It’s Time to Focus on Drinking Problems

Musicians' Assistance Program

Volume CIX, No. 11November, 2009

Cindy Green, LCSW

Do you drink too much? How much is too much? Alcohol, when consumed responsibly, is not a bad thing. Wine can be a fine compliment to a meal; it can be part of a religious celebration or a special accent to a celebration.

The key is moderation.

Alcohol becomes problematic when you can no longer determine how much is too much.

In excess, alcohol can be destructive and potentially dangerous – depending on an individual’s age, health status and the amount of alcohol consumed.

A recent survey found that 30 percent of adults drink at levels that put them at risk for a variety of problems.

An abundance of hazardous and potentially damaging situations accompany regularly drinking to excess.

Anyone questioning their own drinking habits needs to be aware of the risks.

  • Alcohol increases the risk of certain injuries (drowning, burns, and car accidents) by 40 to 60 percent.
  • The health risks include liver disease, depression, heart disease and sleep disorders
  • Daily functioning, social interactions, personal relationships and occupational performance all suffer in people diagnosed with alcoholism.
  • If you are taking medications, even those that can be purchased over-the-counter, you should be aware that there could be harmful interactions between those medicines and alcohol.

The health risks surrounding alcoholism are daunting and well documented. If you are wondering if your own drinking might be a bigger problem than you previously thought, ask yourself the following questions.

  • Have you had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer, than you intended?
  • Have you ever wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t?
  • Have you gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt?
  • Have you had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?
  • Have you continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem? Or after having had a memory blackout?
  • Have you spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over other aftereffects?
  • Have you continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?
  • Have you found that drinking—or being sick from drinking—often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems?
  • Have you given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink?
  • Have you been arrested, been held at a police station, or had other legal problems because of your drinking?
  • Have you found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, restlessness, nausea, sweating, a racing heart, or a seizure? Or sensed things that were not there?

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, you should seriously consider your drinking habits. Confronting alcoholism is an enormous challenge but help is available. You don’t have to do this alone. Take this time of year and consider a new beginning, a fresh opportunity to take care of yourself and your loved ones.

To find out more about your specific situation you can call your doctor or you can contact my office at or (212) 397-4802. We will provide confidential help and point you towards appropriate resources.

In next month’s article, we’ll discuss ways to make changes in your drinking habits.

This article contains info from, which is a site produced by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a part of the National Institutes of Health.