I’m a Regular Binge Drinker – How Do I Know if I’m Developing a Problem?
I’m a binge drinker, i.e. get wasted just about every weekend, which is pretty normal I think for someone my age. I’m still pretty young – I’m only 29. What worries me though, is that for the last few months I’ve started blacking out regularly, and end up embarrassing myself and feeling terrible afterwards when my friends tell me what I did. I’ve noticed more recently as well that it takes me a few days to get over my binge and I tend to feel really depressed and withdrawn during that period.
I don’t usually drink much during the week (unless there is something social happening), but this blacking out thing has started worrying me. Once I start drinking, I also find it hard to stop. Sometimes I feel like I should give it a break, but because my social life revolves around going out and drinking, I can never bring myself to say no, even though I know how I end up.
I’ve always figured alcoholics as being people who drink every day and who are pretty much down and out so never thought I may have a problem. But I’m starting to get worried, especially with the depression and withdrawal symptoms I also seem to be getting. Should I be?
There is a misconception that you have to drink huge amounts every day and literally be living out of the gutter to be regarded as an alcoholic. Many alcoholics appear to lead very normal lives, are ‘successful’ and would be the last person you’d expect to suffer from alcoholism.
So first thing to do is rid yourself of any existing misconceptions. Many people also get hung up on labels and things like the differences between alcoholic and alcohol abuser – when none of that really matters. If alcohol is causing a problem in your life (blackouts, embarrassment, depression etc.) and you can’t simply stop drinking or drink moderately to avoid those, you know you have a problem. Because having an alcohol problem isn’t about how much you drink, but about the affects it has on you and your life.
You need to also understand that alcoholism is progressive (familiarity with the alcoholism stages
may help). In the early stages, it may not be obvious that there is a problem because your behaviour compared to others doesn’t seem that unusual, except you’re experiencing major undesirable affects because of your drinking (which are all major warning signs by the way that a more serious problem is developing). What you don’t want to do is ignore those and wait till things have gotten progressively worse and you end up with an advanced case of alcoholism, where you will literally be down and out.
The test for you now is to see if you can control your drinking, without it being a struggle to do so. If you can, maybe you’re just going through a phase, and all you need to do is learn to be a bit more assertive with your friends so that you don’t get roped into binge drinking so regularly.
The fact that you’re here means you sense alcohol affects you differently to how it affects everyone else, which is something to be careful of, because that tends to be the case with most alcoholics. If you find you can’t control things, let us know and we can try and look at your options for dealing with this.