What’s One more Drink

Has someone been hassling you about your drinking? Or perhaps you’ve wondered if alcohol was starting to affect your job, your health, or your mood. Either way, if you or someone else is concerned, it’s probably worth a closer look.The issue is not simply how much you drink, but how much your drinking affects your life. Some signs of a possible drinking problem include:

You need a drink first thing in the morning to get going–or at the end of the day to cope with stress.

You set limits for yourself (“I’ll only have two drinks at the party”) and repeatedly exceed them.

You miss work or family obligations because of drinking (e.g., Monday morning hangover).

You get into dangerous situations when drinking (e.g., driving under the influence, using other drugs, starting fights, engaging in unsafe sex).

If any of these signs apply to you, take heart: you’ve already taken the first step by honestly examining how alcohol affects you. The next step is to consider whether you would benefit from making any changes, such as reducing your drinking. It may help to list the things that could make it difficult to change (e.g., “I wouldn’t enjoy parties as much without drinking” or “I would really miss beer on a hot summer day”). Then you can try to find ways to address these concerns; even if that proves difficult, it’s still worth reviewing whether the pros of changing outweigh the cons.

Changing a long-standing habit such as drinking may be hard work, but it can be done. Fortunately there are many tools out there to help you, such as support groups and treatment programs.