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Alcohol Abuse Symptoms: 5 Signs You May Have A Problem

By Michael LoRe
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Carol Anderson, LMSW, ACSW on January 13, 2021
Understanding your drinking habits, including amount and frequency, can help you decide if you have an alcohol abuse problem.

While a glass of wine with dinner or a beer after work may not seem like a big deal, you need to be cognizant of your drinking habits to make sure they don't transition into alcohol abuse.

One "drink" or serving of alcohol is defined as: 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor. Knowing your drinking habits — amount and frequency — can help you or someone you know understand whether or not they are abusing alcohol.

Here are five signs you may have a drinking problem.

Alcohol is all that's on your mind.

As with most addictions, the substance is the main and only priority in your mind. You are thinking about having a drink, the potential relief that comes with drinking, and the feeling of being drunk. You can't cope with situations or emotions without drinking.

Drinking regardless of consequences.

Because alcohol is the only thing on your mind, you'll do whatever you can to get that fix and have a drink regardless of consequences. That means potentially fracturing relationships, health risks to yourself or others, negative effects on your education or career, financial issues or even potentially criminal consequences.

Constantly drinking, drunk, or hungover.

You spend the majority of your time drinking, being drunk or being hungover while dealing with the physical and emotional consequences of having drunk for extended periods of time. This vicious cycle dominates your life as other priorities fall by the wayside. Your mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health all suffer.

Attempted to stop/limit drinking but failed.

You've addressed your issue: you have a drinking problem, and you want to quit. Whether it's after one attempt or after multiple tries, you can't shake the addiction and continue to fall off the wagon. The power alcohol has over you is a major sign you have an addiction and are abusing alcohol.

You have withdrawal symptoms.

Spending the majority of your time drinking or drunk, you don't feel much of anything else. It's not until the buzz wears off when you have to deal with symptoms of withdrawal including: restlessness, sweating, trouble sleeping, nausea or a racing heart.

Treatment & Resources for Alcohol Addiction