What is a drinking problem?
Many people only think of a "skid-row bum" when they think of someone with an alcohol problem. This is the end stage of alcohol problems, when a person has lost his or her family, job and health because of alcohol abuse. The alcohol-dependent person doesn't reach this stage overnight. There may be less obvious changes along the way, beginning with drinking more than intended or more than is safe for the task at hand (like driving a car).
Alcohol is a problem if it causes any life problems. This includes health, work and life at home. An individual may have a problem with alcohol if there is constant obsessing about drinking, repeated attempts and failure to stop on his/her own, or often drinking more than planned. Feeling the need to cut down on alcohol consumption, guilt about drinking, annoyance of criticism from others of drinking behaviors, or the need to have a drink in the morning, are all indicators that there may be a problem with alcohol.
There are a variety of behaviors that may cause concern. An individual is taking risks with alcohol if he/she drinks and drives, operates machinery or mixes alcohol with medicine. Keeping heavy drinking a secret from physicians or pharmacists is a danger as well. Risks also include trying to become pregnant or being pregnant while still drinking. Another safety issue is drinking while caring for small children.
Many people find it hard to admit when alcohol becomes a problem. Often, others see the problem before the individual sees it. Once the individual recognizes the problem with drinking, they should then talk with a professional about those concerns.