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Identifying that you have a drinking problem isn’t always simple, especially in Australia where drinking a lot is considered normal. There are some common signs and symptoms that you can look out for, and a few things you can ask yourself to find out if you should be getting help.

This can help if:

  • you drink a lot and you’re worried about it
  • you’re having to drink more than usual to get drunk
  • other people have said they’re worried about your drinking.
Aerial view of girl holding plastic cup of beer

Signs of alcohol abuse

Binge drinking is a pretty common activity in Australia, so you might not always notice when a regular couple of drinks has turned into too many, too often.

The fact that you’re thinking about whether you have a problem is a good start, and there are some signs of alcohol dependence that you can look out for.

Mental and social signs include:

  • worrying about when you’ll be able to have your next drink
  • drinking alcohol, or wanting to drink alcohol, when you wake up in the morning
  • consuming alcohol regularly on your own, or trying to hide your alcohol consumption from those around you
  • worsening relationships with friends or family
  • always staying out late and encouraging friends to keep drinking when they’ve said they want to go home.

Physical signs include:

  • sweating when you don’t drink alcohol
  • feeling nauseous when you don’t drink alcohol
  • being unable to get to sleep without drinking alcohol
  • needing to drink more and more alcohol to get drunk.

Ask yourself a few questions

People who work in the field of alcohol addiction often ask people these questions:

  • Do you drink because you have problems or to relax?
  • Do you drink when you get mad at other people, including your friends or parents?
  • Do you prefer to drink alone, rather than with other people?
  • Is your work or education suffering as a result of your drinking?
  • Have you ever tried to stop drinking, or to drink less, and found that you can’t?
  • Do you drink in the morning, before school or work?
  • Do you gulp your drinks?
  • Do you ever have loss of memory due to your drinking?
  • Do you lie about how much or how often you drink?
  • Do you ever get into trouble when you’re drinking?
  • Do you get drunk when you drink, even when you don't mean to?
  • Do other people comment on your drinking and think it’s a problem?

If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, it’s important that you talk to someone about your drinking. Facing up to the fact that you might have a problem takes courage. Deciding to get some help is a really brave move, but it can be one of the best things you’ll ever do.

Where can I get help?

The easiest and quickest way to get help is to talk to someone about it, whether it’s a friend, family member, doctor or counsellor. The sooner you talk about what you’re going through, the sooner things will start to feel a bit better.

If talking to someone isn't your thing, there is other support and help out there. It can be hard to know where to find the right support you need. ReachOut NextStep is an anonymous online tool that recommends relevant support options based on what you want help with.

What can I do now?