How Can I Tell if I’m an Alcoholic?
The problem with being in active addiction is you can’t see how alcohol affects your life. Your mind, which has an abnormal reaction to alcohol, becomes intensely focused on the feeling produced by alcohol.
I can pinpoint the time when this effect occurred in me. From that point on, it became my sole vocation. It was like I found my true calling. Now, I realize I had lost the power of choice. I don’t have to ask “am I an alcoholic?”, because I know I am.
Am I an Alcoholic if…?
Choice is a good place to start when looking to see if life is unmanageable.
I remember I used to set boundaries about my drinking. For example, I used to tell myself I’d only go out on the weekends. Yet somehow, I found myself at the bar on a Monday night. Over and over and over again.
I’d also set limits regarding my consumption. Things like, tonight I’m only going to have five drinks. Somehow, a couple hours later, I’d be on my seventh or eighth drink. I would promise myself I’d enforce the limit next time I went out.
This pattern of attempting to control my drinking, and finding myself unable to, is a good example of unmanageability. These attempts eventually lead me back to the question “am I an alcoholic?”
Does Alcohol Come Before Family?
Take a look at who, or what, comes first in your life. There are responsibilities like family, work, and school. Then there’s recreational stuff like playing sports, going to a movie, or drinking. Which of these do you place first? If you answered drinking, well, you might want to rethink the answer to that question “am I an alcoholic?”
I used to bartend and I’d find myself showing up late for work day after day. My boss would yell at me, but I’d only step things up for the next couple of days, soon returning to my usual routine. Also, when I did finally arrive at work, I’d immediately pour myself two or three shots. I couldn’t face an eight-hour shift without being drunk.
I’d make plans with my family, and at the last minute would cancel if I wasn’t messed up enough. Holidays and family gatherings became unimportant. Hell, I wouldn’t even call my family for weeks at a time.
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Am I An Alcoholic if I’m Losing Sleep?
Another issue was my sleeping pattern. My thoughts would race and I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep. I figured out quickly that drinking before bed helped me fall asleep.
As time went on, my sleeping habits became reliant on the amount of alcohol I’d consumed before bed. This pattern is completely unmanageable. No one should have to drink to be able to fall asleep!
Is My Life Unmanageable?
Putting others at risk as a result of your drinking is a good indicator that your life is unmanageable. An example of this would be drinking and driving. The fact that you had to drink, but you also had to drive, isn’t normal. This is a pretty obvious sign that your life may be unmanageable. Say you drink on the job. You’re putting your clients at risk here as well. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a doctor and it’s their lives, or you’re a financial consultant and it’s their money.
Being Honest with Yourself
It’s hard to realize that things are unmanageable as manageability is subjective to everyone. That’s why the time I spent in an alcohol addiction treatment center was good for me. I had some time from my last drink and began to gain some much needed perspective.
A good place to start is to ask yourself a couple questions:
- Do you find yourself unable to control your drinking?
- Do you need alcohol to start your day?
- How are your personal relationships?
- Have you ever gotten a DUI?
- Have you had legal issues as a result of drinking?
- If you’re in school, do you go to class?
- Has your doctor ever told you that you need to stop drinking?
- Do you need alcohol to sleep?
- Has any person ever come to you concerned about your drinking and you responded angrily?
If you ask yourself “am I an alcoholic?” and you answered yes to any of these questions, I highly recommend going to a twelve-step meeting, or finding an alcohol addiction treatment center.