Signs of a Drinking Problem

Drinking is a part of many social situations. It seems like it’s woven into the fabric of college campuses. Coworkers might hit a happy hour after a long day. For some of us, drinking becomes something more. Something we need. What are the signs of a drinking problem? Let’s take a closer look.

The Diagnostic Criteria for a Drinking Problem

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is used by healthcare providers to diagnose behavioral health issues. Addictions are considered behavioral health issues. The most recent edition of the DSM includes alcohol use disorder (AUD). The diagnostic criteria can be a useful tool for considering the signs of a drinking problem. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends considering the following questions, which are based on the DSM criteria:

  • Have you had times where you drank more or drank longer than you intended?
  • Have you tried to cut down or stop drinking without success?
  • Does drinking (or dealing with the aftereffects of drinking) take up a lot of your time?
  • Do you experience cravings for alcohol?
  • Have you found that drinking (or dealing with the aftereffects of drinking) is impacting how you take care of your home or family? Or is your drinking interfering with work or school?
  • Has your drinking caused problems between you and your friends or family?
  • Have you stopped doing things you enjoyed to make more time for drinking?
  • Are you finding yourself in dangerous situations due to your drinking (driving under the influence, etc.)?
  • Are you drinking even though it’s making a health condition worse?
  • Do you need to drink more than you used to get the same effect?
  • Are you experiencing physical symptoms when you stop drinking? These symptoms might include insomnia, irritability, shakiness, nausea, anxiety or depression.

Technically, meeting two or more of the diagnostic criteria within a 12-month period means you may have alcohol use disorder. The more criteria you meet, the more severe your disorder. Even if you or your loved one doesn’t meet any of these criteria, if drinking is interfering with your quality of life, it may be time to seek professional treatment.

Other Signs of a Drinking Problem

Alcohol use disorder can impact every area of life. Your physical health can be significantly impacted, for example. Some physical signs include:

  • Changes in weight
  • Smelling of alcohol
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Excessive sleep
  • Lack of coordination

Some people may be less attentive to their appearance. They may have memory lapses and experience trouble concentrating. Relationships at work or school or within the home may become strained. Someone experiencing alcohol use disorder may start to isolate themselves, spending more time alone. There may also be frequent changes in mood.

Everyone experiences addiction differently. Some may not show any physical signs. Some may be able to keep up with work or school. If you feel that drinking is interfering with your quality of life, or if you’re concerned about the wellbeing of a loved one, it might be time to consider treatment.

Treatment is Essential for a Drinking Program

It’s important not to wait until things get “bad” to seek treatment. Don’t wait until there’s a health issue. Alcohol addiction is serious and can compromise your health and safety. The sooner you or a loved one seeks treatment, the better. Going it alone is very difficult, and people withdrawing from alcohol can experience severe withdrawal symptoms. Many people find that a professional treatment program, like the one at DiscoveryMD, can make a world of difference.

This is because addiction is complex. It impacts every aspect of life: mental, physical, and emotional. The starting point for many is with a supervised detox program. At DiscoveryMD, we offer an outpatient detox program. The program is managed by physicians with expertise in addiction treatment. You can safely detox in the privacy of your own home.

As detox progresses, the next step is treatment. DiscoveryMD offers two levels of outpatient treatment. Each person entering treatment meets with counselors to determine which level of treatment is best. One option is our Alcohol and Drug Treatment Group Program. This is an education-based program that meets weekly. Our second option is the intensive outpatient program. This program meets three days per week for three hours each day. The initial phase of our intensive outpatient program lasts for eight weeks, followed by a less intense program that lasts six to 10 months.

Outpatient treatment allows you to stay in the comfort of your home, around people who support you. You can maintain many of your routines and commitments. Our program accepts Medicaid as well as many health insurance providers, including Cigna, CareFirst and Aetna.

Are you concerned about a drinking problem? Contact us today to learn more about our program options and our approach to care.

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