The number of people diagnosed with alcohol use disorder – the clinical term for alcoholism – has doubled from 2019 to 2022 in the United States, according to data published annually by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). Binge drinking rates among U.S. adults aged 35 to 50 also hit a record high in 2022. How can you tell if someone is drinking too much, then?
Whether you want to discover how to tell if you are drinking too much alcohol yourself or you need to establish the signs and symptoms of drinking too much alcohol in someone that you care about, this guide highlights some of the most common psychological and physical signs someone drinks too much. You will also learn how to connect with evidence-based treatment for alcohol addiction.
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How to Tell if You’re Drinking Too Much
Realizing that you might be drinking too much is a fundamental step if you’re looking to make changes.
One of the most prominent early signs that someone is drinking too much is a change in habits – drinking more often, in larger amounts, or for extended times, for instance. If you’ve noticed these patterns and have tried to cut back on drinking without success, this could indicate a mounting problem. When alcohol begins to consume a considerable amount of your time, whether that’s through the act of drinking itself or recovering from its effects, it’s a sign that alcohol is assuming a central role in your life,.
Strong urges to drink can be powerful and disruptive, taking your focus away from work, family, and other responsibilities. Cravings for alcohol are a diagnostic criteria for addiction.
The most telling sign, though, is when alcohol starts to negatively impact your daily life and relationships or impede your ability to look after yourself and those around you.
5 Signs You’re Drinking Too Much Alcohol
Here are some common signs you are drinking too much alcohol:
- Neglecting responsibilities: If alcohol consumption is taking priority over your work, family, or personal obligations, it might be a sign someone is drinking too much.
- Increased tolerance: Needing more alcohol to feel intoxicated is a clear indicator of increased tolerance, a warning sign of excessive drinking and a criteria for alcohol addiction.
- Withdrawal symptoms: Experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms like shaking, nausea, or anxiety when not drinking suggests that physical dependence on alcohol has developed.
- Risky behaviors: Engaging in dangerous activities, like driving under the influence or risky sexual behavior, while or after drinking indicates problematic alcohol use.
- Social and recreational sacrifices: Regularly choosing to drink over participating in social activities or hobbies that you previously enjoyed is a sign that alcohol is becoming a driving force in your life.
Am I Drinking Too Much?:
If your internet search history contains entries like “am I drinking too much alcohol” or “how do I know if I drink too much”, ask yourself the following questions based on the diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorder outlined in DSM-5-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). You could also use these questions as a guide to help you determine if a loved one is drinking too much alcohol.
- Have you found yourself drinking more or for longer than you meant to?
- Have you repeatedly wanted to cut down on drinking but couldn’t?
- Have you spent a lot of time drinking, getting alcohol, or recovering from drinking?
- Have you had strong urges to drink?
- Has your drinking caused trouble with your family, friends, or at work?
- Have you kept drinking even though it’s causing problems in your life?
- Have you given up activities you used to enjoy in favor of drinking alcohol?
- Have you found yourself in dangerous situations due to drinking?
- Have you continued to drink even when it made you feel anxious, depressed, or harmed your health?
- Do you have to drink more than before to feel the effects of drinking?
- Have you felt withdrawal symptoms like nausea, sweating, insomnia, a racing heart, restlessness, or shaking when not drinking?
When mental health professionals use DSM criteria to diagnose alcohol use disorder, 2 to 3 criteria indicates mild alcohol use disorder, 4 to 5 criteria is moderate alcohol use disorder, and severe alcohol use disorder involves the presentation of 6 or more criteria during a 12-month period.
How Much Alcohol Is Considered Alcoholic Behavior?
Determining what constitutes alcoholic behavior is nuanced, as it varies from person to person. That said, behavior is generally considered alcoholic when drinking becomes compulsive and uncontrollable. This might involve consuming alcohol in a way that exceeds typical social drinking norms, such as drinking heavily on a regular basis or being unable to function without alcohol. It also includes situations where alcohol use persists despite clear negative consequences to health, relationships, and responsibilities.
CDC defines heavy drinking as 15 or more drinks per week for men and 8 or more for women. Patterns that consistently meet or exceed these amounts may be indicative of alcoholic behavior, especially if coupled with an inability to reduce intake and a negative impact on daily functioning.
What are signs that you are drinking too much alcohol?
Signs that you may be drinking too much alcohol include frequently exceeding the recommended daily limits, experiencing cravings, developing a tolerance that requires you to consume more to achieve the same effects, and facing negative consequences in your personal and professional life due to your drinking habits.
Am I drinking too much beer?
If you find yourself regularly consuming beer in large quantities, feeling a need to drink beer to relax, or if your beer consumption is causing health, relationship, or work issues, it might be an indication that you are drinking too much of it.
Get Treatment for Alcohol at Renaissance Recovery
We can connect you with medical detox centers to help you with alcohol withdrawal, with medications and continuous clinical care available during detox. After a week or so of detoxification, you can move into ongoing outpatient treatment at our beachside facility.
All treatment programs offer highly personalized treatments that include:
- Psychotherapy (CBT or DBT)
- MAT (medication-assisted treatment)
- Holistic therapies
- Group therapy
- Family therapy
- Individual therapy
- Aftercare planning
To begin your recovery journey right away, call 866.330.9449.