In the COVID era, you may have noticed your drinking habits have changed as a shutdown of the economy occurred, and working from home became more common. Access to alcohol certainly increased for many people, and anxiety over the uncertainty of the pandemic’s impact may have compelled you to drink more frequently this year. Today, let’s look at ways to tell if your alcohol cravings have quietly become their own crisis and how to respond to an emerging alcohol use disorder.
During the COVID era, an increase in alcohol consumption, along with an experience of withdrawal symptoms in between drinking, can suggest the presence of an alcohol use disorder. Other warning signs may be a neglect of personal responsibilities and interests and drinking despite experiencing harmful consequences or legal issues related to alcohol use. For men who think they might have an alcohol use disorder, gender-specific help is available in treatment programs offering dual diagnosis treatment for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety.
Your consumption of alcohol has increased this year.
Simply drinking more alcohol isn’t an obvious sign you have developed an AUD, but some things connected to the amount can help determine if you have reached a level of problem drinking. They can include how much time you’re drinking weekly (and recovering from the effects of it), a struggle to limit the amount of drinks you consume at one time, and noticing your tolerance for alcohol has increased over the past year.
You experience withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to quit drinking.
During the hours or days between drinks, you may be experiencing strong cravings to drink again, and you may notice signs your body is dealing with withdrawal. You may feel irritable or experience anxiety or mood swings. Sleep can be affected by insomnia or nightmares, and physiological effects may include sweating, an increased heart rate, high blood pressure, and even shakes or tremors.
You neglect both responsibilities and former interests in favor of drinking.
In thinking about your next drink, you may become preoccupied enough to forget or ignore your personal priorities, including home and auto maintenance, paying bills, or grocery shopping. A lack of handling responsibilities could be creating friction at home and leading to a loss of services if bills aren’t getting paid. Even your leisure time activities may be neglected, and the social connections you maintained through those activities, such as bowling teammates or golfing buddies, may be ignored if they aren’t a part of your drinking plans.
You continue to drink despite experiencing or risking harmful consequences.
Some of the outcomes of unhealthy levels of drinking can be harmful to personal relationships, loss of a good reputation in your community, issues in the workplace, and even legal consequences. You may even drink when knowing it’s harming your health and well-being or worsening an existing medical condition. Experiencing one of these consequences and continuing to drink excessively is a sign of an alcohol use disorder needing treatment.
Your personal assessment of your drinking suggests you know alcohol is a problem for you.
One simple test you can do on your own is known as CAGE, an assessment covering four topics related to drinking. These are yes/no questions, and answering positively at least two times during the test suggests you may be at risk for an alcohol use disorder.
C – Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?
A – Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
G – Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?
E – Eye opener: Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover?
If you answered yes to at least two questions and you recognized some of the warning signs of alcohol use disorders mentioned above, finding treatment at a facility offering evidence-based therapies is a recommended next step. Beginning with a medical detox to safely manage the alcohol withdrawal symptoms, men with a SUD and potential co-occurring mental health disorder can begin working on recovery in a program specifically designed to meet their needs. For men with trauma or post-traumatic stress contributing to their drinking, a program also offering interventions for these conditions is strongly recommended.
Completing detox and overcoming withdrawal symptoms from alcohol and drug use is a vital and courageous first step in long-term recovery. Understanding detox and withdrawal symptoms can better help prepare you or a loved one when entering treatment.
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: 561-841-1019.