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Fine lines between normal and problem drinking

Fine lines between normal and problem drinking

Drinking is often regarded as a social activity and is prevalent in cultures across the world. Gulping down a glass or two is considered “normal” when perceived from social perspective. But it is difficult to establish how much of alcohol consumption is good and how much of it is bad. When normal social drinking turns into a compulsive drinking habit, the fine lines between normal and problem drinking fade away.

Problem drinking is a condition when drinkers may not have yet sunk deep into alcoholism but their drinking habits are interfering with their life. Some people do not want to call themselves as alcoholics and hence, refer to their state as problem drinking. Problem drinking includes both binge and heavy drinking. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has clearly defined the standards for binge and heavy drinking.

It is very difficult to set apart normal drinking from problem drinking. One can slide into alcohol dependence and may not realize when occasional drinking becomes an addiction.

Identifying warning signs of problem drinking

According to Joseph Nowinski, a clinical psychologist working in Connecticut, the world perceives drinking individuals in two ways – alcoholics or non-alcoholics. It is “okay” or “normal” for those who don’t drink or drink less and “abnormal” for those who have joined others in the drinking world.

In one of his published articles, Nowinski has identified the reasons of how normal drinking can become problem drinking.

  • Drinking to relieve stress and anxiety: Some people drink to relieve stress or to seek solution for a problem. However, if a person experiences stress over a long period, his/her alcohol intake is likely to rise.
  • Drinking alone: Avoiding company of friends and drinking alone shows signs of increasing tolerance and dependence on alcohol. When a person drinks in company, he/she may be discouraged to go beyond a few drinks but drinking in solitude implies uninhibited drinking behavior.
  • Drinking to overcome social anxiety: Some people encounter social anxiety when in contact with other people. It is common for such people to drink alcohol in advance to ease their nervousness or grab a drink as soon as they enter into a social gathering. However, doing so every time may reflect their rising dependence on alcohol.
  • Drinking to relieve boredom or tiredness: This mostly happens in case of single parents, unemployed people, retired professionals or widowed individuals. Being bored of life’s problems and in absence of good company, a couple of drinks can be quite comforting.

Knowing when normal drinking becomes a dependence

Most people are unaware of the gradual changes in their drinking habits. But, there are certain attributes that may indicate that a person may be developing an addiction. These are:

  • Drinking in the morning to start a day
  • Sleeping difficulties at night
  • Fatigue during the day
  • Feeling of hopelessness or depression
  • Increasing marital, work or family problems
  • Existence of an illness such as hypertension

People often argue when they are told by their family or doctors that their drinking habit is becoming problematic. They get into a denial mode and immediately become defensive. That itself is a warning sign that the person needs medical attention without any further delay.

Road to recovery 

Alcohol addiction can be really debilitation. What an individual need is a proper detox program that can help him or her on the road to recovery. Detox programs can be customized depending upon the need of the patient. The detox process helps in removing the toxins accumulated in the body from prolonged alcohol use. A comprehensive detox program uses a combination of medications and therapies to help an individual get sober.

If you or your loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction and is looking for assistance, call the Colorado Detox Helpline to know more about the best alcohol detoxification treatment centers in Colorado. You can call our 24/7 helpline number 866-730-5807 or chat online with our health counselors to get expert advice on medical centers equipped with evidence-based methods to treat alcohol detoxification in Colorado.

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