Knowing if you or someone you know has a drinking problem

The first step in seeking help for a drinking problem is to recognise that you have one.

There are some common signs that you may have a problem with drinking too much alcohol. It can be useful to first ask yourself, (or the person you are concerned about) your or their reasons for drinking. And that can take courage! Taking stock of the situation in an open and honest way can be the start of helping to control your intake of alcohol and prevent alcoholism.

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  • You are regularly binge drinking

  • You drink when you are alone

  • Other people say they are worried about your drinking

  • Your tolerance to alcohol: you have to drink more to get the same effect

  • You have blackouts when you drink

  • You offend friends or loved ones when you drink alcohol

  • You fall over or injure yourself due to the effects of alcohol

  • You combine alcohol with drugs to increase their effect

Signs of alcohol dependence

It’s not always easy to tell when you have a drinking problem, particularly as binge drinking is a pretty common activity in Australia. Some say heavy drinking is part of our culture. Yet, alcoholism is widespread. You may start out only wanting to have a couple of drinks but often end up having too many.

Asking yourself honestly whether you do have a drinking problem and are at risk of developing alcohol dependence is a very good start.

There are some signs of alcohol dependence below / right.

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  • Drinking alcohol regularly on your own

  • Trying to hide your alcohol consumption from those around you and/or lying about the amount you do drink

  • Relationships with friends, family or work colleagues are being affected by your drinking

  • Thinking about or even worrying about when you’ll be able to have your next drink

  • Having alcohol withdrawal symptoms such as sweating, insomnia or nausea because of  not drinking alcohol

  • Needing to drink an ever-increasing amount of alcohol each time to get drunk

  • Waking up in the morning with the desire  to drink alcohol

  • Drinking alcohol when you wake up in the morning

Be honest with yourself and ask yourself:

  • Do you drink because you have problems?

  • Do you need a drink to relax?

  • Do you drink when you are annoyed at other people, including your friends, children, parents or work colleagues?

  • Do you tell lies about how much or how often you drink?

  • Do you ever get into trouble when you’re drinking… have fights, get into trouble with work mates, your boss, the police or other authority figures?

  • When you drink do you get drunk, even when you don’t mean to?

  • Have other people commented on your drinking and said it is a problem?

  • Would you rather drink alone, instead of drinking socially with other people?

  • Is your work or education suffering because of your drinking?

  • Have you ever tried to stop drinking or to drink less and found that you just can’t?

  • Do you drink in the morning, before work, study or some other activity?

  • Do you sip or gulp your drinks?

  • Have you ever experienced a loss of memory due to your drinking?

If you answer yes to one or more of these questions, you may have a problem with alcohol.

Courage is needed!
It takes courage to face-up to the fact that you might have a problem with alcohol. Deciding to take control and get some help is a brave move, and you should congratulate yourself on taking this important step.

What to do?
The best and easiest way to get help is to talk to someone about it. Talk to a trusted friend or family member, a doctor or counsellor. As soon as you talk to someone about what you’re going through, things will start to feel better.

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A number of free online counselling services are there to help people in Australia with concerns about their alcohol consumption.