IS DRINKING A PROBLEM?
Many people drink alcohol recreationally and never experience problems or serious consequences throughout their lives. Others struggle in their relationship with alcohol to the point where they decide to cut back or stop altogether. When it comes to drinking, sometimes it's hard to know if we've crossed the line or where the line is to begin with. If you've been wondering about your drinking, then it might be helpful to explore your relationship with alcohol to determine whether its becoming--or has become--a problem.
DOESN'T EVERYONE DRINK?
Sometimes we look to the people around us as a reference point to determine whether our drinking is problematic. Of course, the problem with that is if we surround ourselves with people who drink often or heavily, then this might distort our perception and lead us to believe that everything is fine. It's when we look at the data that we start to see a much clearer picture of what's going on.
A nationwide survey by the National Insititute of Health (NIH) revealed that approximately 7 in 10 adults drink at "low-risk levels" or "do not drink at all", whereas only 3 in 10 adults drink "heavy" or at "at-risk" levels that might lead to familiy, health, occupational or legal problems. What this information offers us is that heavier or higher-risk drinking happens a lot less often than you might think. So, how do we determine how risky our drinking patterns are? Great question!
HOW DO WE DETERMINE RISKY DRINKING?
In short, one way to do it is statistically. A cool strategy to determine our risk level with drinking is to evaluate our patterns compared to a national sample like in the National Institutes of Health survey mentioned above. What the NIH questions below will help you to identify is how your drinking compares to other men or women within the United States, your specific risk pattern (e.g., low-risk, high-risk), and percentage of people within those specific risk pattern swho develops diagnosable Alcohol Use Disorders. In order to check your risk level, it's important to understand what a standard drink is and how this is calculated. Take a look at the video to your right to learn more about standard drink calculation. Afterwards, feel free to check your drinking pattern here for feedback about what level of risk you fit into.
If you've discovered that your drinking pattern is one that involves risk and that there's been unwanted consequences occurring more often than you'd like (e.g., blackouts, fights, DUI, regrets), then it might be time for an evaluation by an expert in alcohol use related concerns. Perhaps your goal might be to try to reign in unhealthy drinking patterns or consider taking a brief pause to determine whether you wish to continue drinking. You might even decide to stop drinking because of the challenges that continuing to represents. Whatever the case, therapy is a safe, non-judgmental space to explore your decision moving forward.
AM I DRINKING TOO MUCH?
What's your relationship with alcohol looking like these days?
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