“Do I drink too much?” This is a question I have heard many people often ask.

At the end of the day, this is also a question you can only answer yourself. It’s a bit like those jeans you ask your partner if you look good in. They reply, “You look great love!” Well, unless you truly also think this, no matter what they say, you are still going to believe what you want to.

So how do I know if I am drinking too much?

Like the jeans, this is a question only you can answer and there are often elements which will stand in your way. Denial is a common barrier you need to overcome, to be able to honestly answer questions about your alcohol intake, or any other drug or behaviour you might be partaking in which has become detrimental to yourself and others.

So, I suppose the next questions is, “If I don’t even know that I am lying, how do I know there is something wrong?” I once heard a man who had been in recovery for some years respond to this question in the following way: “To know if you have a problem with alcohol is easy. The mere reason that you ask yourself the question, is a dead give away that there is something not entirely right. Have you ever asked yourself, do I breathe too much? Well, probably not, because your breathing probably does you no harm. Why would you consider stopping something, if it was not bad for you?”

The long and short of it is that if you are drinking too much, somewhere deep inside of you, you will know something is not right. It will begin to take its toll on your life in many ways. The lies and secrets are what get most people. The lies to yourself, “today I am not going to have a drink. Tonight I am not going to get drunk, I will only have a few”. Have you made such a promise to yourself or something similar, only to break it time and time again? Maybe you tell lies to others about how much you have drunk, or whether you have drunk or not. Maybe they are not verbal lies. Maybe you lie in your behaviour, hiding evidence of your drinking or isolating yourself to be able to have a quiet drink.

An unhealthy relationship with alcohol is also time-consuming. How much of your day do you spend feeling physically and emotionally bad about having drunk the day before? But later you convince yourself that you deserve or need a drink. Before you know it this becomes a never-ending cycle. The daily guilt about the drinking, followed by the drinking to alleviate the guilt, followed by the daily guilt about the drinking… a never-ending self-defeating prophecy. Other responsibilities and commitments fall by the wayside.

Some patients refer to a feeling of being lost and disconnected from themselves. “I don’t know who I am anymore, I don’t know what I want?” More often patients will share, that they truly feel alone in the world and that there is no one who can understand or help them.

A sad and lonely existence, that will only worsen over time. For like any other disease, the disease of alcoholism if not treated and arrested, will deteriorate its host over time. With the final prognosis being prison, institutionalisation or death.