Alcohol abuse is a precursor to alcoholism. No one indulges in alcohol, thinking that they may become an alcoholic. However, as drinking becomes a habit, the transition to alcohol abuse becomes a reality. Once a person has a problem with alcohol abuse, he or she is at risk of becoming an alcoholic.
Alcoholics are physically and mentally addicted to alcohol. They cannot control when and where they drink and have no power over how much alcohol they consume. Their mood sours, and they exhibit shaking or other withdrawal symptoms when they cannot drink. Over time, alcohol abuse and alcoholism take a toll on a person’s health. Problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, and cancer are all associated with alcohol abuse.
People engaging in alcohol abuse are those who have more than three drinks in one sitting. Alcohol abuse can take two patterns: early-onset and late-onset alcohol abuse. A person who has always been a heavy drinker may engage in alcohol abuse as they age because the body becomes sensitized to alcohol as a person gets older.
Someone who engages in late-onset alcohol abuse may have never had a problem with alcohol but begins drinking due to life changes such as the loss of a loved one or a stressful situation at work. Engaging in alcohol abuse to cope with stress, anxiety, and depression is a vicious cycle. Alcohol abuse appears to bring relief to users who are dealing with problems in their lives. However, eventually, these problems become centered on the user’s alcohol abuse.
If you are worried you might be engaging in alcohol abuse, here are steps you can take to limit your drinking and decrease your chances of developing alcoholism.
- Write down a list of reasons for cutting down on your drinking.
- Set a goal to drink no more than one drink a day if you are a woman or two drinks a day if you are a man.
- Keep a written record of how much alcohol you consume and when you drink.
- Limit how much alcohol you keep in your home.
- Try to abstain from drinking for one or two days a week, then increase to one full week of abstinence.
- Practice ways to decline drinks that are offered to you.
- Spend the money you would otherwise spend on alcohol to treat yourself to dinner, a movie, or a round of golf.
- Share your goals with your friends and family and ask them to support you.
- Stay away from those who engage in alcohol abuse or give you a hard time cutting down on alcohol.
- Don’t have a drink when you are in a bad mood.
- And finally, don’t give up.
With a support structure in place and the desire to live healthily, you will prevail over alcohol abuse. Even if you slip up a couple of times, don’t let that be an excuse to fall back into bad habits. If you find that these steps are not helping you overcome alcohol abuse, talk to your doctor, who will be able to recommend an alcohol treatment program.