The first step of recovery programs that take place in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings is to admit that you are powerless over alcohol.
To admit that your life has become unmanageable without it and that you can't control your alcohol use on your own or stop when you wish to.
If you're unsure as to whether this is the case for you, it might be worth asking yourself some tough questions.
Dr Brad McKay recently wrote an article which listed questions to which your responses might give you pause for thought.
Have a think about the queries below:
Have you ever been criticised for your drinking habits?
It could be a gentle reminder you're going a bit hard or it could be an earnest attempt to talk to you about your consumption.
If you have registered annoyance at someone criticising you for drinking you might want to think about why.
If you find yourself drinking alone to hide it, even if its a few shots at the bar before you bring the round to the table, you may need to have a think about your habits.
Do you recover from a hangover with more drink?
Hair of the dog is an uncommon cure for a hangover.
If you use it commonly, you might consider why it relaxes you and seems to aid your hangover recovery.
Alcohol relaxes us by causing changes in two types of chemicals in our brain, as professor Anne Lingford-Hughes elaborates:
One of these chemicals, called GABA, acts like a sedative to calm the brain down, while the other, called glutamate, excites the brain and makes it more active.
If you're wondering how a hangover comes about, here's a brief explanation:
Once alcohol is out of the blood stream, GABA function falls, but glutamate – which excites the brain - is still very high. This can lead to anxiety, shakiness and poor sleep. If you have been drinking very heavily, this sudden change can even lead to fits.
Levels of another neurotransmitter in the brain – dopamine – are also affected which can lead to low mood.
If you're not allowing your brain to readjust to life without alcohol, you need to think about the chemical dependencies you're encouraging.
Do you ever feel guilty about drinking?
We've all said it before. "I'm never drinking again."
People rarely follow through with this promise.
However, if your drinking is causing you shame and if your loss of inhibitions is leading to actions that you regret more than you laugh about, you should think about why you keep drinking.
Memory lapses are also a worry - not knowing what you've been up to in a vulnerable state is a cause for concern you should tend to.
Have you ever considered cutting down?
If you've ever said midway through a night out that you've had enough, only to succumb to a few more drinks, it's not a sin.
And if it happens regularly, you might want to think about why you can't seem to stop yourself.
If you're reasoning is "just one more" and it turns into three or four, you need to ask yourself why this is the case.
Whether you've attempted to cut down previously and failed, or you've left yourself questioning your consumption, it might be time to talk to someone about that.
If you want to talk to someone about your drinking habits or would be interested in attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in the UK, you can call their national helpline on 0800 9177 650, or you can email [email protected]