So many people are out there right now with drinking problems it’s unbelievable. As a recovering alcoholic who chose to totally abstain from drinking I see them all the time. Oh, I know what you’re thinking, because I was a drunk who now doesn’t partake in the devils elixir I’m ultra sensitive and think every social drinker out there has a problem. You might be right except I’m now just an observer concerning myself directly only with people who I know personally that ask for my help.
I still attend celebrations, go to restaurants and even bars occasionally with friends or family. I have become a keen observer of people in social settings and what alcohol does to them, especially in public. There was a time I wanted to walk up to them and tell them they needed help out of some ridiculous “save the world” obligation I felt. But not anymore. Now I just think how sad it is that this person could be on a very slippery slope.
I’ve been asked how I knew I was an alcoholic. I’ve been asked if I think someone else may be an alcoholic. Problem drinkers sometimes sense they need help and curtail their consumption on their own, others just continue to drink until Johnny Law puts an end to it with a breathalyzer test and a court date. In these cases often the embarrassment may be enough for them to seek help. Others just keep ignoring the fact until one day they realize they can’t function without alcohol and are in over their head. That’s the slippery slope I mentioned earlier.
I decided to write out a list of signs that may indicate you are a problem drinker. So read carefully and if you recognize any of these signs in yourself or someone you know then seek help soon.
You May Have A drinking Problem If:
• You have a bottle of booze in your desk drawer at work. I worked in of offices like this where the boss had the bottle or bottles in the desk drawer. What’s it doing there? Why? • You are the only one still drinking at a house party, you are raring to go and everyone else is leaving, already left or hinting at going to bed. • You need an extra unopened bottle of your drink of choice in the cabinet beside the bottle you’ve already made a dent in, just in case. • You leave that same house party above and start drinking once you get home. • You try hiding an extra bottle in your old top coat pocket at the back of the closet and the “clank” you hear is the forgotten bottle you put their three weeks ago. • you keep telling everyone who asks that you don’t have a drinking problem • You wake up with a hangover 2 days in a row. Most normal people who tie one on will stay away from the grape at least for a few days! • You make excuses to stop for a drink during work hours. • You are too embarrassed to put all your empties in the recycle bin so you wrap a few in newspapers and stick them in the larger super tough garbage bags and put them on the curb. • You can’t remember the Kiss you laid on your boss at the office party. He wasn’t very impressed by your beard stubble. • You don’t control your drink intake at the office party and someone mentions to you to slow down. • You drink to “get in the mood” before visiting difficult people in your life like in-laws or spouses friends you’re meeting for the first time. • You may be a problem drinker if you run out of alcohol and end up drinking from the dusty bottle of Crème de Mint cooking liqueur behind the pots and pans. • The people at your local liquor store are becoming more friendly and familiar with you. • You are risking your life and the life of others by driving more often with a couple drinks in you – because you think you’re fine. • You are doing more of your relaxed drinking on your own, more often and liking the solitude. • You find yourself asking others to drink with you so you DON”T have to drink alone. • You feel uncomfortable when in a social setting others talk about heavy drinking or discuss people they know who are heavy drinkers. • You find that you like the feeling you have after a few drinks and like to maintain that feeling. Most social drinkers stop when they feel tipsy. • Drinking only on weekends has changed to drinking during the week. • You party every weekend with friends who are as “into” the every weekend get together as you are. Hard drinking is problem drinking. • One morning you wake up hung over and have that first A.M drink to take the edge off the night before. • When you attend a party you are disappointed to find out it’s a cash bar. An open bar means no cap on your consumption and a cash bar means you’ll have to wait until you get home to top up your daily drink quota. • You’re missing more dinners than ever before because you are drinking after work with the gang from work. You begin to expect the argument when you get home. • You really look forward to Fridays because it’s an ideal drinking night with no work the next day, you can stay up later and drink, oh, and your favorite after work pub has happy hour!
I’m sure there are hundreds of studies, medical research and university research papers on the subject of the warning signs of alcoholism. If not there should be, however what I have outlined here are real life cautions. Some examples of the above include a young professional woman I met at my wife’s office Christmas party. She was my spouse’s new boss and was recently promoted to her position.
We all arrived (several hundred of us) to before dinner drinks being served in a hall with casual schmoozing going on. “Anne” could not have been there for more than an hour when we arrived and living up to the rumor mill she was already intoxicated to the point that she didn’t make sense when she spoke. I asked my wife if maybe her false teeth were loose but “Anne” had bragged about having three glasses of wine already and was trying to lasso a waiter for a fourth glass that she could have with dinner!
As the night wore on she embarrassed herself and needless to say she was out of the company within two months from that night. Why do people put themselves in these situations? Surely they know it’s not acceptable behavior. No, the problem drinker doesn’t think that way. It’s the feeling of the high they’re after and in a social setting even more so If they are nervous.
Or how about the proper English society lady who when time came to dispose of her empty wine bottles, would pack them in wash baskets and go for a drive in the country pitching them out the window into the ditch so she could get rid of them anonymously. Some problem drinkers are not very environmentally friendly. Here was a fully functional, well bred person who thought she was a social drinker until garbage day arrived and the guilt set in.
All I can say is if you even think you have a drinking problem or know someone who you suspect may have one, help is available. When it comes to the phrase “where there’s smoke - there’s fire”, suspecting someone may have a drinking problem means chances are they do.
To set up an appointment with Michael Pearlman, M.D., Call 1 (866) 285-3400 toll-free or (617) 620-2230,