are not in control.
- Take online tests. The NIAAA has a short drinking test that only asks about your alcohol consumption, how often you drink, and how many drinks you have on a normal drinking day. This could help you figure out if you are at a low risk or a high risk for alcoholism and out of control drinking patterns.
- Consult a physician or psychologist. You will be asked many questions, not only about your drinking but how it affects the other aspects of your life. You will also be asked how you believe your drinking affects others.
- Ask your friends and family. It can be difficult and sometimes embarrassing, but asking your friends and family members if they feel that you drink too much or are not in control of your drinking could be very helpful to you. Remember to take their advice with a grain of salt; they are not professionals.
At this point, you must try as hard as possible be honest with yourself. Other individuals’ opinions won’t matter as much as yours and, if you still feel that you are in control when other sources deny it, you can get help much more easily if you are honest and allow yourself to get help.
According to the NIAAA, “Treatment techniques and tools to address alcohol use disorders… have multiplied over the last 30 years,” and this has made treatment easier to get and more diverse so that more individuals can be helped best, in their own way. Seeking treatment will make you feel less alone and allow you to go through alcohol use disorder recovery with others who understand what you are dealing with. This can often be invaluable to a person’s treatment.
Losing control over yourself and your substance abuse are the issues that define addiction; it is very likely that once you experience that loss of control, even if you do not always drink to excess or do not exhibit some of the classic signs of alcoholism, you need help. In the case of those who cannot control their alcohol intake, addiction either already exists or it will very soon.
Treatment for alcohol problems can be found in many ways. If your issues are severe and you need time away to recuperate, an inpatient treatment center could be very beneficial. Also some facilities are outpatient based and you can attend treatment while also managing your life. Others choose different treatment types like individualized counseling or support groups like AA.
Make a Change
No matter what you decide to do, when you realize that your drinking is out of control, it is time to make a change. It will only get worse if you go on as you are because ignoring the problem will not make it go away. Alcohol can be consumed in a safe, controlled manner, but if you have a problem, it can only be fixed by making some kind of change to your lifestyle. And, as a part of that change, it can be extremely important to reach out to others; there’s no point in going through it alone.