Signs you might have a drinking problem

Identifying that you have a drinking problem isn’t always simple, but there are some common signs and symptoms that you can look out for. Ask yourself the questions below to find out if you should be getting help.

Signs of alcohol abuse

Sometimes it can be hard to 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. 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, when you wake up in the morning

  • consuming alcohol regularly on your own, or trying to hide your drinking 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.

Questions to ask yourself

Here are some questions that people who work in the field of alcohol addiction often ask:

  • Do you drink because you have problems or to relax?

  • 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 ever have loss of memory due to your drinking?

  • Do you lie about how much or how often you drink?

  • 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.

Remember that if you do have an alcohol problem, the first step in overcoming it is to acknowledge it. You'll find plenty of support services that can help you here, and you can filter by type of service and location.

What can I do now?