Is Drinking Alone A Sign Of Alcoholism?

Robert Gerchalk

Robert is our health care professional reviewer of this website. He worked for many years in mental health and substance abuse facilities in Florida, as well as in home health (medical and psychiatric), and took care of people with medical and addictions problems at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He has a nursing and business/technology degrees from The Johns Hopkins University.

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Could Drinking Alone Be a Sign of Alcoholism?

There is a lot of stigma revolving around alcoholism, and many people do not understand this prevalent disease. While drinking alone at home may not be wrong, for some, it can speed the development of alcoholism. 

It is essential to explore the reasons why people may drink alone. Drinking alone is usually not a problem, but it can be a sign of developing issues. If you are concerned about your drinking habits, explore the motives behind them. 

Why Do People Drink Alone?

Social drinking is widely accepted and often encouraged in today’s society. Even if someone has too much, people rarely grow concerned as long as they are among friends. When people start drinking alone at home, red flags are raised, and friends and loved ones become alarmed. It is especially concerning when someone drinks alone and tries to hide it from others.

At Alcohol Awareness, we have found that these are common reasons why people might drink solo:

  • Remain in better control of their drinking
  • Avoid social situations and pressure
  • Enjoy being alone
  • Like the taste
  • Want to relax
  • Cope with stressful situations
  • Deal with withdrawal symptoms

Drinking alone is not necessarily problematic, but taking precautions and examining yourself is important. Solitary drinking can sometimes lead to physical and emotional problems and social stigma. 

Signs That Drinking Alone Is a Problem

Drinking alone can evolve into an alcohol use disorder (AUD). We have seen that signs like these may indicate problems with solo drinking at home:

  • You are drinking alone more than socially
  • The amount you drink is gradually increasing
  • You cannot seem to stop drinking alone
  • Negative consequences result from your solo drinking
  • Solitary drinking has become an emotional crutch
  • You need more alcohol to get the same effect you once did
  • You are ditching responsibilities to drink
  • Your behaviors are changing

Solitary drinking can transition into problematic behaviors. There are some steps you can take to survey your behaviors and actions to determine if they are making you vulnerable to developing AUD. Self-reflection is critical for your physical and mental health. 

How Can You Stop Solo Drinking Habits?

If you are becoming concerned about your solo drinking habits, it is important to understand why. Could it be that you are developing an alcohol use disorder? Explore the actions below.

Self-Reflection

Identify the reasons you want to drink alone. Are there triggers? Record your solo drinking sessions so you can determine a pattern. Reflecting on these triggers and patterns can help you make better decisions regarding your drinking habits.

Healthier Activities

If you are drinking at home alone to cope with stress, consider alternatives. There are healthier ways to manage stress, like exercise, games, hobbies, and reading. Find a hobby that will be enjoyable and stress-reducing.

Friends and Family

Find someone you trust, preferably a friend or family member, and talk to them about your goal of reducing your time spent drinking at home alone. Accountability can be very beneficial for helping solo drinkers limit their intake. The accountability partner must be someone you trust implicitly. 

Establish Limits

Escalation is one of the biggest concerns regarding drinking at home. Many people find they need increasingly more alcohol to satisfy their appetite. It is wise to set limitations and stick with them to de-escalate the practice. You are more likely to achieve this resolution if you establish limits from the beginning.

Address Your Underlying Issues

Although most people drink to relax, some develop drinking disorders that can negatively impact their lives and those they love. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that 6.2% of Americans over 18 have a problem with alcohol, and about 20% of people between the ages of 12 to 20 use alcohol. 

Alcoholism has become a serious problem in the United States, especially among young and middle-aged adults. Many people who turn to drinking have underlying issues that need addressing. If you attempt to stop drinking alone without ever addressing the underlying issues, staying sober will be more challenging.

Are you swallowing your feelings by downing alcohol at home alone? Alcohol intake and mental health issues often go hand in hand. People use alcohol to cope with depression, anxiety, stress, and conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

Alcohol is a depressant and sometimes makes mental health conditions worsen. Although alcohol consumption may relax you and make you feel better at first, you will usually end up feeling worse once you become sober. This rebound effect is why many people develop AUD. 

Alcohol reacts to the neurotransmitters in the brain and can cause increased feelings of aggression, anger, depression, and anxiety, even in those who do not usually suffer from these conditions. 

