How to know if you have a drinking problem

I’m a recovering alcoholic who’s been sober for over 5 years. For a while, I wasn’t sure if I had a drinking problem, but put the bottle down once I knew for sure. You might be wondering if you have a problem.

By Ed Latimore Last modified

I’m a recovering alcoholic who’s been sober for over 5 years.

For a while, I wasn’t sure if I had a drinking problem, but I put the bottle down once I knew for sure.

You might be wondering if you have a drinking problem.

Above all things, there is one sure sign that you have a drinking problem. With that said, I have to tell you…

Most people do not have a drinking problem

In fact, I don’t even think most alcoholics have a drinking problem.

If you’re fine with your place in life, drink until your liver falls out.

If you drink because you lack ambition, you don’t have a drinking problem. There’s nothing wrong with drinking hard if you want nothing more out of life.

For most of my 20’s, I had the wrong priorities. Instead of trying to build myself up to be a man of respect, I took the easy way of trying to be liked instead. That meant spending a lot of time getting drunk with people I can’t even remember today.

When I lived for “Thirsty Thursdays”, I didn’t have a drinking a problem.

I was irresponsible, but I wasn’t an addict or an alcoholic. Maybe I had dreams of being more or better, but I wasn’t putting in the work. As long as I kept getting invited to parties and happy hours,

I figured I was fine just the way I was.

This was fine until I was 27 and I realized that I was forced to work customer service for $9.28/hr, I couldn’t afford a place to live, and I couldn’t stand the face I saw when I looked in the mirror; especially after a night of heavy drinking, which was quickly becoming most nights.

This made me want to change. This made me want to be more. Alcohol was officially getting in the way. This is how I knew for certain that I had an alcohol problem. 

(Read: “On Self-Control”)

A major drinking problem

A typical photo from my drinking days. I remember this way, so I know I had to work tomorrow.

How do you know if you have a drinking problem?

If you’re trying to improve any aspect of your life but alcohol inhibits you, then you have a drinking problem.

If you’re trying to gain something but your drinking is keeping you from getting it, then you have a drinking problem.

If you want to be different or better but your alcohol consumption keeps holding you back, then you have a serious drinking problem.

It doesn’t matter if you only go out once a week or if you get smashed every night.

If you have an earnest desire to advance but your drinking is holding you back, then you have a drinking problem and you need to stop drinking.

Your Drinking Problem Will Stop You From Bettering Your Life

But if you want to get down to 10 percent body fat — and you’re eating all the right foods and working twice as hard as you need to in the gym — but you go out drinking every night, then your drinking is a problem.

In fact, it is THE problem.

If you’re doing all the right things in your relationships – romantic, platonic, business, familial, etc. – to make them strong and lasting, but the majority of your problems happen when you drink — you have a drinking problem.

I used to brag that 95% of all my problems were either caused or exacerbated by alcohol. Since I wasn’t interested in doing more with my life, I was fine with getting drunk and ruining my life.

There are people with a shitty personality when both sober and drunk. These people are assholes, but they don’t have problems. If you’re cool when you’re sober but you’ve lost friendships while intoxicated, you have a drinking problem.

If you put effort into a portion of life but alcohol undoes or impedes that progress, then you have a drinking problem.

You should take a break, even if it’s only temporary. Maybe only drink soft drinks or tea. You may even need to go on a permanent break, but something must change.

(Read: “How To Have Fun And Socialize Sober”)

Juice instead of wine these days!

Is your alcohol problem actually an ambition problem?

If you drink all night because you work all day at a job you hate, you’re dissatisfied with life.

If you aren’t trying to improve your situation, I can’t say for sure if you have a drinking problem. It’s more likely that you have an ambition problem.

If you’re 25 years old with 5 kids and you use the money to buy booze instead of feed your family, you’re a irresponsible and terrible human. While it’s likely that you may have an alcohol problem, you definitely have a discipline and self-control problem. 

If you don’t have any goals, you can’t have a drinking problem.

If your goal is to just pay rent, watch Netflix, and eat, you don’t have a drinking problem. You have an ambition problem.

If you want more from life, a hangover is a waste of time.

Fail because you didn’t work hard enough — not because you got a DUI. Lose friends because you’re an asshole — not a sloppy drunk. Have control over your life — even over the mistakes.

I wrote a book about my transition from an alcoholic degenerate with nothing going for himself to the person I am today. People warned me that my social circle might change, but I wasn’t prepared for the emotional transformation and mental maturation that would also take place. 

I wrote this book as if I could go back to 2013, when I decided to get sober, and talk to myself before, during, and after the process. It’s the advice I wish I had when everyone around me still drank and couldn’t understand what I was dealing with. I did it the hard way so you don’t have to. 

Get it here

And next, read this: How to Have Fun and Socialize Sober