Kicking back with a cold beer or a glass of wine after work can be a relaxing way to end the day. But if you are "relaxing" seven days a week, you may be asking yourself, "am I an alcoholic?"
The answer is not necessarily, but it may be something to keep an eye on, as it could be one of the early signs of alcoholism or alcohol dependence, according to experts.
"While there are a number of variables, typically having a drink every night does not necessarily equate to alcohol use disorder, but it can increase the risk of developing alcohol-related health problems," Lawrence Weinstein, MD, Chief Medical Officer at American Addiction Centers tells WebMD Connect to Care.
When it comes to drinking, how much is too much?
The term "too much" is subjective, meaning it varies from person to person. For some individuals, one drink a day may be too much. For others it could be 2 to 3 drinks a day.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Anything exceeding that could be considered unhealthy. For example, if drinking every night leads to more frequent consumption or the inability to cut back, this could be the early signs of alcoholism or alcohol dependence.
If you feel that daily drinking is becoming a problem in your life or the life of someone you know, there are many options available for help.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about one third of those treated for alcohol problems have no further symptoms one year later. Step one is to speak with your health care provider, who will be able to determine which option is right.
There are a variety of behavioral treatment options available, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which helps change the thought processes that lead to drinking; Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET), which focuses on identifying the pros and cons of seeking treatment, forming a plan, building confidence, and developing skills to stick to the plan; Marital and family counseling; and brief interventions.
Medication prescribed by a primary care physician or other health professional can help a person quit or reduce their drinking. Three medications are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for alcohol dependence - naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram.
Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other 12-step programs bring people together to help support each other quitting or cutting back on their drinking. These groups are combined with behavioral treatments.
For this level of help, an addiction treatment facility is highly recommended.