Counseling is an excellent way to address your underlying mental health concerns without turning to the bottle. Life is sometimes difficult to cope with, and counseling can help you identify your solo drinking triggers and find relief from the underlying mental health constraints holding you back. 

Should You Seek Professional Help?

Some people find their drinking habits negatively impact their lives, and they cannot stop alone. If you are one of these people, seeking professional help may be your best option. 

If your solo drinking is escalating and becoming a problem, seek help. There are many options for treatment, including inpatient and outpatient care. At the very least, consider a support group where you can talk with others who have similar alcohol issues. 

Consider the following reasons you may need to seek professional help for your solo drinking that has become problematic. 

Loss of Control

If you experience a loss of control, it is important to take action right away. Drinking until you black out or being unable to control your habit is abnormal and needs professional attention. You may have become dependent on alcohol and will need professional guidance to help you withdraw safely. 

Significant Withdrawal Symptoms

What happens if you stop drinking for a day? A week? How long have you gone without a drink before those feelings of withdrawal begin? If you experience withdrawal symptoms — physical or psychological — every time you stop, you may have a physiological dependence on alcohol and need professional intervention. 

Failed Past Attempts

How many times have you tried to stop drinking at home alone but found you cannot? Maybe you threw out all the alcohol but, in a moment of weakness, ended up buying more. If you have tried to quit alone but were unsuccessful, seeking professional help is wise. 

Life Interference

Is your solo drinking interfering with your life? Are you avoiding your daily responsibilities or losing interest in relationships or personal interests? Don’t wait until things progress to get help. 

Health Issues

Has your drinking habit caused health concerns due to excessive consumption? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that excessive drinking can lead to:

  • High blood pressure
  • Certain cancers
  • Liver disease
  • Digestive concerns
  • Weakened immune system
  • Heart disease

Seeking medical guidance is wise when you begin experiencing health issues. If you continue to indulge after learning of health issues, they could worsen. You need to take precautions and get help when your drinking is affecting your body. 

How to Get Treatment for Alcoholism

Many people do not like to label themselves as being an alcoholic, but if you cannot stop or drink excessively, you may have a problem. Taking action before significant issues occur with your health, job, and relationships is vital. Today, there are many more choices for getting help with alcohol addiction. 

Medically Supervised Detox

Detoxing from alcohol can impact your physical and mental health. For some people, the withdrawal process is the most challenging part of getting treatment. You cannot be free to make tough decisions about your life until your mind is clear. 

Medically supervised detox gives you medical guidance and medications to help you avoid serious health issues from detoxification. These medications make it easier to get the alcohol out of your system without severe complications.

Individual and Group Therapy

Therapy is an essential part of any alcoholism treatment program. You can take advantage of individual and group sessions. Many people find group sessions especially helpful because they can talk to peers facing the same issues. 

Medication-Assisted-Treatment (MAT)

Your primary care clinician can provide you with non-addictive medications that help you stop drinking and avoid a relapse in the future. These medications make it much easier for people to go through alcoholism treatment and maintain their sobriety once they are out of the program.

Understanding the Four Levels of Care

You will have four levels of care options when seeking alcoholism treatment. The level you desire will depend on your personal needs, level of addiction, and insurance.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment is helpful for those who want to remain at home and continue working. This treatment involves multiple visits to medical offices, counseling, and medication support. 

Intensive Outpatient Treatment

Medically supervised programs provide safe medical guidance as individuals go through the detoxification process and begin their journeys toward sobriety. 

Residential Treatment

Residential treatment can be high- or low-intensity, depending on the program and the individual’s needs. You will stay at the rehab center 24 hours a day. Most residential programs last at least 30 days. 

Intensive Inpatient Treatment

These programs are medically supervised to protect individuals as they go through the detoxification process and begin their journey toward sobriety. 

Get the Professional Help You Need

Drinking alone is not necessarily dangerous, but it can become worrisome, especially if you are hiding your drinking or drinking to excess. No matter how or when you indulge in alcohol, you can become dependent. 

Physiological dependence often requires professional intervention. Help is available. Call our free 24/7 Alcohol Abuse Hotline for support and advice, or look us up on our Alcohol Awareness site. We can help you explore your options and find the proper treatment approach for your needs.

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