Happy hour with friends, margaritas and nachos by the pool, brewery hopping  – how do you know when your drinking habit has gone too far?

“If your drinking is negatively impacting you or the people in your life, then it may be too much,” says J. Craig Allen, MD, medical director of Rushford, part of the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network.

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Signs that your drinking habit may be turning into a problem

Dr. Allen offers these signs that you may be developing an alcohol use disorder:

  • Forgetting things that happened while you are drinking.
  • Having a first drink in the morning to get yourself going after heavy drinking the night before.
  • Hearing important people in your life, or a healthcare professional, express concern about your drinking or suggest you cut down.
  • Failing to do what is normally expected of you at work, home or socially because of the effects of drinking (intoxication or hangovers).
  • Needing to drink more and more alcohol to get the same effects. This is called developing tolerance.
  • Experiencing physical symptoms if you go too long without drinking. Withdrawal symptoms can include rapid heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, restlessness, tremors and sweating.

Stopping on your own

If you’re concerned that you might have a problem with drinking, Dr. Allen suggests:

  • Tracking how many drinks you have in one week. Make a plan to decrease that amount gradually over time.
  • Setting limits on the number, places and times that you drink.
  • Avoiding people or places that tempt you to drink or drink more than you should.
  • Making plans that don’t involve drinking.
  • Not keeping alcohol in your home.

If these steps don’t seem to help, Rushford, part of Hartford HealthCare’s Behavioral Health Network, has a variety of treatment options that range from medication-assisted outpatient treatment to detox or residential rehabilitation.