Man's hand reaches for a glass of alcohol.

After a long week of work, raising a family or any other responsibilities, it can be nice to unwind with friends on the weekend. The trouble starts when a few drinks in the evening turns into regular binge drinking which has significant negative side effects on the mind and body.

Excessive drinking can lead to trouble sleeping, liver problems, decisions leading to dangerous scenarios and even coma or death due to alcohol poisoning. While there is a standard set for how much drinking is considered to be too much, it’s much more difficult to know whether or not your weekend drinking is turning into an addiction.

Over a quarter of all Americans ages 18 and up have reported binge drinking within the last month. There’s no doubt that alcohol abuse is a massive concern, but how do you know when someone is a problem drinker and not just enjoying themselves?

1. They Can’t Stop After Just One Drink

An easier sign to spot than others, the inability to stop drinking after feeling a “buzz” or becoming fully intoxicated is a key sign of problematic drinking. This is also evidence that a tolerance has developed meaning the body needs more alcohol to achieve the same effects than before. A tolerance continues to build until near-constant drinking is required to sustain intoxication, all while wreaking havoc on the body.

2. Alcohol Is Viewed as a Reward

Our brains already have the ability to release rewarding chemicals when we’ve done certain actions such as exercising or playing a game with friends. Today, our reward systems are severely skewed by the digital realm which has led to us seeking out rewards more often. In order to keep weekend drinking from turning into a habit, replace alcohol as a reward with alternatives such as purchasing an item you’ve been looking at or treating yourself to a dinner and a show.

3. There’s a Noticeable Change in Personality When Drinking

Yes, everyone will act slightly differently when under the influence of alcohol but typically it’s nothing more than slowed reactions and poor judgment. The concern comes when an individual’s behavior takes on a drastically different appearance. An example would be someone with social anxiety who drinks in order to feel “normal” around others. This form of self-medication is harmful and quickly turns into a dangerous habit if left unchecked.

4. Relationships Start to Break Down

If weekend drinking started as a social activity but has turned into a solo mission done at home, it’s a strong sign that that person’s relationship with alcohol should be looked into. Guilt over excessive drinking can lead people to hide their intake which compounds as they drink even more to mask these feelings. Avoiding friends and family can put a strain on each relationship and cause an individual to lean more heavily into alcohol abuse.

Another aspect of weekend drinking is the rough morning after. When there’s work to be done the next morning, those with problem drinking habits won’t be concerned and can end up with a horrific hangover. Due to this, work performance can begin to suffer and keeping the job may not be an option if drinking isn’t reduced or eliminated.

5. Alcohol Is All That’s on the Mind

It’s one thing to be excited for the weekend to arrive, but it’s another to focus solely on the drinking aspects of our weekly work respites. Getting away from the office and out of the house is the key to starting off a relaxing day, and alcohol is never a requirement.

The weekend drinking often tends to run over into the work week, putting alcohol in the brain’s spotlight more and more often. Some begin drinking small amounts during the week to achieve a buzz but ultimately increase their intake over time. When these impulses and cravings get to be too much to ignore, it’s a strong indicator that an addiction to alcohol has formed.

No Matter the Case, There’s Always Help

If any of these signs sounds familiar for you or a loved one, know that there are alcohol abuse treatment options available regardless of how severe the situation may be. At America’s Rehab Campus, our compassionate team of addiction recovery specialists knows that alcohol addiction isn’t a choice.

With a treatment facility free of judgment and focusing on personal growth, ARC provides total rehab services that prepares guests for a lifetime of sobriety. Reach out today to get started on your journey to recovery!