Use or Abuse About Alcohol Consumption

If you have a friend who admits to drinking every night, how concerned would you be? What if you are that friend? Alcohol consumption is so ingrained in our society that we really don’t think twice about someone having a few glasses of wine each night to unwind. But the truth is that this behavior is unhealthy.

Bartender, Preparing Cocktail, cocktail
Use or Abuse About Alcohol Consumption
[ image: by Magda Ehlers ]

And it is understandably confusing. It can be difficult to know where that line is drawn because, in reality, there isn’t a firm line at all.

Addiction hits everyone in different ways, and it shows up without notice or consent. This is why it's always best to err on the side of caution when considering how much you might be drinking. So, let's take a more in-depth look to determine what use and abuse look like.

Drinking to relieve stress
So many people drink alcohol to relieve symptoms of anxiety, and this is hugely problematic. Actually, it's what experts call self-medicating. Instead of addressing the anxiety, you're putting a band-aid over it with alcohol. And you can bet that your anxiety problems will only worsen if you develop an addiction to alcohol.

Drinking to relieve stress also includes social anxiety, so if you feel like you need alcohol before you can meet new people or socialize, your consumption may be teetering on abuse. Abuse doesn’t mean addiction, but it can certainly lead there if the same patterns continue.

Drinking to feel happier
Many people also self-medicate symptoms of depression with alcohol, and this is definitely considered misuse. When you first start drinking alcohol, there’s a euphoric effect that happens when you take your first sips. But the more you drink, the less likely you are to be happy. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, and if you drink too much or too often, you will also experience a depressed mood.

Drinking to relieve boredom
When we first got lockdown orders in the COVID-19 pandemic, people hit the liquor stores in record numbers, likely because they were looking for ways to relieve impending boredom. 

The spike in alcohol sales may have also had something to do with anxiety, but we’ve already addressed that. Boredom is another problematic reason to drink because boredom is a constant. We are always going to find times when we’re bored, and if drinking is our coping mechanism, it will be easy to spiral down a path of alcoholism.

Drinking in moderation
When you drink in moderation, you’re not drinking to solve a problem or fill a hole. And this is when you’ll successfully be able to have one or two drinks and stop. This is also when you’ll be able to go long periods of time without having alcohol.

The goal is to get to a point where you can have alcohol if you want it without ever actually needing it. And here is where it gets fuzzy for a lot of people.

Many people who are abusing alcohol will tell themselves that they can stop whenever they want. And the only way to test this is to actually stop. If you’re worried that you’re drinking too much, try to take a break, do at home alcohol detox, and see how it goes.

Tell yourself that you’re not going to drink alcohol today. And then, see how easy it is to follow through. The level of difficulty you have will be in direct relation to your level of alcohol dependence. And if you can’t stop or are experiencing physical symptoms, it’s time to look for substance abuse treatment programs in your area.

From the outside, the question of use or abuse may seem obvious, but it’s much more nuanced than you might think. Take a close look at your own alcohol consumption to see where you fall.

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