September 28, 2021 Alcohol

Don’t Ask “Why Am I an Alcoholic?” Ask This Instead

People consume alcohol for a multitude of reasons. Some people turn to this beverage when they’re looking to kick back, relax and unwind.

Alcohol is sometimes seen as a way to take the edge off of a stressful day. Others consume alcohol exclusively in social situations, where it’s used as a means of celebration or connection.

However, some people find themselves drinking alone to stave off feelings of loneliness. Alcohol consumption that goes from once-in-a-while to everyday use is often linked to associated symptoms of depression or anxiety.

The reasons people have for consuming alcohol are not just different from one person to the next; they are also very complex.

For some, alcohol consumption is nothing more than a passing phase related to a specific season in life. This period might be during college or a time before responsibilities begin to pile up.

For others, alcohol consumption goes further and becomes an integral part of life. It’s no longer a question of “Why do I binge drink?” but rather “Am I becoming an alcoholic?”

When is alcohol a problem?

Early signs of an alcohol problem are easy to mistake for other conditions. Knowing whether you have an alcohol problem can be difficult when drinking is masked as a temporary coping mechanism in a hard moment.

The Difficulty of Honestly Asking Yourself “Do I Have an Alcohol Problem?”

The path leading to the recognition of an alcohol problem is rarely an easy one.

It can be tricky to step back and take a look at drinking habits objectively. It can also be painful to ask yourself, honestly, “Do I have an alcohol problem?”

The next question is inevitable: “Am I an alcoholic?” This type of self-inquiry is particularly distressing for many people.

Accepting that you’re an alcoholic is more than just coming to terms with a situation. In many ways, it’s about assuming a new identity entirely.

Getting Lost in the Why

Feelings of guilt, shame, and dismay are common when someone first recognizes that alcohol has become a powerful and detrimental force in their life. It becomes easy at this point to focus obsessively on the question “Why am I an alcoholic?”

Unfortunately, getting lost in the “why” of it all can significantly delay seeking treatment to improve the situation. Far too often, people meditate on the potential origins of the issue to the point of overlooking what can be done to remedy the addiction.

This focus and treatment neglect isn’t always surprising because alcoholism is often diagnosed alongside other mental health conditions. Some of these conditions include anxiety, depression, and even obsessive-compulsive disorder.

In many cases, alcohol is initially used to temper the symptoms of these conditions. It becomes a full-fledged addiction that only enhances the underlying symptoms and perpetuates the problem with time.

Ultimately, there’s nothing wrong with wondering why you’ve become an alcoholic. Introspection is an important part of overcoming any hurdle.

However, the “why” behind alcoholism is better served as an integral part of a comprehensive treatment plan led by professionals.

If it becomes an obsessive and exclusively internal question, more important questions about the addiction are easily overlooked.

What Happens if I Do Nothing?

Alcoholism doesn’t just happen overnight. Alcohol addiction is often a gradual process that can make it harder to pinpoint initially. Given enough time to take hold, alcoholism becomes impossible to ignore.

There’s a tipping point between casual drinking and alcoholism that drinkers can reach behind closed doors.

What starts as drinks with buddies after work can morph into something far more problematic. It can quickly turn into drinks with friends followed by excessive drinking at home each night alone.

For a while, this behavior can remain hidden. However, given enough time, alcoholism always finds a way to affect other parts of life detrimentally and make itself known. It’s simply the way of the disease.

Excessive alcohol use can lead to a decline in judgment, slower response times, and drastic personality changes.

At a certain point, this disease can cause a person to overlook all other responsibilities in life in the pursuit of obtaining alcohol. This pursuit is often prioritized at all costs.

The results of alcoholism can be devastating for employment, relationships, health, and safety. An alcoholic will often disregard work responsibilities and replace healthy relationships with those that support their addiction instead.

Risks are commonly overlooked, leading to an increased chance of accidents, injury, or even death.

When it gets to this point, questioning why you’re drinking too much isn’t nearly as important as asking what will happen if nothing changes.

Intervention is essential to take time away from drinking and focus on recovery.

Throughout the recovery process, individuals can put more emphasis on what is motivating their drinking habits.

In the meantime, if you step back and realize you don’t care about what happens anymore, it’s a good sign that it’s time to seek treatment.

What Is My Support System Saying About My Behavior?

Not everyone can look inward and easily pinpoint the origin of their behavior. Most people need an external support system of family and friends that are willing to provide loving and honest insight when things aren’t going well in life.

Taking time to ask what your support system says about your drinking is far more important than constantly asking yourself if or why you’ve become an alcoholic.

Internal dialogue is often heavily guided by emotions and thought processes that are inevitably compromised by substance abuse if you are an alcoholic.

This compromise makes it that much more important to be open to insight from those you trust.

Family and friends have different perspectives on the situation. They might even be directly affected by your behavior in ways you can’t currently comprehend.

Taking the initiative to ask friends and family what they see in your drinking habits and why they believe it’s happening won’t be easy. However, it is a step in a healthy direction.

Gathering this information from many trusted friends and family members gives you something solid beyond your own ideas on the matter.

Writing down responses can give you a clear picture of what everyone is seeing and saying. This process makes it easier to see patterns and trends throughout those responses.

It’s easy to get defensive when loved ones are indicating issues with your drinking habits. There’s a temptation to justify everything negative that’s brought forward.

However, justification doesn’t lead to answers or progress. Listening to what they have to say and taking it in as genuine is a far more effective strategy when deciding which steps to take next.

You don’t have to agree, but it’s worth your while to consider the fact that many people are saying the same thing—and often, it points to a clear answer.

When I Drink, Does My Behavior Align With My Core Values?

Having a set of core values in place is a good metric many people use for living a meaningful and purposeful life. The goals we set out to achieve and the activities we participate in are often a direct reflection of values we hold close.

That’s what makes questioning these values concerning your alcohol habits so vital. Does your behavior align with those values you’ve set out to define yourself?

With alcoholism, the answer is almost always a resounding no. If you can understand that you don’t like your behavior when you drink, but you don’t care to change it despite your core values, it’s clear there’s a problem at hand.

The power of alcoholism as a disease can often be most clearly seen through this lens.

A line has been crossed when drinking becomes a priority over core values like kindness, honesty, and integrity. When alcohol becomes a priority over other people in your life, the stakes are even higher.

Before you ask yourself why you’ve become an alcoholic, you have to take time to question your core values. Does what you’re doing match this list? If not, it’s time to take action and find the support you need to get the help and treatment you deserve.

The help you need to access when you're struggling with addiction isn't out of reach.