Is my alcohol use a problem?

  • Published
  • By Ramstein
  • ADAPT Clinic
In the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment clinic, we will often see individuals who refer themselves to the clinic for an assessment because they are unsure if their alcohol use is at a problematic level. This is a great time for someone to reach out for help because they are catching a potential problem before someone else does (either through a DUI, drunk-on-duty, or another alcohol related incident). For these individuals, we will conduct a thorough assessment of their alcohol history to determine how they have used it in the past and how they are currently drinking to help them determine the impact it may or may not be causing on their life.

A problematic pattern of alcohol use often leads to significant distress. We look at difficulties related to alcohol being used in hazardous situations such as drinking and driving as well as social problems including important activities being given up or reduced because of alcohol use, including hobbies or time spent with family and friends.

Individuals having problems controlling their alcohol use often try to cut down or control their use but these efforts are unsuccessful. If you are spending a great deal of time in activities that involve obtaining and  using alcohol, or recovering the next day from the effects of your drinking, this means you are drinking to a point where it could seriously impact your physical health.

You might experience cravings, strong desires, or urges to use alcohol and may use it in larger amounts or over a longer period of time than intended. Problematic alcohol use often leads to challenges fulfilling major roles or tasks at home, work or school.

Another area to be aware of is if you need an increased amount of alcohol to feel buzzed or you have less of an effect when you drink the same amount of alcohol over time. Finally, if you are experiencing symptoms when you aren't using alcohol such as sweating, increased heart rate, hand tremors, insomnia, nausea or vomiting, agitation, anxiety or seizures, this could be indicative of a serious problem requiring medical attention.

Alcohol use is no longer classified as an abuse or dependency problem but is viewed instead, on a spectrum of mild, moderate or severe levels of impairment. What this means is that you do not have to experience all of the above concerns to show that there is a potential problem with alcohol use.

As you can see by reading the list above, if you are struggling with just one of the above mentioned symptoms, it can significantly impact your life, social functioning and overall health. Catch a problem early and get help! There are many agencies and supportive people willing to guide you in the right direction and help you get back on track to living your life happily.

If you find yourself questioning whether it is a problem, talk to your supervisor, medical provider, chaplain, Military Family Life Consultant, mental health or ADAPT. Give us a call at DSN 479-2390 or 06371462390.