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  • Writer's pictureKen Ribotsky

When does drinking become a problem?

Updated: Jul 5, 2020

How many drinks is too much?

“Audrey” enjoys two glasses of wine with her dinner—every evening. “Susan” only drinks on weekends, but often passes out on the couch. “Tom” always sets out to have one beer at his favorite bar; but after the first drink, he is unable to stop. If these scenarios sound all too familiar, you or someone you love may be overusing alcohol.

Common symptoms that may indicate a person is overusing alcohol include(1):

· The strong need/desire to drink (called a craving)

· Needing to drink more alcohol to get the same effect

· Not being able to stop after the first drink

· Withdrawal symptoms after trying to stop drinking (common signs include anxiety, tiredness, headaches, irritability, mood swings, feeling jumpy or shaky/tremors, nightmares, brain fog, nausea and vomiting, rapid heartbeat)

Another red flag is when a person is using alcohol—or drugs—to attempt to escape from everyday life or to “numb out.” If so, it is important to uncover the reason(s) why someone is overusing alcohol. Often this can be a symptom of depression or anxiety. Because alcohol overuse is often just a symptom of a deeper psychological issue or problem that can be successfully addressed. Many people do not realize that if they are using alcohol frequently it can actually have the opposite effect and not at all help their mood. Alcohol use has been proven to become depressive over time, especially if you are genetically predisposed to depression. Over use of any substance can become a slippery slope. Getting help with this kind of issue, as soon a possible helps set oneself up for the best outcome.


1. National Institutes of Health. Alcohol withdrawal.


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