How do I know I am an alcoholic?

This post is inspired by a discussion that I came across on Quora a few months back where someone asked how he can reduce the amount of alcohol he drinks on a night out

So that would be the first sign that you have a problem right? No normal person that does not have a problem with alcohol or drugs will ever be concerned about how they can control the amount of alcohol he or she drinks, or the amount of drugs he or she uses.

So you want to know the answer to the question: how do I know I am an alcoholic?

How do I know if I am an alcoholic questions

If you regularly drink too much, and you start obsessing about how you can control it then chances are incredibly high that you have a problem.

And it isn’t even about drinking too much really, some alcoholics actually drink very little. It is about being powerless over the alcohol and about your personality changing when you drink. It is about the way you think.

An alcoholic or addict has what is called stinking thinking.

Here’s the difference between an alcoholic and a normal person…

A normal person goes out and has too much to drink. This normal person wakes up in the morning and thinks, oh dear I had too much to drink, I won’t do that again.  Then they don’t do that again and they don’t think about it again. There is no issue.

An alcoholic will drink too much (again) come home and think about how he can control his drinking. The first thing he will do is come up with an excuse for drinking too much last night and here are some examples of things to blame:

  • His girlfriend that had a fight with him (probably because he was drinking too much)
  • His mother that nags him (probably because he drinks too much)
  • His boss that picks on him (probably because he is hung over too often)
  • The rugby game that was won, so he had to celebrate the victory
  • The rugby game that was lost, so he had to drown his sorrows
  • There was no rugby game so he was bored

Ok you get the picture anything is fair game for blame.

Next step is the alcoholic will come up with ideas to not drink so much. These ideas consist of gems like:

  • The orange juice is to blame, so I will switch from Vodka and Orange Juice to Vodka with lemonade
  • Wine goes to my head so I will drink spirits instead
  • Brandy makes me aggressive so I will stick to Vodka
  • Spirits are too strong so I will drink beer
  • I will only drink on weekends
  • I won’t drink on weekends
  • I will start drinking singles instead of doubles (but end up drinking ordering 20 drinks instead of 10)

These excuses and ideas are endless.

How do I know if I am an alcoholic?

Well I’ve covered the basics here, if you are wondering about that then chances are high you are. If you have some of those thoughts that I just mentioned then you’re getting closer to breaking through your denial.

The thing is that coming to realize you are an alcoholic is your own path, not mine. It is not a question someone else can answer for you.

This is your journey and this is your life.

Here are some more questions to ask yourself:

  • How often do you wake up not remembering what you did the night before?
  • How often do you pass out from drinking?
  • Do you ever tell yourself to control your drinking?
  • How often do you tell yourself you will just have one drink, yet drink more?
  • Do you drink first thing in the morning?
  • Have you ever stayed drunk for a few days in a row?
  • Have you ever gone into work drunk?
  • Have you switched brands or types of alcohol in the hopes that you won’t drink so much or get drunk?
  • Have you ever lost a job because of your drinking or had problems at work because of your drinking?
  • Do your loved ones complain about your drinking?
  • Are you often the last one in the bar when your friends have long since left to go home?
  • Do you sometimes become angry when you drink?
  • Do you sometimes get emotional when you drink?
  • Do you have fights with your loved ones when you have been drinking?
  • Have you ever become aggressive and abusive when you drink?
  • How often have you driven drunk?
  • Do you get the shakes when you have not had a drink? Do these shakes disappear when you have a drink?
  • Have you ever done things you are ashamed of while drunk?
  • Is your drinking causing financial problems?
  • Has anyone else in your family had a drinking problem?
  • Do you hide your drinking from the people closest to you?
  • Is your drinking causing relationship problems?
  • Have you tried to stop drinking and not been able to?
  • Have you had memory blackouts while drinking?
  • Do you eat very little or not at all when you are drinking?
  • Do you drink until you vomit? And sometimes still carry on?
  • Have you ever lost control of your bowels or bladder while drinking?

I can ask questions like these until the cows come home, but you get the picture now. My personal belief is that if you are an alcoholic you do actually know it deep down but you just don’t want to face it.

That is what happened to me anyway, there was a part of me that I buried (under loads of drugs and alcohol) that knew I was an alcoholic and a drug addict.

I recently wrote an ebook about my powerlessness over alcohol and drugs, I shared stories from when I was in active addiction. In these stories you can follow what my thought patterns where, the times I suddenly thought I might just have a problem and then how I shut those thoughts away from myself.

I believe each person has their own process to go through, their own moment of realization and I also believe that everything happens for a reason.

So if you are here reading this post there is probably a reason you are here, and I can’t answer your questions for you. Take what you need from this and I hope you find your way, whatever that path may be.

Here’s some food for thought. Until you know and acknowledge there is a problem you cannot begin to fix it. The first step to recovery begins with admitting to yourself that you have a problem.

If you are an alcoholic you can contact Alcoholics Anonymous and you will find an amazing support system and other alcoholics to help you through this.

Are you an alcoholic or an addict? How did you come to realize you had a problem?

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8 comments

  1. Marta says:

    Hey Lynne,

    I can say I’m lucky not to have any addiction problem myself or within my closest family. It’s good that you’re writing about these things. There is a great stigma, especially with regard to women. For those who have never experienced it, it’s hard to believe that alcoholism is a mental condition and should be treated as such. Thanks for having the courage to share your story!

    • Lynne says:

      Thank you Marta, and yes that is a huge challenge that we have, that so many people attach shame to this problem, especially like you say for women.

      It is a mental issue and should be treated as such. I suppose people just don’t know, a lot of people think alcoholics bring it on themselves and that they should be able to just stop, especially when the consequences and damages start to pile up… but it is not nearly that simple.

      I just hope my website serves as a platform to spread the word, to remove some of the stigma of addiction and lift the shame.

  2. Katie says:

    Hi Lynne,
    Thank you for this informative post. You are so brave to write so personally and I really admire you for that. I guess that is really the only way to not relapse to be open and honest about it. My father passed away from alcoholism when he was 47 and I was only 21. My brother was still a junior in high school and he is still messed up from it. I wish at the time I would have done more and seen the signs but hind sight is 20/20. Anyway thanks again for the post and I hope you reach at least one person as I am sure you will:) God bless and continue the sobriety life is beautiful!

    • Lynne says:

      Katie I am so sorry to hear about your dad, that is terribly sad.

      And yes I know what you mean. My uncle died from alcoholism about 6 years ago. It is easy to look back and think of all the things you should have seen or should have done…

      I hope moving forward some people benefit from my experiences, in that way at least something good can come of something bad.

  3. Brent P says:

    Lynn
    Well done. My wife sent me this link, as I am sober now for a good while. I had to morbidly smile when going thru your checklist I found myself repeating over and over “yep, done that” and “yep, done that”

    Good stuff Lynn

    • Lynne says:

      Brent congrats on your sobriety and thanks for reaching out. Yes I am sure there are a few alcoholics and drug addicts nodding away as they go through the list right?

      I hope you are happy in your sobriety 🙂

  4. Peteni Kuzwayo says:

    Hi Lynne

    Thanks for the article.

    Having read your article, I have identified symptoms amongst a few loved ones.

    The excuses I hear everytime they crave a drink are just unimaginable. I’ve never really delved much into finding the root cause of some of their behaviour.

    However, your article has really given me some insight.

    Thank You.

    Regards
    Peteni

    • Lynne says:

      Hi Peteni

      I am so glad you found this helpful, there are so many more excuses that alcoholics give for their drinking and their behaviour but you get the picture.

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