Enjoying a solo celebratory drink or popping open a bottle of wine before relaxing on the couch isn’t anything to be ashamed of. For many of us, being alone allows us the chance to reset and recharge for another day of work, school, or home obligations. The simple pleasures of drinking are usually harmless and can easily become an innocent part of a weekly routine. Still, many ask the question: does drinking alone make me an alcoholic? The short answer is, not always. Solitary drinking does not automatically qualify someone as an alcoholic or diagnose a person with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). The larger issue is qualifying the frequency of drinking alone and the amount consumed when drinking by yourself.
While drinking alone isn’t necessarily a sign of alcohol addiction, it can morph into alcohol dependency or addiction. Excessive and overindulgent alcohol use is a characteristic of far too many people. According to a 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 86.3% of people ages 18 or older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime. Additionally, according to the same study, 14.4 million adults ages 18 and older had AUD.
If you find that you’re often drinking alone, this may be a sign of deeper psychological or emotional issues.
Many Americans drink alcohol for social reasons. However, many also drink alcohol in order to cope with unwanted feelings or emotions such as sadness, depression, frustration, abandonment, trauma, etc. Self-medication through alcohol use is not healthy behavior and can further perpetuate the underlying issue or problem.
Drinking Habits and Behaviors
Often referred to as alcohol use disorder, or simply AUD, this pattern of excessive alcohol use includes issues with controlling drinking, preoccupation with alcohol, and changes in behavior resulting from alcohol use. Alcohol is one of the leading substance addictions in the United States, surpassing opiates, cocaine, and other prescription medications. It is one of the hardest addictions to overcome and can lead to a multitude of health issues ranging from irregular heartbeat to cancer and liver cirrhosis.
According to healthline.com there are several indicators of alcohol addiction. Some of these include:
- Drinking more and/or drinking more often
- Building a higher tolerance for alcohol
- Drinking inappropriately (for example: with breakfast, on the way to church, at work)
- Desiring to be where alcohol is served and/or avoiding places where it is not served
- Changing social circle and/or activities to accommodate heavier drinking
- Avoiding former friends and/or family
- Hiding alcohol, and/or hiding while drinking
- Depending on alcohol to function
- Increasing fatigue, depression, poor self-concept
- Getting into legal, work, financial, or family problems
Does drinking alone make me an alcoholic? From the items listed above, it’s important to note that drinking independently may not be the only indicator of a larger problem. Instead, behavioral issues that occur when heavily drinking coincide with attempting to hide the behavior from loved ones or simply attempting to avoid others for the specific purpose of drinking heavily.
Concerns and Impacts of Alcoholism
Alcohol addiction can occur quickly because alcohol is easily available and often socially acceptable. Like any addiction, alcohol abuse can take a toll on your family, your career, and your physical, mental, and emotional health.
The Mayo Clinic has noted that alcohol plays a significant factor in two lethal conditions: heart disease and liver disease. Also, alcoholism can cause such problems as:
- type 2 diabetes
- sexual dysfunction
- fetal alcohol syndrome, birth defects
- vision problems
- higher risk of some cancers
- suppressed immune function
Alcohol affects the alcoholic and those around him at home, at work, and in the community. It takes a toll on everyone.
The National Council of Alcohol and Drug Addiction shared these disturbing statistics: Three in four cases of domestic abuse involve intoxication. Three in four crimes are committed by those under the influence of alcohol.
According to the Center for Disease Control, the economic cost of alcohol addiction in America is almost 224 billion dollars annually. Seventy-five percent of the cost occurs in lost productivity in the workplace. Over 10% of the cost is in healthcare.
Drinking Behaviors: Does Drinking Alone Make Me an Alcoholic?
While drinking alone doesn’t necessarily constitute alcohol use disorder, there are several behavioral factors that are related that can raise concerns regarding alcohol use as a whole. In general, steady and increasing use of alcohol affects brain function and motor skills. Drinking behaviors are unintentional changes in the way someone behaves because alcohol has altered cognitive behavior and can cause severe loss of motor skills.
Typical drinking behaviors may include one or more of the following:
- Bullying, verbal, emotional and/or physical abuse
- Illogical, mean, hurtful comments, and/or actions
- Blackouts, memory loss, forgetfulness, confusion
- Impaired driving
- Dangerous sex acts
- Decreased productivity
- Unsafe behavior at home and/or at work
- Committing a crime under the influence of alcohol
- Talk, thoughts, actions deemed to be suicidal
Alcohol abuse also impacts users’ behavior, which can result in accidents and violence. The effects of alcohol addiction are grave and far-reaching. Slurred speech, motor impairment, confusion and memory problems are just a few common consequences of alcohol consumption in the short-term. This can make drinkers more prone to accidents, injuries, and violent behavior. Alcohol is a factor in more than half of fatal burn injuries, drownings, and homicides. It’s also a significant factor in moderate to severe injuries, suicides, and sexual assaults. Alcohol plays a part in 40% of fatal motor vehicle crashes.
