A cold beer on a hot summer afternoon... a glass of wine at with that special dinner... so what’s the problem?
In most cases, moderate consumption of alcohol isn’t a problem, but for growing numbers of people, their drinking doesn’t stop with just a couple of beers.
Researchers at the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimate that 30 percent of Americans will suffer from alcohol dependence or abuse sometime during their lives.
As importantly, many people facing drinking problems fail to recognize they have a problem.
That failure is understandable. The short term effect of drinking is a positive one, making us feel good. It’s difficult to link those good feelings to the negative consequences which tend to occur later, may be subtle at first, and may seem unrelated to our drinking. However, when someone takes the time to check for possible drinking problems, there often are clear warning signs:
v Have people close to you complained about your drinking?
v Has drinking caused problems related to your job or school work?
v Has drinking led to the loss of friends?
v Have there been drinking-related arguments with family or other loved ones?
v Have you been arrested for drunk driving or other drinking-related behavior?
v Are there mornings when you can’t remember parts of the previous evening?
v Has drinking led you to neglect work, family, school or other obligations?
v Have you felt guilty about your drinking or thought that you ought to drink less?
If you can answer “yes” to any of these questions, it doesn’t mean you are an alcoholic or a problem drinker, but it does indicate the need for a professional evaluation.
Many counselors specialize in assessing and treating possible drinking problems.
Ask your local mental health center or hospital for a list of possible counselors, or check the yellow pages under counseling professionals, looking for counselors who specialize in substance abuse. The most important thing is to take action.
Studies report problem drinkers often wait as long as ten years before seeking help, and even then less than a quarter of them actively seek help.
Looking into your drinking behavior doesn’t indicate you’re weak or sick, but rather that you want to take control a situation before it gets out of hand.
A professional counselor can help make that happen.
The Counseling Corner is provided as a public service by the American Counseling Association, the nation’s largest organization of counseling professionals.