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I drink every night – am I an alcoholic?

Have you asked yourself the question “I drink every night – am I alcoholic?” If so, this suggests that you may be starting to think that you have an issue with alcohol.

It is important to remember that a person with an alcohol dependency doesn’t have to be someone who appears unkempt, whose life is in turmoil and who drinks all day. This isn’t the only reality. An alcoholic can have a good job, social life and be surrounded by family and friends. An alcoholic may also just drink in the evenings.

If your alcohol consumption has increased, and is starting to impact on your life, it may be time to look a little bit closer at your drinking habits.

Drinking every night – a sign of problem drinking or alcoholism?

Here are some of the common signs of alcoholism to think about:

  • Experiencing more and more negative consequences as a result of your drinking, such upsetting the family, or feeling increasingly guilty or ashamed
  • Drinking to the point where you ‘black out’ and can’t remember the night before, including conversations or behaviours. You may try to find out what happened by dropping hints, or only remember when someone reminds you
  • Feeling embarrassed about the amount that you drink
  • Needing a drink before you go out in case there isn’t enough. You may have also noticed that other people don’t drink in the same way as you
  • Lying to others or hiding your drinking from others
  • Drinking more than you intended on doing in the evening
  • Finding that you are drinking to relieve stress or to relax
  • Prioritising your drinking above your responsibilities, like family, work and hobbies
  • Wanting to cut down or stop drinking every night but being unable to

If you feel that you need a drink every night or to get through a social event, stressful situation or personal struggle, and you have a compulsion to drink, maybe even daily, this could be a sign of psychological dependency. This is just as serious as physical addiction, and is something to address.

Regular heavy drinking can lead to you building up a tolerance to alcohol, where you need to drink more and more to feel its effects. In an evening, you may feel that you are not getting drunk despite drinking quite a lot of alcohol - this can be a sign that you may have an alcohol problem.

Over time, if you have found that you need to drink to stave off withdrawal symptoms, like shakes, sweating or tremors, this is a sign of physical addiction too. It’s important to recognise that it is dangerous to suddenly stop drinking without first consulting your GP.

Taking steps to stop drinking every night

All forms of alcohol abuse are incredibly destructive. In order to deal with this issue, which is starting to become entrenched into daily life, it is recommended that you seek external professional support.

At Priory Group, we have numerous avenues of treatment for alcohol abuse that you can make use of:

  • Detoxification – often combined with our Addiction Treatment Programme, the detoxification process provides you with a safe environment in which to rid your body of alcohol, with medical and nursing staff available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Addiction Treatment Programmesour residential programmes provide you with the time and space away from you everyday life to really focus on why you drink and how you can start to live your life alcohol free going forward. We look at the mental, physical and emotional issues that underlie the addiction to alcohol. Through seminars, workshops, therapy sessions and individual working time, you will start to understand the causes and triggers for your alcohol use and learn strategies for life going forward without this dependency.
  • Day care treatment programmes – a number of our rehabilitation clinics offer day care programmes, which are recommended for those who don’t need detoxification or residential treatment. Through the therapy sessions and educational workshops, you learn how to achieve and maintain abstinence.  Day care programmes are also used by people who have undertaken residential treatment, as it acts as a support system as they transition from rehabilitation to home life.  
  • Outpatient treatment – if appropriate, you can also attend therapy sessions where you work with a therapist to learn and manage your triggers, work through your reasons for drinking, and develop coping strategies to help you live a healthier and happier life once again.

A free initial assessment with a member from your local rehabilitation clinic will help you to determine the right form of treatment for you. They will talk to you about your drinking, provide you with further information about the different forms of treatment, and answer any questions that you have.

Coming to recognise that you have a problem with alcohol is a big step, and one that you should feel incredibly proud for making. The next step forward is reaching out for support and focusing on addressing the problems that you have.

Blog reviewed by Pamela Roberts (BSc (Hons), Fd Systemic/Family, Dip.Addictions Therapy, Dip.Sex Addiction, PG Dip.Group Facilitation, PG Dip.Trauma Therapy), Addictions Programme Manager at Priory Hospital Woking

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