Stopping after two drinks feels pointless or challenging
Stopping after two drinks may feel kind of like going to Disney World and not riding any of the rides for you: What’s the point? Not only that, but the idea of having one more, whether you’re fighting it or giving in, can be indicative of something more. In general, “normal” drinkers don’t compulsively think about alcohol. “Initially it may be to feel more comfortable to have a drink or two in social settings, but eventually one or two drinks seems pointless and more is required to get a buzz or to simply just feel comfortable in certain environments,” says Dr. Mogali. “If it feels like you can’t be present or even functional unless you have a drink in your system and your hand at all times, that’s a sign of alcoholism.” Another sign, she adds, is spending a lot of time and energy on drinking, and then a lot of time and energy recovering after drinking.
Family members and friends have expressed concern
Typically, an adult may ‘overdo it’ if they’re having a bad day or celebrating a once in a lifetime occasion, and they may say something they shouldn’t have or get sick the next day. But if they’re constantly behaving in a way that makes their friends and families worry enough to say something—and more than once—chances are it’s not all in good fun. “The people closest to us and who care about us are usually the first to express concern when someone is starting to develop a dangerous drinking pattern, because they notice it first,” says Dr. Mogali. “If those around you that know you the best are telling you something’s off about your drinking, you’re probably not merely engaging in ‘social drinking.'”
You drink more than you plan to
You set out to enjoy a glass of wine while reading a book on your couch and suddenly you realize that you drank a whole bottle, or you promise yourself it’ll just be two to three drinks max with the girls “this time” and somehow find yourself losing track. “When someone realizes they have drank more than they planned to and figure why stop now, that’s usually a sign of alcoholism,” says Alyson Cohen, LCSW, a psychotherapist based in New York City. “Especially if they keep going.” You may also have a problem if you find yourself not thinking about what you drink at all.