Q: I enjoy a few beers after work. That doesn’t mean I’m an alcoholic, right?
A: It’s not always easy to tell when you’ve crossed that line. Addiction of any kind can sneak up on you quicker than you might expect. Signs of trouble:
- Using drugs or alcohol to cope with stress, problems or bad feelings
- Neglecting your responsibilities
- Experiencing repeated, related legal or financial problems
- Continuing your habit, even though it’s causing problems in your relationships
- Using substances while driving or mixing alcohol and meds
Q: OK, but wouldn’t I know if I had a real problem?
A. If you’re aware of the warning signs, you may be able to take steps to cut back. But denial is a huge obstacle to getting help. Beware of lying about or drastically underestimating your usage, downplaying the negative consequences, complaining that family and friends exaggerate your problem, or blaming your use on other people.
Q: What can I do if I think I might be addicted?
A. Admitting you have a problem is a necessary first step, but that’s rarely easy. Even if you think you’re not ready to change:
- Think hard about what your drinking is costing you and the benefits of making a change.
- Talk with your doctor.
- Decide on a course of action, such as a support group or therapy (whether inpatient or outpatient) to help you safely detox.
- Find a healthy replacement habit, and develop a plan to resist triggers or cravings.
It’s also vitally important to work on your dependency issues with a therapist, sponsor or trusted friends in recovery. This could make all the difference in maintaining your new, healthy, addiction-free life.
Do you have a drinking problem?
Find out using this simple test, known as “CAGE.”
C – Do you feel like you should CUT down on your alcohol consumption?
A – Are you ANNOYED when others criticize your drinking?
G – Do you feel GUILTY about your alcohol consumption or its consequences?
E – Do you feel the need for an EYE-OPENER in the morning?
If you answered yes to two or more of these questions, it’s possible you’re drinking too much and should seek help.
Where to turn for help
HAP members, if you think you need help with alcohol or other addiction, please call the mental health and chemical dependency services number on the back of your ID card.