Learn what alcohol abuse looks like, and find resources to help.
Living in New Orleans, it can be especially hard to recognize the signs of alcohol abuse. Where else do residents celebrate virtually every victory with a cocktail? Where else can you bounce from bar to bar on multiple streets, spending so little on so many drinks?
For some people, balancing alcohol intake with healthy eating and good hydration is no problem. For others, though, the line starts to blur, until alcohol enjoyment turns into alcohol abuse, and then into alcohol dependence — otherwise known as alcoholism.
April is national Alcohol Awareness Month, sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Learn to acknowledge and address the signs of alcohol abuse in yourself, your friends and loved ones. From there, you can take steps to get help.
SIX SIGNS OF ALCOHOL ABUSE
Having Multiple Drinks Every Day
Moderate alcohol consumption is defined as “up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drinking more than this, especially for an extended period of time, can affect your health and lead to alcohol dependence.
Drinking to Manage Stress
We’ve all used alcohol to “take the edge off” after a stressful day, but drinking is not a coping strategy. The NCADD notes, “Many drinking problems start when people use alcohol to relieve stress.” If you find yourself thinking that you “need” a drink, it may be time to step back and look at the pattern.
Ability to Self-Moderate
Ideally, we’d be able to set a one-to-two-drink limit for ourselves, and stick to it. However, alcohol abusers may have trouble moderating how much alcohol they drink, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Neglect of Responsibilities
Subtle slips in important areas of your life can indicate that alcohol is affecting your ability to fulfill daily responsibilities. If you’re having difficulty performing consistently at work, taking care of your kids or attending scheduled engagements — it’s a sign that alcohol may be controlling you.
Alcohol Use in Dangerous Situations
Because alcohol intake impairs judgment and slows reaction time, driving while intoxicated is one of the most dangerous things you can do. Other risky situations include pairing alcohol with other mood-altering substances; operating machinery; and drinking in a bad neighborhood, according to the NCADD.
Legal Problems Due to Drinking
Alcohol abusers may be arrested for drinking and driving; those who get violent when drinking may also find themselves in trouble with the law.
If you recognize one or more of these behaviors in yourself or someone you know, seek help from friends, family and local resources. The Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse for Greater New Orleans (cadagno.org) is a community health agency that can help you assess the impact of alcohol or substance abuse on your life.