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How Do I Know If I’m an Alcoholic?

Feb 8, 2021

You’ve likely read thousands of facts about alcohol and problem drinking so let’s shift the focus a bit for today’s topic. Statistics provide some information about how alcohol affects users, but these are often “scare tactics” used to inspire someone to quit drinking. Instead, let’s put the attention on what you’re missing by avoiding recovery and how to tell when you’ve reached a point where you need help to start treatment.

Someone with an alcohol use disorder lives a life where alcohol may be integrated into everything they do. Even when alcohol has negative consequences, a person with an AUD may continue to drink, make unsafe choices, and put themselves and others in harm’s way. Learning to replace drinking by engaging in healthy recovery actions is a skill that gets learned and practiced by patients in an alcoholic rehab program. Some of those skills can involve working out, being creative, cooking, and turning to supportive, understanding people.

What is Considered an Alcoholic?

How much someone drinks and their behaviors related to alcohol use can be used to identify an alcohol use disorder (AUD). It won’t look the same for everyone, but there are standards for defining alcoholism. They come from what’s known as DSM-5. This stands for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

The DSM-5 uses criteria to determine the presence of an AUD. Cravings, often known as the mental obsession or the compulsion to drink, and spending a lot of time drinking are on the list of criteria. Having a desire to cut back on alcohol but feeling unable to do so is on the list, too. Someone with an AUD may continue drinking even when it harms their relationships and their job. They may give up interests and activities that get in their way of drinking. Signs of alcoholism also include a user putting themselves and others in danger when drinking, such as drinking and driving.

How to Handle Cravings to Drink

Treatment can help you find release and freedom so that the urge to drink does not return again and again. If you are actively engaged in healthy actions, you will not have to “watch out” for alcohol cravings for the rest of your life. When fleeting thoughts occur, have a process for approaching them. You can talk with your sponsor, sponsor others, focus on mindfulness or meditation, and volunteer. These are just a few of many ways you can refocus your attention and maintain your sobriety. Finding a positive group of sober people who do not encourage you to drink can also be wildly helpful, especially in those early days of recovery. Treatment can create a sober environment where you can practice skills to handle the ups and downs of life and receive the tools for managing the desire to drink.

What to Do Instead of Drinking

In addition to drinking alcohol, people with an AUD often spend a lot of time thinking about alcohol and planning times to drink. As you begin your new life, start a list of alternatives to drinking and think about what fits naturally into your life now. Find new hobbies to explore and try social activities you may have ignored during your drinking days. Many people find that sobriety gives them the opportunity to explore other healthy activities, such as working out, yoga, cooking, reading, meditation, and volunteering.

Connecting with other people is another way to invest time in something other than drinking. Some initial choices may be going to a meeting, calling a sponsor, or spending time with happy, sober people. Finding a special interest group is another option. A group that meets in person or online gives you a chance to connect with others and build healthy relationships. You may even find supporting others and being a person of service in your community becomes a preferred replacement behavior for drinking.

Find Treatment at Origins Recovery Center.

For people who have developed an AUD, safely starting recovery begins with medical detox. Once in a program, treatment for addiction helps a patient learn the skills needed to sustain their recovery long-term. By connecting with peers, a patient also can learn how others have been affected by drinking and how community-building is a vital skill for a healthy life. Patients with co-occurring disorders discover why treating underlying mental health conditions increases the chance of a successful recovery.


Origins Recovery Center is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 866-875-1558.

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