How to know when you are drinking too much: here are six signs you may want to take a look at

Some of us enjoy a drink or two on occasion. But, apart from official guidelines, how do you know when you’re drinking too much? If you’re drinking heavily and barely feeling tipsy then does it really count?

It’s tricky trying to work out whether you’re drinking too much or not, especially if you’re a high-functioning alcoholic. So if you’re successfully holding down a job, in a secure relationship have an active social life or have a few hobbies, then the line is blurred.

Sure, just because you’re not hungover every morning it doesn’t mean your body isn’t suffering in silence. Alcohol can affect us in many different ways. But first….

The £64,000 question is: do you control your drinking or does drinking control you?

The answer to this depends on you and your personal situation but here are a few very general examples

You’re in control: If you can drink one or two drinks once or twice a week and happily stop straight away then you’re essentially in control of your drinking.

Alcohol is in control: If it’s a case of ‘once you pop, you can’t stop’ then, although you’re not necessarily dependent on alcohol, you may be an alcohol abuser or a binge drinker.

You’re in control: Alcohol isn’t the first thing that crosses your mind when you walk out of the office at the end of the day.

Alcohol is in control: One of the first things you think of when the weekend comes around is to chase the buzz that booze offers.

Of course, we can’t put everyone in the same box, so here are some more subtle signs that your drinking habits may have got out of hand:

1. You start neglecting important tasks

From canceling on friends last minute to not finishing that all-important presentation for work, neglecting your duties in favour of drinking is easier done than said! You might notice a pattern emerging when it comes to responsibilities. For example, if you feel guilt, dread or anxiety every Monday due to partying a little too hard over the weekend then you might decide to reschedule meetings or skip a gym session. Nearly everyone gets the Monday blues, but it shouldn’t deter you from following through with your obligations.

2. Friends and family have mentioned it

Actually, they might not have mentioned it vocally, but you know when you can just sense the tiniest hint of disapproval. Watch your loved ones closely when you have a drink — do they seem unfazed or do they make subtle little comments and jokes such as “Again?” or “More?” or even the not-so-subtle “Don’t you think you’ve had enough?” If your loved ones aren’t giving you verbal cues then watch out for body language eye rolls, sighing and fidgeting with hands — they may feel uncomfortable when you drink. You could outright ask them if they think you’re drinking has crossed the line — but if you’re scared the answer might be ‘yes’ then that could be a sign in itself. Remember, your friends and family love you and want to help you.

3. Drink isn’t pleasurable most of the time

So, you’ve had three glasses of wine and you’re still not getting a kick out of alcohol. The liver actually produces more enzymes to break down the alcohol molecules — the more you drink, the more tolerant your organs become, so you need more just to reach the mildly tipsy stage. That fuzzy, enjoyable feeling almost never surfaces any more and, if it does, it only lasts for a very short time and disappears as quick as you can say ‘cheers.’ And then oblivion — you never get that first hit like you used to! You might drink to escape or forget…kind of like you’re drinking to ‘feel what everyone else is feeling.’ If you’re drinking to feel normal then you could have a problem with alcohol.

4. You find it more enjoyable to drink at home alone

Do grab the chance to drink at home when you’ve got the house to yourself? Avoiding friends and family when you drink could be a subconscious sign that you’re ashamed of your drinking habits and trying to hide it. Do you try and get rid of the alcohol smell on your breath and hide your empties before the other members of your household return home or throw it in the neighborhood recycling dumpsters for fear of family finding out how much you’ve drank? It’s most probably a sign that you know they’ll be upset with you and you’re attempting to avoid conflict over drink wherever possible. In a nutshell, you don’t want to be found out so you can continue with the way you’re drinking.

5. Nearly every social event involves alcohol

Do you steer yourself to events that have alcohol, or sneak alcohol if not? Will you not attend an occasion where there is no alcohol and make excuses? Can you remember the last social event where you didn’t drink? Like, not even one drink. If you can’t imagine going to a gig without having a few beers or visiting a friend’s house without a bottle of wine in tow, then it might be worth seeing if you can socialise in settings where you can’t bring alcohol or buy alcohol.

6. Are you the last out of the bar or a party?

If you’ve made plans with friends or colleagues and you’re the first one arriving at the bar and the last one to leave — you might be at risk of having an alcohol problem. I’m talking about the sort of situation where you constantly encourage your friends to drink so you can carry on without everyone fussing. And when it’s finally time to leave the party still doesn’t stop. You might spend hours trying to find an all night supermarket or garage to stock up on booze. You might even head back home and take advantage of late night takeaway delivery where they also deliver alcohol right to your door. If this is happening nearly every time you go out then it’s probably time to seek some help.

Bunmi is a dedicated sober coach at The Sober Advantage. She helps professionals and entrepreneurs struggling or starting off their new sober lifestyle through coaching and companionship supported by energy therapies to maximize results. For a free no obligation consultation contact bunmi@the soberadvantage.com