How do you know when you're drinking too much?

freedom grey area drinker Oct 31, 2020

How do you know when you're drinking too much?


I get asked this quite a lot.


When I was drinking too much, I spent ages dithering between "I think I need to do something about my drinking" and "I’m over-reacting, everyone drinks, I'm fine".


Our culture tells us that drinking is a normal part of life (it’s not), it’s harmless (it’s not) and that there’s a specific line that you cross from “normal drinker” into “alcoholic” (not true).


Addiction is a spectrum, and anyone who’s drinking regularly is somewhere on that spectrum.


Only you know if your drinking is ok or not.


For me, it was when I found myself hiding my empties from Matt – I just didn’t want to put them in the recycling! It looked too bad!  I thought maybe I’d take them next time I went out and put them in a bin somewhere else … and I caught myself thinking that, and thought WHAT?

I realised that something had to change.


I’d believed what Hollywood tells us, that alcoholics are rolling in the gutters clutching brown paper bags.  Or falling into their sister’s wedding cake and drink-driving in their undies, like Sandra Bullock in 28 Days.


I hadn’t realised that you can be addicted and still have a decent life and not do anything stupid.  We can still function perfectly well – we just feel a bit rubbish all day.  We look forward to wine o’clock a bit more than is comfortable.  When we can’t drink, for whatever reason, we feel annoyed and deprived.


After my hiding-the-bottles epiphany, it took me quite a lot longer to actually DO anything about it.  Almost every morning I’d wake up feeling tired and thirsty and headachey.  I’d vow to myself that I wouldn’t drink that night.  Then I’d spend all day with the thought of drinking/not drinking at the back of my mind.  When 5pm rolled around I’d decide that I’d been over thinking the whole thing. 

I was fine, everyone had a few glasses of wine and I deserved a drink.  And the whole thing would start again.


If you feel like you might be drinking too much, here are some signs to look out for:


  • You play down how much you drink
  • You quietly ask those around you about their drinking habits
  • You find yourself googling “am I an alcoholic?”
  • You feel guilty about your drinking
  • You start trying to cut back and find it hard


If you find yourself saying Yes to any of the above, the most important thing is to be kind to yourself. 


Understand that alcohol is an addictive drug, and anyone drinking regularly will be somewhere on the spectrum of addiction.


You also need to know that beating yourself up about your drinking, whilst you’re doing it to try to help yourself get control, actually has the opposite effect.  When we feel stress, our neurocircuitry is wired to move us away from these uncomfortable feelings, and will push us towards drinking.


Be kind to yourself.  Find out more about the best way to get help for you and your circumstances, whether by yourself, an on online program, with a therapist, AA etc).  Find online communities where you can get peer support.


And know this: no-one knows how to do it at first.  We all have to learn what we personally need to do to get free. Millions of people do stop drinking and find it’s the best thing they’ve ever done, and if they can do it, so you can you.





Click here for more info our online 21 Day Alcohol Reset



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