Here are certain warning signs of problem drinking or alcoholism which needs treatment:
- An inability to control alcohol intake after starting to drink
- Obsessing about alcohol (i.e., when is next time the person can drink, how they are going to get alcohol, who they’re going to go out drinking with)
- Behaving in ways, while drunk, that is totally uncharacteristic of their sober personality.
- Repeating unwanted drinking patterns.
- Surrounding themselves socially with heavy drinkers.
- Getting drunk before actually arriving at parties/bars (pre-partying).
- Increasing their sense of denial that heavy drinking is not a problem because they are able to succeed professionally and personally, and is does not hinder their life.
- Setting drinking limits (i.e., only having 3 drinks, only drinking 3 days per week) and not being able to adhere to them.
- Driving drunk and by sheer luck, not getting arrested or involved in an accident.
- Always having to finish an alcoholic beverage or even another person’s unfinished beverage.
- Using alcohol as a reward.
- Drinking daily.
- Living a double life by separating drinking life from professional or home life.
- Binge drinking (more than 5 drinks in one sitting).
- Having chronic blackouts (memory lapse due to excessive drinking) and not remembering what they did for a portion of their drinking episode.
- Feeling guilt and shame about their drunken behaviours, once sober.
- Taking breaks from drinking and then increasing alcohol consumption when they resume drinking after a period of time.
The author is a Mumbai based psychiatrist.