Addiction, including alcoholism, is isolating. People tend to feel shame or embarrassment, and they strive to keep their dependency to themselves. Nearly nine per cent of men in the UK and 3.3 per cent of women show signs of addiction. Are you one of them?
How do you know when the desire for a pint after work or a few cocktails on the weekend turns into a problem?
· You think about when you can next drink and may worry from where it will come.
· You plan activities, including work, around alcohol.
· You cannot drink moderately; that is, after a drink, it is difficult to stop.
· You feel anxious and/or depressed. Alcohol is a depressant, and it interferes with neurotransmitters that regulate mood and mental wellbeing.
· You want to drink when you wake up.
· When you drink, you experience blackouts.
· When drinking, you engage in risky behaviour (e.g. driving).
· Your drinking has caused legal problems (e.g. drink driving charges/convictions).
· Your health suffers or conditions are exacerbated by alcohol dependency.
· You drink at the expense of other parts of your life, such as your family, job or finances.
· You have built a tolerance, so you ‘need’ more alcohol to achieve the same effects.
· You feel guilty because you cannot control or stop drinking.
· You spend a lot of time either drinking or recovering from the side effects of drinking.
· You try to hide the extent of your drinking from your family, friends and/or employer.
· You may go to different stores to purchase alcohol so it doesn’t appear you’re buying too much.
· When you do not drink, you experience headache, nausea, sweating or shaking.
You are not alone; if alcohol has become a problem in your life, seek medical help. You can also find confidential support meetings to help you trade unsafe habits for healthier ones.