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When to Get Help for Drinking

Cravings: A Consequence Of Drinking Too Much

One way of determining if your drinking is problematic and you may need help for your drinking is to notice any cravings for alcohol. While cravings and withdrawal effects occur with heavy drinking, or an alcohol use disorder, they can still occur with binge drinking. Like withdrawals, cravings occur due to alcohol’s impact on the brain.

Heavy drinking alters the brain’s chemistry, making quitting alcohol hard. A study by Rutgers University suggests binge and heavy drinking can affect genetics in the long-term. Repeated exposure to alcohol, “can change someone’s DNA” and cause them more difficulty with avoiding cravings over time. Cravings occur at random times of the day and night, but can often encourage people to start drinking if they have stopped, or continue drinking.

Withdrawal: An Effect Of Drinking Too Much

Someone can see how their drinking has become a problem if they experience mood swings or alcohol withdrawals. Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal depend on how many drinks someone consumed, and the timeframe of when they drank, but they typically occur in binge drinkers or heavy drinkers. Oftentimes withdrawals occur when someone has a dependence on alcohol and the symptoms are noticeable. Withdrawal symptoms can be mild and last for a few hours, for a few days or weeks depending on several factors (combined drugs, frequency, other health conditions, mental health conditions).

If someone endures a hangover and vomiting as a result of being drunk, these are generally mild symptoms that can dissipate over a few hours. However, you may need help for drinking if you experience the following symptoms, as withdrawal indicates a tolerance, a dependence, or an alcohol use disorder:

  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Sweating
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia

Delirium Tremens is a rare but severe side effect of excessive alcohol abuse that includes hallucinations, fatigue, fever, and seizures. People experience those 3 days after ceasing drinking.

Signs Of Problem Drinking: Noticing Red Flags And Patterns

Problem drinking is not the same as an alcohol use disorder; however, identifying if your drinking is out of control can help you stop it before it worsens. Binge drinking can become a problem if not controlled as it increases someone’s alcohol tolerance. Binge drinking is drinking 4 or more drinks in a 2-hour timeframe for women and 5 or more in a 2-hour timeframe for men.

Despite binge drinking being considered low-risk problem drinking according to some sources, it can encourage heavy drinking. Taking a personal inventory of drinking habits and realizing when you begin to binge drink and how often can help you curb your drinking. Moreover, your drinking is most likely out of hand if:

  • You’re needing to drink more than usual.
  • You need stronger types of alcohol to feel its effects.
  • Drinking too much impacts your job or family life.
  • You combine alcohol with other chemicals.
  • You’re blacking out.
  • You’re acting dangerously to yourself or others.
  • You’re violating laws (drunk driving).
  • You experience cravings.
  • You experience withdrawal.

Self-Awareness And Things To Consider

Discovering you have a drinking problem can take time. For some, deciphering if their alcohol consumption is normal may be challenging if they battle mental health disorders like depression and anxiety and use alcohol to cope. The effects of long-term drinking range from damaged vital organs (liver, kidneys), addiction, moodiness, and withdrawal to skim the surface. Alcoholism affects millions of people and easily transitions from casual drinking to binge to heavy drinking.

One of the easiest ways to know if your drinking is a problem is if family and friends have expressed concern. Outsiders can be more objective and observant with evaluating those who may have drinking problems. Have relatives or friends questioned your drinking habits? Have those around you told you to slow down when drinking? Have friends, family, and coworkers expressed frustration or worry that you can develop an alcohol use disorder?

Additionally, the inability to control how much you drink can be a clear indication that a drinking problem is occurring. Moreover, increasing the number of drinks needed to feel a buzz can also be a sign your drinking is out of control. Using alcohol as a crutch or to soothe difficult emotions can indicate a dependence on alcohol, which can transition into heavy drinking. At this stage, getting help from a professional for drinking would be beneficial.

How Treatment And Detox Can Help

If you make the decision to get treated for excessive drinking, recognize this is the first step in taking control of a potentially dangerous addiction. Going cold turkey can only encourage drinking to cope with the challenges of stopping drinking. For example, when someone drinks to lessen anxiety, he or she feels relaxed. If he or she drinks over the long-term and develops a tolerance to alcohol, and chooses to stop, he or she can endure anxiety and depression, which tempts them to drink again. Such cycles reflect a need to heal underlying mental health or emotional challenges in a healthy manner. Detox and one on one counseling in rehab can help.

Detox rids the body of the effects of alcohol on the brain, making withdrawal safer. Patients receive antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications, along with other drugs to flush the system. Monitoring is available for support during challenging experiences during detox. Detox and medications are available in both inpatient and outpatient treatment centers, however, those in outpatient treatment won’t be on campus as long as those in inpatient programs. Those in inpatient programs can benefit from having peer support and dietary meal plans, with daily activities. Those in outpatient rehab still access peer groups, but have the freedom to continue daily responsibilities.

Take Control Of Your Life

Alcohol abuse can cause extreme discomfort, isolation, and feelings of shame. Don’t allow those emotions to stop you from living a healthy and happy life. Get help for your drinking and explore your treatment options and contact a treatment provider risk-free to get started.

  • Author: Krystina Murray | Last Edited: April 5, 2021

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    Krystina Murray

    Digital Content Writer

    Krystina Murray has received a B.A. in English at Georgia State University. She has over 7 years of professional writing and editing experience, and over 17 years of overall writing experience. She enjoys traveling, fitness, crafting, cooking, and spreading awareness of addiction recovery to help people transform their lives.