It is always important to be self-aware – it is how we learn more about ourselves, how we gain awareness of the world around us and our role in it, and how we can recognize habits and routines we have (which we may or may not like). 

Self-awareness can lead us to self-reflection, meaning it can cause us to reflect on behaviors we find ourselves falling into routinely – again, these behaviors may be either positive or negative. 

One particular aspect of self-awareness includes paying attention to coping mechanisms and consumption of unhealthy food or drink as a result. Alcohol is a coping mechanism used by many in the hopes of soothing nerves, fitting in with a crowd (peer pressure) and reducing anxiety. But how much is too much, and when does this habit become a cause for concern?

How can you tell if you’re drinking too much alcohol?

To an extent, this question is somewhat relative. For example, alcohol is too much alcohol for a woman who is pregnant. For someone taking prescription medication, their tolerance may be significantly lower as a result, or their body may just not be able to tolerate any amount due to the interactions of the two substances.

Professionally researched recommendations exist on how much alcohol a person can consume: “To reduce the risk of alcohol-related harms, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults of legal drinking age can choose not to drink, or to drink in moderation by limiting intake to two drinks or less in a day for men or one drink or less in a day for women, on days when alcohol is consumed.”

That being said, the World Health Organization came out earlier this year with a statement insisting no amount of alcohol is harmless: “We cannot talk about a so-called safe level of alcohol use. It doesn’t matter how much you drink – the risk to the drinker’s health starts from the first drop of any alcoholic beverage. The only thing that we can say for sure is that the more you drink, the more harmful it is – or, in other words, the less you drink, the safer it is.”

So even if you are following the recommended two or fewer drinks for men per day, or one or fewer drinks for women, there is still a calculated risk to your health upon consumption.

From a medical standpoint, anything more than this would be considered drinking too much alcohol. But what about the threshold of consuming more than is recommended from a medical perspective and feeling like the amount you drink is bordering alcohol abuse? Where does that line lie?

Am I an alcoholic?

If you are asking yourself the question, “Am I an alcoholic?” it is probably safe to assume that your consumption of alcohol is higher than it should be. Of course, only a medical/mental health professional can give you a formal diagnosis of alcohol use disorder, but you are likely to see unwanted behaviors and patterns in your life regarding alcohol use before a medical professional gets involved.

Signs you may be battling alcohol use disorder include:

  • Craving alcohol, and finding yourself thinking about how and when you can satisfy that craving
  • Spending exorbitant amounts of money on alcohol even if you begin struggling financially as a result of these habits
  • Asking for money from friends/family to help provide for yourself due to spending much of your money on alcohol
  • Struggling with work or school attendance and performance due to recovering from a night drinking/hangover/other reasons involving alcohol
  • Withdrawing from social obligations, events and relationships as a result of focusing energies on satisfying cravings
  • Attempting to stop drinking on your own, but finding yourself repeatedly unsuccessful no matter how strongly you wish to break the habit
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you abstain from alcohol for some time
  • Suffering from changes in behavior, mood swings and mental health conditions as a result of substance abuse

If you notice some, or many, of these signs of alcohol use disorder in your life, you may be struggling with significant alcohol use disorder. By taking the time to examine your daily routine, your habits and what motivates you and/or what occupies the space in your mind and the time in your day, it may clue you into the deeper need for guidance in this area.

Seeking help for increased alcohol use?

It can be frightening to examine your habits and routines and notice behaviors that you do not like and feel like you have no control over. But try not to worry too much – numerous people battle alcohol use disorder as alcohol is such a normal, and (truthfully) expected, aspect of life in America. 

But just because it is present in so many areas does not mean you have no control. With the right help, the right coping mechanisms and a strong support system, you can reorient your habits and put healthy living back at the forefront of your daily life. 

If you are looking for someone who can help today, the staff at Real Recovery is ready. To get in touch with one of our counselors, contact Real Recovery by calling 855-363-7325 or by contacting us online to learn more.