Do you know the difference between
Alcohol Use and Abuse?
It is a fine line between having a drink after work or with friends, or binge drinking. So how do you know if you, a loved one or a friend has a drinking problem?
We often see having a drink as a social occasion or as a way to relax after a particularly stressful day in the office, but are we using it as a tool to relax or as a way to cover up a much bigger problem? You may think that drinking is the solution, but it could be just covering up the symptoms of anxiety, stress or depression.
So how much is “just a drink?”
Just a drink can vary quite a bit depending on the size of the drink and what type of alcohol it is that you are drinking. According to some studies, the most that a man should drink is no more than four drinks per day or a total of fourteen drinks in a single week. For women because they process alcohol differently it is three drinks per day or a total of seven drinks in a week. Obviously, there is some room for movement on this, pregnant people, people under 21 or anyone with medical conditions should consult with their health professional.
So What Exactly Is Alcohol Doing to You?
Alcohol has a wide range of effects on the body, some long, some short. First you will notice a change in mood, lack of inhibitions and more energy. After this, you will go in the complete opposite, and then you may experience a hangover. For long term drinkers, the effects can be a lot more damaging. You could experience permanent organ damage, disease, and memory problems.
There are some other effects of alcohol that you may not be aware of. Alcohol may help you sleep if you are suffering from insomnia due to anxiety or depression, but is it helping? Alcohol interferes with you REM or Rapid Eye Movement which is an essential part of your sleep cycle. REM sleep is believed to be one of the stages of sleep that gives you the most rest and recuperation. Often people that use alcohol to sleep wake up feeling tired, irritated and unable to sleep the next day.
We may feel happier while we are drinking, but alcohol alters the levels of serotonin in our brains. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter or chemical that the brain uses to regulate our moods. One of the leading causes of mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorders is an unbalance of serotonin in our brains.
Three Types of Drinking Problems
- Heavy Drinking is when someone consumes more than the daily or weekly limits that are advised.
- Binge drinking is when someone consumes more than the daily average in a short period on a regular basis. Binge drinking often results in blackouts or extreme memory loss.
- Alcoholism is a disorder that often leaves people with an uncontrollable urge to drink all the time, an inability to stop once they start drinking and often feel ill because of withdrawal symptoms if they don’t drink. Some common withdrawal symptoms are anxiety, trembling or shaking, sweats and nausea.
Are You or A Loved One Abusing Alcohol?
There are some easy questions that you could ask or ask someone about their drinking habits. Be aware that people who may be suffering from drinking problems will most likely deny or become defensive about answering these questions, so a certain amount of consideration needs to be used.
- Is your or their personality different when you or they drink?
- Do you or they drink to gain the courage to face awkward social situations?
- Has drinking ever caused you or them to miss work or other important appointments?
- Is alcohol used to escape problems when you or they are upset?
- Is it hard for them to stop drinking after they have had one or two drinks?
- Do you or they always end up drunk, once they start drinking?
- Have you attempted to drink less alcohol or drink none at all, but failed?
- Do you sometimes suffer from blackouts while a drink or after?
- Do you or they ever regret anything that you’ve done under the influence?
- Have your friends or family ever tried to talk to you about drinking?
- Has your work or theirs been affected because of drinking?
- Have you ever thought of or seen a friend who needed a drink in the morning to get going after a big night of heavy drinking?
Getting Some Help for Your Drinking
The good news is that there is a wide variety of friends and professionals out there that are ready to help. Speaking with a counsellor is often the preferred way to deal with mental health problems. If you feel that you or a loved one may be suffering from alcoholism, then don’t hesitate to contact us at www.dynamicdiscovery.ca