If you ask the experts, something has been changing about the way people in the United States and Canada drink. People — especially young professionals — are drinking more now than people their age did 10, 20, or 30 years ago. In fact, about 40 percent of Americans drink too much, experts say — and when you consider that 33 percent of Americans don’t drink at all, that leaves rather few alcohol drinkers who can honestly say that they have a healthy relationship with the nation’s most popular drug.
If you drink, perhaps you should evaluate how you do so. And if you discover that your drinking is a problem, then you should seek help. Here’s how to think about the role that alcohol plays in your life.
Alcohol and moderation
Alcohol is not good for human beings. While the occasional study has suggested that moderate drinking can have health benefits, most of these studies either draw very limited results (such as the conclusion that red wine is good for us in moderation, but other alcohols are not) or are highly questionable (many studies that find alcohol healthy are funded by companies that make and sell alcohol).
The bulk of scholarship is firmly of one opinion: Alcohol is bad for us. Drinking can have long-term consequences for our health even if you don’t often drink to excess; and if you do often drink to excess, then you are putting your life at risk. Chronic alcohol use destroys lives and cuts them short; binge drinking can kill drinkers immediately.
Is your drinking a problem?
As unhealthy as it is, alcohol is sometimes hard to consider fairly. After all, it’s everywhere: It’s the go-to thing for everything from first dates to business dinners. Some of the people around us drink in moderation, which — though not necessarily a good thing — is not exceedingly dangerous. But many (studies suggest most) of your fellow drinkers have a problematic relationship with alcohol. How can you know if you’re one of them?
The warning signs are pretty straightforward. The gold standard for telling the difference between casual drinking and a drinking problem is whether or not drinking is affecting your daily life. But think carefully, because denial is a notorious symptom of problem drinking (and of addiction in general). If you’re hungover at work, that’s alcohol affecting your life; if you’re having trouble budgeting for everything you drink, or if your drinking annoys your significant other, then that, too, is a problem. You should also consider taking online quizzes and questionnaires to see whether your drinking habits are dangerous.
What to do if you have a drinking problem
Let’s say that you do decide that your drinking is more than just casual stuff. What should you do?
You should take action and invest in your future. Problem drinking is dangerous, but it’s not something that’s your fault; alcohol dependence is a disease. You wouldn’t try to cure cancer on your own, so don’t ignore the reality of your situation. Seek professional help from experts who specialize in addiction and alcohol recovery.
There’s nothing unusual about having a problem with drinking, explain the experts who run a trusted alcohol rehab in Toronto, Canada. Virtually every available study and statistic proves that problem drinking is extremely common. So don’t let biases and stigma hold you back from the care that you need; this isn’t something that you should “just get over” or try to fix yourself.
Working with experts who understand mental health and addiction can change your life. If you need help with your drinking problem, take action.