5 Ways to Know if You Have a Drinking Problem

by Kelly Fitzgerald |

One of the questions I’ve been asked the most in my sobriety is, “How did you know? How did you know you had a drinking problem?” I believe this is a question all of us sober folks ask ourselves when we’re still drinking. I had dodged the question for years because I wasn’t ready to look at it. In fact, I listed reason after reason that I wasn’t an alcoholic and didn’t have a drinking problem. I had a justification and an excuse for everything. If you’re reading this, however, you might be wondering, how do you know? How do you know if it’s time to stop drinking?

1. You’re constantly contemplating if you have a drinking problem

If I am honest with myself, I think back and know that I was contemplating whether my drinking was problematic for many years. I surrounded myself with people who drank the way I did and who were social and wanted to go out to places where drinking was involved. I justified things like blacking out, nasty hangovers, and other consequences by saying these things happen to everyone, when that’s just not true. If you’ve ever had the fleeting though that you might have a drinking problem, I encourage you to look into this deeper. Why are you having this thought? What is your relationship with alcohol, and how has it changed? People who don’t have alcohol issues don’t normally have these thoughts.

2. The day after you drink you feel like crap

There are always those people who say they don’t get hangovers, or those who continue drinking right away to avoid them. Not getting hangovers isn’t necessarily a good thing, as it could mean that your body has built up a tolerance to alcohol. Additionally, alcohol can still negatively impact your body even if you don’t necessarily feel like crap right away. If you’ve had a day where you feel like crap after drinking – whether it’s feeling tired, experiencing anxiety or depression, stomach pains, a headache, or regret over things you did while intoxicated, this should alert you to taking a look at your relationship with alcohol. People who truly drink moderately do not experience these symptoms the day after.

3. You’ve experienced several negative consequences from drinking

A Man Questioning Whether Or Not He Has A Drinking ProblemThis goes hand-in-hand with feeling physically different after a night of drinking. If you’ve experienced negative consequences like injuring yourself or someone else, getting in trouble with the law, breaking or losing your phone, having your purse stolen, losing clothes, or not remembering exactly what happened, you might have an issue with alcohol. Other secondhand consequences like fighting with your partner, being late to work, or strained relationships with friends and family count here also. I think everyone in the world who has consumed alcohol has experienced one of these consequences, but it’s when they start to pile up that you might want to worry. The best way to consider this as a part of your relationship with alcohol is to think, would this have happened if I wasn’t drinking?

4. It’s hard to find a true balance with drinking

If you’ve tried several times to find moderation while drinking but always go back to drinking in an unhealthy way, it’s safe to say you are misusing alcohol. This is one of the classic signs of needing to get sober. I had the desire to find a true balance with my drinking for years, but I could never find it. Trying to regulate my drinking made me unhappy, desperate, and I felt like a failure when it didn’t work. It drove me crazy to know I couldn’t find a happy medium when it came to alcohol. It wasn’t until I got sober that I learned how hard this actually is. If you’re feeling bad about yourself for not finding a balance, you are not alone. It’s impossible for many of us and sobriety helps to relieve that pressure.

5. You find yourself wondering what life would be life without alcohol

Another deep question you might find your soul asking during your drinking years is what would life be like without alcohol? I hated to admit this fact, but I definitely wondered what life would be like without my toxic relationship with booze. I wondered if it was possible to quit, and if I could, what kind of life would I live? Would it be fun, exciting, or interesting? Would I still travel and meet fun people? Would I ever get rid of my feelings of shame and guilt? Now that I’m on the other side, I know the answers to all of these questions, and I can honestly say that wondering what life would be like without alcohol eventually led me to getting sober. If you’re wondering about this for yourself, you might want to give sobriety a shot and see how it works out for you.

These are just 5 indicators that you might have an issue with alcohol. There are many others, but for those of us who struggle with knowing whether or not we need to quit, these pressing questions and feelings can be the bridge to getting help.

Photo of Kelly Fitzgerald

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