How Do I Know it’s Time to Seek Help?
Any addiction tends to get worse over time. That’s why it is crucial to be aware of early warning signs of alcoholism. Ask yourself these questions posed by the Addiction Center:
- Do you spend a lot of time wondering if your drinking has become a problem?
- Are you experiencing behaviors like blacking out, hangovers, forgetting important commitments?
- Do you often feel physically ill after drinking?
- Have you had alcohol-related problems like DUI, losing your wallet, getting into arguments, disorientation?
- Have you tried unsuccessfully to quit drinking?
- Do you miss the relationships and/or activities you engaged in before drinking took over your social and domestic life?
- Are you less productive at work? Has this been pointed out?
- Are you worried that your job or your marriage might be in jeopardy?
- Do you experience preoccupation with getting a drink?
- Have your finances suffered because of your drinking?
If you’re not sure whether you should ask for professional help, take this quiz.
How Can AspenRidge Help?
If you or a loved one has an alcohol problem, congratulations on seeking professional help. Alcohol addiction is very difficult to conquer on your own.
But, there is good news. If alcohol abuse is identified and treated early, the major consequences of this addiction can be avoided. Alcoholism is a disease that can be cured.
Alcohol addiction affects one in five residents of Colorado. It costs the state five billion dollars a year in loss of workplace productivity and healthcare costs.
We at AspenRidge are well prepared to help you deal with the many aspects of alcohol addiction. Our rehab and treatment facility is recognized as providing the most effective care in Colorado.
AspenRidge Recovery: Alcohol Addiction Treatment
The impacts of alcohol affect everyone differently, which is why we take a tailored approach for our clients. For immediate assistance, contact our 24/7 helpline at 855-281-5588 for more information.
At the heart of most addictions, there are usually underlying mental health concerns that either exacerbates AUD or they result in people attempting to self-medicate with the use of alcohol. Utilizing supportive services and a treatment center that offers programs for co-occurring alcohol and mental health disorders can help individuals and families overcome the impacts of alcohol and assist individuals in achieving long-term sobriety.
Our trained, experienced, board-certified counselors offer one of the best alcohol addiction treatments in the state. Colorado alcohol addiction treatment programs through AspenRidge are carefully arranged and utilize evidence-based data for effective treatment modalities.
Through our treatment options and programs, individuals are able to successfully garner support and find the tools needed to lead a sober lifestyle. In fact, 89% of our self-reported alumni who completed our programs were not using or had decreased substance use 6 months to 2 years after graduation.
Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment in Colorado
Our counselors and therapists provide therapeutic options such as trauma therapy and neurofeedback therapy, furthering recovery.
Aside from our two locations, we offer our innovative online AspenRidge Virtual Care intensive outpatient program. We are Colorado’s first 100% online Intensive Outpatient Treatment provider and can help you attain sobriety from the comfort of your home. We also have in-person treatment options in Lakewood (near Denver) and Fort Collins.
At AspenRidge Recovery, we understand the importance of getting support for alcohol use disorder. Our compassionate, experienced staff is ready to help you heal. Contact us today at (855) 281-5588 to get recovery started today.
Our intensive in-patient treatment option provides a five-day-a-week daytime intensive in-patient residential hospital therapy. Patients in this program spend their evenings at home with family. Trained alcohol addiction therapists teach patients coping skills that will assist them to make better choices than alcohol in dealing with stress at home and in the workplace. Therapists use various evidence-based techniques in individual and small-group settings.
If being in residential care during the day is not an option, consider our day intensive outpatient program (5-Day IOP). This option lets patients meet with counselors and support groups in evening sessions. Patients are, thus, able to maintain work and family responsibilities during the day.
Run by counselors adept at virtual therapy sessions, AspenRidge offers a twelve-week online program. Patients meet with counselors and others in the program via Internet sessions three times each a week online. If you live a distance from our AspenRidge locations, this is an ideal treatment format.
When patients have completed our outpatient, inpatient, or online program our evening outpatient option provides a way to bridge the transition between treatment and work and family. This six-to-twelve-week session provides group and individual counseling.
The focus of this option is the alumni of our alcohol addiction treatment. During small group sessions, social gatherings, and special activities graduates get an opportunity to connect with others who are facing the same challenges. The program is facilitated by experienced, empathetic counselors who conduct sessions once a week or twice a month.