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10 signs you might have a drink problem

Posted on Monday, 11 December 2017, in Addiction

10 signs you have a drinking problem

Christmas and New Year is a time when we are faced with more opportunities to consume alcohol than during the rest of the year. Work parties, family get togethers and a general sense of ‘enjoying’ oneself, can lead to many of us consuming more alcohol than we are used to.

For some, this is a once a year affair. Once the decorations are packed away for another year, we stop cracking open the mulled wine at any opportunity. However, there is not getting away from the fact that alcohol is very addictive and so, for some, this time of year can be the start of a possible addiction.

But how do you know if you are at risk of being dependent on alcohol or it becoming a problem in your life? The following 10 signs are a good indicator that you may be developing an alcohol problem.


Alcohol Consumption

  1. You try to cut down on your drinking – “I’ll only have one’ only to end up consuming much more than you wanted to.
  2. It’s causing problems with friends or family but you still continue to drink
  3. You have been involved in risky situations or accidents whilst drunk, but continue to drink
  4. You find yourself thinking about alcohol a lot more and wondering when you can next have a drink
  5. You drink secretly or hide how much you are drinking from your friends and family
  6. You regularly have black outs or memory loss
  7. You choose alcohol over other activities you used to enjoy
  8. You make excuses for your drinking – for instance it destresses you, you deserve it, it’s Christmas
  9. You plan to have a booze free night, but then quickly start drinking
  10. You think about stopping, but can’t


For anyone who has had a drink problem and is now sober, this time of year can be particularly challenging. Finding the right balance of alcohol consumption for you is key to staying in control of what is a highly addictive substance.


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Why is alcohol addictive?

Alcohol in itself isn’t addictive, but the chemical reactions is causes in your brain are. Alcohol increases the amount of one of your neurotransmitters, ‘GABA’ which inhibits the way the brain works. This is why drunk people often stagger or slur their words. Our brain grows tolerant to increased levels of GABA, meaning we can drink more without the same effects.

Dopamine, the brain’s feel good chemical is released when we consume alcohol, ‘rewarding’ the brain and making us feel good. Endorphins are also released when we consume alcohol, further making us feel good. So, as we drink more, we can tolerate it more (the GABA effect) and the more alcohol we drink the more dopamine / endorphins are released, but as we grow more tolerant of these chemicals, we need to drink more to get the same buzz… and so it continues.

With increased level of alcohol consumption, the brain produces less dopamine and becomes ‘resistant’ to its effect. There can be really unpleasant side effects when we stop drinking, the shakes, sickness, anxiety and fever amongst other. And how can you get rid of them.. by having another drink. So it’s not the alcohol itself that is addictive, it’s the impact it has on your brain.

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Alcohol Addiction

Emilie Head

Emilie Head Business Development and Content Editor BA(Hons), ACMA, MBACP

Emilie has three main roles at Clinical Partners – managing our NHS Partnerships, developing the services our Clinicians offer and writing and editing web content.

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