How To Know When to Seek Treatment for Alcoholism

When to Seek Treatment for Alcoholism - Freedom From Addiction

If you are asking yourself if you suffer from addiction, then it is likely you could benefit from some treatment. This does not necessarily mean you need intensive or inpatient treatment. People drink for many different reasons. Sometimes their use escalates, and sometimes it does not. If you have tried to stop or cut down on your own and have been unable to do so, then a therapist might be able to help on an outpatient basis.

Many signs and feelings suggest that treatment is the next best step for those struggling with alcohol abuse, beyond the inability to refrain from using substances. It is important to examine your behavior and how it impacts you and those around you.

There are different levels of use and a variety of treatment options. There is also a difference between drinking regularly and having a diagnosable alcohol use disorder. Some signs you need treatment include if your drinking or drug use is causing problems with meeting your responsibilities or if your objectives are being neglected, if you have developed tolerance, or might experience withdrawal if you stopped. Stopping can result in withdrawal symptoms some of which can be life-threatening. With an increased amount of alcohol over a prolonged period, supervised medical detoxification might be necessary.

If your drinking is causing significant impairment, clinically or functionally (i.e. health problems, disability, and failure to meet primary responsibilities at work, school, or home), that might be evidence of a substance use disorder and will most like require some form of treatment. According to the DSM-5, a diagnosis of alcohol use disorder is based on evidence of impaired control, social impairment, risky use, and pharmacological criteria. So an actual diagnosis is not based on how many drinks someone how and how often.

Here are some questions to ask yourself if you are wondering if you have a drinking problem.

  1. Have you ever tried to cut down on or stop drinking and been unable to?
  2. Do you find yourself thinking about alcohol a lot?
  3. Do you ever drink to escape or numb certain emotions?
  4. Has your drinking led to problems with the legal system, work, school, or relationships?
  5. Have any of your friends or family members expressed concern about your drinking?
  6. Are you hiding or lying about your drinking?
  7. Do you think you might have a problem?
  8. Are you experiencing mood swings, isolating, or withdrawing from family or friends?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, it would be a good idea to seek out a therapist with experience in substance abuse to help determine if treatment or what level or treatment would be best for you.


Dr. Rachel Needle has specialized training in the area of substance use disorders. She is a professional consultant to substance abuse facilities and assists them in expanding and enhancing clinical programming. Dr. Needle also does expert training on the topic of substance abuse, mental illness, and sexual health for staff members at residential and outpatient facilities that specialize in alcohol and substance use disorders. 

| Facebook: Dr. Rachel Twitter: @DrRachelNeedle

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