Recognizing an Unhealthy Relationship with Alcohol

By Suzanne Snyder, L.C.S.W., ACCESS Director of Behavioral Health
April 20, 2016

girl with unhealthy relationship with alcohol

Realizing that you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol can be difficult.  We get mixed messages about drinking.  You've heard the dangers of drinking and driving, binge drinking and alcohol poisoning. You may have also heard about the benefits of moderate drinking. How do you know if you or someone you care about has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol? Here are some warning signs that can help you determine if you are consuming alcohol at an unhealthy level. By knowing the warning signs, you can seek the help you need or encourage your loved ones to recognize the signs and seek help.

Signs that you may have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol include:

  • If you drink more than 4 drinks on any day or 14 per week (men)
  • If you drink more than 3 drinks on any day or 7 per week (women)
  • If you drink and drive under the influence
  • If you are not able to meet work, school or family responsibilities due to drinking
  • If you can't remember what you did after a bout of drinking
  • If you have done something while drinking that you feel bad or embarrassed about
  • If you find yourself drinking more than you planned, or can't stop once you start
  • If a loved one or medical provider has told you they are concerned about your drinking
  • If you have drinking-related medical conditions
  • If you need a drink to get you going in the morning
  • If you feel a strong need or compulsion to drink
  • If you drink alone or hide your drinking
  • If you experience physical withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, or shaking when you do not have alcohol. Withdrawal is a serious medical condition.  Please seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing this symptom

​Times when you should avoid alcohol use:

In certain situations, the risks of alcohol use may outweigh any possible benefits. For example, when:

  • You're under age
  • You're pregnant or trying to become pregnant
  • You've been diagnosed with alcoholism or alcohol abuse, or you have a strong family history of alcoholism
  • You have liver or pancreatic disease
  • You have heart failure or you've been told you have a weak heart
  • You take prescription or over-the-counter medications that can adversely interact with alcohol
  • You've had a hemorrhagic stroke

ACCESS' medical and behavioral health care teams are here to help with any concerns or questions you have related to unhealthy alcohol use or abuse.  We work together with our patients to screen for problems, educate, and provide intervention and treatment as needed. If you believe you or someone you care about needs help, take the first step and contact ACCESS to schedule an appointment today.  Together we will help you determine your next steps to a more healthy life.  Click here to schedule an appointment at one of our 36 conveniently located community health centers in the Chicagoland area.