Alcohol plays a large part in American culture — almost every restaurant serves it, you find it at concerts and sporting events, parties rarely are dry and even Sunday brunches are characterized by mimosas. This isn’t an inherently wrong or bad thing, but it is something to be aware of, especially if recreational drinking becomes so frequent, you begin to suspect the presence of a potentially much bigger problem.
What is recreational drinking?
Recreational drinking is any of the scenarios mentioned above — having a mimosa with friends over brunch, drinking a beer during a tailgating event or sipping something during your office Christmas party. Recreational drinking, in and of itself, is not a problem when done in moderation. What does become a problem is when this recreational activity turns into a habit that eventually grows out of control.
Unfortunately, recreational drinking can turn into an alcohol use disorder if left unchecked.
Signs recreational drinking might have gone too far
Recreational drinking is different from alcoholism in the definition of the thing itself; whereas recreational drinking is done on occasion in a social setting, alcoholism is defined as “a medical condition characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.” Recreational drinking is easily controlled, but alcoholism, unfortunately, is not.
Certain signs are likely to be present if recreational drinking has turned into an alcohol use disorder.
1. Excessive drinking
One or two drinks at an event would not be considered excessive drinking, but multiple drinks in a short period of time can easily exceed the limit. Additionally, going out multiple nights in a row, consuming a large amount of alcohol at home alone or drinking to the point of intoxication every time alcohol is present can be an indicator that a more serious problem is present.
2. Unable to stop the habit of drinking
When an individual tries to stop or limit the amount they’re drinking, but the change in behavior only lasts for a few days or weeks, it could be a sign of alcohol use disorder. Alcohol changes the way the brain functions, so if increased amounts of alcohol are consumed over a period of time, it can become very difficult for you to break the habit since that also means rewiring your brain.
3. Drinking in the morning
If someone drinks alcohol in the morning, whether it’s to combat a hangover or to alleviate withdrawal symptoms, this could be a good indicator that recreational drinking has turned into a serious problem. Needing to consume alcohol to stave off withdrawal symptoms is your body indicating how alcohol is changing the way it should be functioning.
4. Missing work or school
Once alcohol use begins to interfere with obligations like work, school or even social life, it is a very good indicator that recreational drinking has turned into something more problematic.
An individual who drinks a lot will notice that over time it takes more or higher percentage of alcohol to reach the same level of intoxication or “buzz.” This is a sign that the alcohol is changing the functions in your body, which can quickly lead to an alcohol use disorder and/or addiction.
6. Withdrawal symptoms
When a person tries to stop or cut back on drinking and withdrawal symptoms develop, it is likely an alcohol use disorder of some severity is present. Some signs of withdrawal include:
Serious withdrawal symptoms include fever, extreme GI upset or diarrhea, hallucinations and delirium tremens. If you experience any of these serious withdrawal symptoms, seek medical attention right away.
7. Health effects
If drinking alcohol is causing negative health effects, it’s probably a sign that recreational drinking has crossed the line into an alcohol use disorder. When problems such as high blood pressure, excessive weight gain, heart rhythm disturbances and blackouts occur, it may be time to seek professional help.
8. Cutting back or giving up activities
Neglecting activities that used to be important, interesting or pleasurable in order to drink is an additional possible sign that recreational drinking is actually something more serious. Choosing to cater to a potential addiction might indicate that the problem is actually out of your control and requires help managing.
Can I get help for out-of-control recreational drinking?
If you or a loved one have any of these symptoms, an alcohol use disorder may be a cause for concern. Speak to a professional mental health counselor or treatment center, and undergo a formal assessment to see if further help is needed. There is a wide range of treatment options to improve the chances of recovery for anyone who suffers from alcohol abuse or dependence. With the right help, recovery is possible.
To begin your healing journey today, contact Silvermist Recovery by calling 724-268-4858 to learn more.