Do Americans need to drink less alcohol? Alcoholism is a terrible disease affecting millions of people — in America alone. (1)

16.3 million above the age of 18, to be exact.

And that’s just the number of people who have received a diagnosis of alcoholism.

In reality, the number of people whose lives are affected firsthand by alcohol use is much greater. There are plenty of high-functioning alcoholics out there who may not even realize the effect alcohol is having on their physical health, mental state, and social life. (2)

Also Read: 8 Warning Signs of a High-Functioning Alcoholic

Here’s the tough question:

Are you one of them?

Heavy drinking is defined as more than 14 drinks a week for men and only 7 for women. That’s not all that much alcohol when you really think about it. So it may be hard to realize you need to drink less alcohol.

But studies have shown that 1 in 4 people who drink that amount has an alcohol problem or are likely to develop one in the near future. (3)

If you drink that much (or more) and notice any of the following signs in yourself, you may want to think about reducing your dependence on alcohol.

5 Signs You Need To Drink Less Alcohol

1. You’ve ever thought “I need to cut back.”

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This counts even if you shrugged off your apprehension afterwards.

Alcoholics tend to become quite good at finding an excuse to drink again, even after a long day of regret and literal headache. It doesn’t help if people around you share that same lifestyle and make you feel like there’s nothing wrong with it. (4)

Next time you wind up thinking about cutting back, write a letter to yourself explaining your thoughts in that present moment. It can serve to solidify your decision to cut back.

2. Drinking is your first impulse when looking to de-stress.

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Yes, alcohol can temporarily lift your spirits.

But overall, it works as a depressant. If you’ve ever drunk heavily, you’re probably quite familiar with the overwhelming low that sets in and can lasts for days. (5)

When you find yourself reaching for that bottle instead of looking for other coping strategies that won’t leave you feeling tired, drained or depressed afterwards, it could be a sign that you’re unhealthily dependent on alcohol as a coping mechanism.

3. You put off activities that are important to you for the sake of alcohol.

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If alcohol is beginning to take the place of your hobbies and passions, that’s a big warning sign.

Another big sign is if you begin to think you can’t carry out your hobbies and passions without the help of alcohol. (6)

Take some time to refocus and figure out what got you excited about life before alcohol became your main focus.

4. You’re worried about your weight.

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Trying to lose weight in vain?

Well, did you know that cutting back on a few glasses of wine each day can eliminate literally thousands of calories from your diet? (7)

That’s some pretty big weight loss potential, even for those who aren’t particularly concerned about the other points on this list.

You don’t need alcohol to fill your belly, so it’s a great area to cut back on if you’re looking for a few places to shave off the calories.

5. You feel like there’s something missing.

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Your present lifestyle was fun at first. You didn’t mind the nonstop partying or temporary escape that alcohol provided you.

But now, you’re tired. You want to try something new.

If that sounds a bit like your inner dialogue, maybe it’s time to look at drinking differently — or quit altogether.

Maybe you can do it on your own, or maybe you need a hand. There’s no shame either way. Just focus on one goal: drink less alcohol.

You can! Happy journeying.