Binge drinking is unfortunately far too common in the US. What can seem like letting loose after a hard day to many, can turn into a serious drinking problem for some.
A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that a staggering 38 million Americans binge drink four times per month, or roughly once per week. This excess drinking is also responsible for 80,000 deaths per year in the US. Binge drinking is a consistent trend among adolescents and young adults, with 40 percent of alcoholics reporting their first major signs of heavy drinking between the ages of 15 and 19. However, it’s actually those over age 65 who admit to binging most regularly. Roughly 8 to 14 percent of Americans are suffering from alcoholism, but the disorder frequently goes undiagnosed.
What is the fine line between an active social life and escalating alcoholism? If you’re concerned that you or a loved one has a drinking problem, here are seven signs that indicate seeking professional help could be necessary:
- Neglecting responsibilities at school and work: If you continually miss morning classes, perform poorly in school or skip social commitments due to being hungover, this could be a sign of problem drinking. The effects of heavy drinking often lead to lethargy and a lack of motivation, which can carry over to all facets of life.
- Neglecting other activities: Problem drinking often takes up so much time and energy that the hobbies and interests people love can fall by the wayside. If your priorities and what’s important to you have radically shifted, consider why this might be the case.
- Entering risky situations: Drunk driving is the most widely used example of dangerous behavior fueled by alcohol, but there are plenty of ways to put oneself in danger while drinking. Unsafe sex, physical confrontations or daredevil behavior can often result in injuries, criminal activity or prison time.
- Not remembering what happened: Whether you call it a memory lapse or a black out, repeated episodes of memory loss while drinking is a clear sign of a problem. Signs of a blackout include not remembering things that took place the night before or only having vague recollections.
- Relationship problems: Have you received an intervention over your drinking from friends or your spouse? Or, have you recently lost friendships or acquaintances over disputes about your drinking? It could be that you’re well aware of these consequences, yet are still choosing to drink. If your social circle is getting smaller while your alcohol use is growing, consider which is more important to you.
- Withdrawal: Withdrawal from alcohol is no joke and the process can be potentially life-threatening. Symptoms can include trembling, sweating, depression and fatigue. In severe cases, alcohol withdrawal can include fever, seizures and hallucinations. Any of the latter symptoms should be addressed by a trained physician who specializes in alcohol detox.
- Unable to stop drinking: Have you ever vowed to quit drinking the morning after a big night out? For those who make such declarations and find themselves drinking within a day or two (or even that night), this could be a sign of a larger problem. This is particularly true for those who seem to have a variety of bad experiences while drinking, yet still repeat the same patterns. In some cases, it could mean that they’re literally unable to stop.
If you or someone you know is showing signs of problematic drinking, consider looking at alcohol addiction treatment options in your area.