“You’re hardly an alcoholic!”
That’s the kind of reaction I used to get whenever I spoke to my friends about my drinking.
And to be honest, it’s the kind of thing I often said myself.
When I thought about problem drinking, I used to think in stereotypes and extremes, often picturing down-and-outs, who drank all day and had lost it all.
My life was a million miles from that. So I was fine… right?
What I didn’t realise at the time is that there’s a pretty big grey zone in between ‘normal drinking’ (whatever that actually is) and full blown, pouring-vodka-on-your-cornflakes type of drinking.
And guess what? A lot of harm and unhappiness can happen in the grey zone.
If your drinking is worrying you, but you’re not sure whether things are ‘bad enough’ yet, this blog is for you.
Here are 31 signs that indicate your drinking is becoming a problem:
1 – You spend a lot of time thinking about drinking – what, where, when, how much.
2 – You often promise to ‘just have one’, but that rarely happens. Once you start, it’s hard to stop.
3 – You’ve created lots of rules around alcohol e.g. not drinking before a set time, only allowing yourself certain types of drinks.
4 – You frequently break your own rules.
5 – You’re ashamed of your drinking and beat yourself up about it.
6 – You try to hide how much you’re drinking from those closest to you.
7 – Your partner has expressed concern.
8 – Your drinking feels like a big, heavy secret – it’s a source of stress and anxiety.
9 – You dread putting out the recycling bin. Sometimes you dispose of empties away from your home so no one else notices.
10 – Given the choice, your favourite way to drink is by yourself. Alone, you can have as much as you like without being judged.
11 – When socialising, you keep a careful eye on everyone else’s glasses to make sure you don’t drink too fast.
12 – In public, you work hard to be moderate. People would be surprised to discover quite how much you drink at home.
13 – You’re passionate about running or yoga, so everyone assumes you must be super healthy. This makes you feel like a fraud.
14 – You’re disappointed – angry, even – if you’re unexpectedly asked to be the designated driver.
15 – When someone makes a joke about your drinking, you’ll analyse it for hours, wondering why they said it and what they really know.
16 – You’re often anxious about whether there’s enough alcohol available. Will your supplies last? Should you get more?
17 – You buy your wine from different shops on rotation because you’re worried the store staff will judge you.
18 – You’ll often delay eating so you can drink without a full stomach dampening your ‘buzz’.
19 – You feel bad about rushing through things, such as your child’s bedtime story, in order to be able to drink.
20 – You’re regularly blacking out. There are long periods of time that you have no memory of.
21 – Mornings often begin with you trying to work out who you called last night and what you posted on Facebook.
22 – You frequently argue with your partner whilst drunk and then cannot remember why the next day.
23 – You drink to manage your emotions. It’s your go to whenever you’re stressed or sad or tense. You have few other coping mechanisms.
24 – After a change in circumstances, e.g. retirement or leaving a stressful job, you thought your drinking would naturally wind down, but it hasn’t.
25 – You’re permanently exhausted. Alcohol is seriously affecting the quality of your sleep.
26 – You rarely have enough energy for the hobbies you used to love.
27 – Your physical appearance is changing. Your face looks puffier.
28 – You diet hard during the day, but you’re still putting on weight – you know the empty booze calories aren’t helping.
29 – You’re scared something bad is going to happen. You’re not sure what, but you’ve had a few close shaves recently, e.g. driving when you shouldn’t.
30 – You keep googling things like ‘am I an alcoholic?’
31 – You find yourself on websites like this.
Ultimately, if your drinking feels like it’s becoming a problem, then it probably is.
You don’t need to wait for things to get worse. You don’t have to hit rock bottom in order to change – you can raise your standards any time you like.
If you need support to quit drinking or take a break from booze, you can find out more about my online course here.
Let me know in the comments…
How many of these 31 clues resonate with you? And if you’ve already quit – how did you know it was time to stop? What prompted you to take action?