People become addicted to alcohol for a variety of reasons. Some start drinking because their…
The Last Hangover Ever
Most of us have experienced this at least once: the pounding headache, the spinning room, the dry mouth and aching eyeballs, the nausea with the looming threat of vomiting. A hangover is one of the worst feelings in the world, and yet many of us have had more than one. If the experience is so awful, why do we let it happen more than once? And if you are asking yourself this every weekend and making promises on a weekly basis to never let it happen again, does it mean you have a problem?
The line between drinking as an enjoyable social engagement and being an alcoholic may seem fuzzy and vague. Even more difficult to decide is when you have crossed the line from responsible social drinking into the territory of alcohol abuse, if not dependence. It is true that there is a difference between alcohol abuse and alcoholism, or dependence. Many, many people abuse alcohol, and some enter the more dangerous territory of addiction and dependence. So you do you know where you stand?
If you are vowing never to drink so much again once or more a week, for several weeks in a row and spending one day in bed due to a hangover, chances are you have at least the beginnings of a problem with alcohol. Alcohol abuse is not as serious as full-blown alcoholism, but it does carry with it adverse health effects and the possibility of becoming an addict with continued abuse. There are several signs of abuse that addiction specialists look out for:
- Neglecting responsibilities. If your hangovers are getting in the way of your work, your studies, or your responsibilities with your children, step back and take a good look at your drinking. The occasional hangover that prevents you from doing something you were supposed to do is not tragic, but when this begins to happen repeatedly, you have a problem.
- Drinking and driving. Abuse may include using alcohol and then performing tasks that have risks, such as driving or operating heavy machinery. If you do this, you are abusing alcohol.
- Problems with relationships. Maybe your spouse or significant other would like you to drink less. Maybe you become belligerent and argumentative while drinking. If you persist and continue to drink despite the effects it is having on your relationships, alcohol is a problem in your life.
- Self-medicating. Think about when you drink and why. A drinking problem is likely to arise when you use alcohol regularly to de-stress, to relax, or to forget about painful memories.
The bottom line is that if you are using alcohol in ways that endanger your health or interfere with important aspects in your life, such as relationships and work, then you have a problem and are on a dangerous path that could end in addiction.
If you fear that your hangover occurrences and your inability to stop having them means that you have a problem with alcohol, you have a great chance to step back and moderate your behaviors. Alcohol abuse does not have to lead to alcohol dependence. You have the power to turn it around. If you continue to drink, however, these are signs that you may have become dependent on alcohol:
- Tolerance. The first sign of alcoholism is when you realize that you need more and more alcohol to get tipsy and to get drunk. As you drink too much, your body becomes tolerant to the alcohol and you need more of it to get the usual high.
- Withdrawal. The next warning sign, and one which you should take very seriously, is withdrawal. If you begin to experience certain symptoms when you have not been drinking for a stretch of time, you should be very concerned. These symptoms can include shaking and trembling, anxiety, sweating, insomnia, depression, irritability, nausea and vomiting, and headache. You are experiencing withdrawal if you have any of these symptoms and a drink alleviates them.
- Severe disruptions in your life. The disruptions that alcohol abuse causes in your life are still in the mild stage. When alcohol completely takes over and becomes a priority over other aspects of your life, you have probably crossed the line from abuse to dependence.
Denial is also common amongst people who either abuse alcohol or are dependent. If you are asking yourself questions about your drinking, you are in a good position to stop and get help. If you see the signs in loved one, he or she may be heavily in denial and hard to reach. It is important that you try to convince this person to get help before it is too late.