As we head into the holiday season filled with family get-togethers, company parties, and possibly a sense of loneliness, it’s a good time to evaluate your drinking habits. Many people enjoy a glass of wine after work now and then, or a few beers on the weekend. However, if this has ramped up in the last year, getting it under control for upcoming festivities and maybe even as a New Years resolution should be a priority. Remember that alcohol has different effects on different people and your own reaction can be altered if you are on new medication, if you’ve had a weight gain or loss, or if you’re eating a meal along with your beverage. Honestly, you probably don’t want to end up the loud one on the dance floor in front of your boss because you’ve been drinking on an empty stomach, or ruin your evening feeling dizzy and sick because you forgot that alcohol and antibiotics don’t mix well.
It’s hard to face the idea that you or a loved one has a drinking problem. Confronting it can cause confusion, high emotions, denials and anger. But if not addressed, the results can be deadly as the CDC reports that every day close to 30 people in the U.S. die in car accidents caused by a drunk driver behind the wheel. To better understand if you have an issue, here are some key points to consider:
1. You’ve become neglectful. You are generally a very organized, caring and health oriented person. However, you have started to miss daily workouts due to hangovers, or are late to get home after work because you have to stop to pick up a case of beer, or have stopped tucking your kids in because you have passed out on the couch first.
2. You are tired all the time. Over 50% of alcoholics suffer from insomnia. Drinking causes you to skip the restorative slow-wave deep sleep and get little REM sleep. You might feel drowsy and fall right to sleep after a few too many, but the drop in blood sugar a few hours later often causes you to jolt awake and find it difficult to fall back to sleep.
3. You can’t wait for your next drink. If you spend time during the day thinking that you can get through school or work, or taking care of the kids or stressful situations because you can have a drink when you get home, it’s a sign of a problem. Thinking about your next alcoholic drink during the day isn’t a good sign.
4. Your friends and family are concerned. People in your daily life are hinting or straight out telling you that your behavior is worrisome. They wouldn’t make this up and they aren’t out to get you. It’s time to seriously reflect on how you have been acting.
Considering that according to the NCADD, one in 12 adults suffer from alcohol addiction, you are not alone. It might be overwhelming to think about cutting back or abstaining as we head into the party season, but it can be done. Bring your own alcohol free drinks with you, hang out with a sober crowd, and cut out earlier than usual, before the heavy drinking begins. You will feel healthier and more in control of your life as you start out the New Year.