I over endulge when I drink alcohol and feel extremely guilty about it the next day

I'm a female in my mid 20s. Lately I tend to over drink and I've become a very angry drunk.

In the past, I have even cheated on my boyfriend while I was under the influence of alcohol.

But now, even if I don't do anything wrong and don't embarrass myself, I still feel really guilty after a night of drinking. I don't understand why I'm feeling this way. Does this mean I have a problem?

Karen Keys, LMHC, CASAC, NCC
Karen Keys, LMHC, CASAC, NCC
Recovery and Wellness Expertise

Hello, I commend you for your courage in taking a look at the role alcohol has in your life. It sounds like you're concerned about what happens when you drink too much and I suspect you already know the answer to your question about whether you have a problem or not. I imagine you would like to stop feeling guilty and would like to avoid cheating on your boyfriend or other negative consequences and maybe have a fear of being or becoming an "addict" or "alcoholic." You might have a "problem" but that does not necessarily mean that you are an addict. 

I don't have information to know if "addiction" or "dependence" or other words would best describe where you are with drinking, but it sounds like it's begun to have some negatives, so forgive me using words like addict, dependence and so on. I mean it more as a road map than a diagnosis. The feedback I'm writing here is very general and doesn't address physical dependence and many other factors that might apply to your situation.  

One of the ways to think about substance (mis)use is to think of addiction as a disease of avoidance. Let me repeat that: it is a disease of avoidance. Your ultimate task in living a balanced life is to figure out what you're avoiding and develop other ways to manage those feelings, experiences, and so on. And of course, along the way, you may want to look at triggers, situations, biological vulnerability, social pressures, coping skills, relapse prevention planning and so on. Depending on where you are in your drinking, you might very well benefit from expertise and support. 

Remember also that alcohol depresses our central nervous system and disinhibits us. That means that alcohol is often a substance of choice to relax, destress, calm down, etc. Also, it allows feelings, thoughts, and behaviors that we usually inhibit to be expressed. If you were unfaithful and often angry, that's your first signpost. For angry drinkers, it is often true that you don't drink and then get angry, you drink in order to express anger. 

I recommend you find someone you can speak frankly with, who is knowledgeable about addiction. Wishing you the best health and wellness. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Lola Georg
Lola Georg
www.GeorgAssociates.com

The short answer is yes - if you feel 'really guilty after a night of drinking', then you probably have a problem. What you could do is visit this website by the National Institutes of Health: http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/How-much-is-too-much/  There you will find information on how many drinks is too much, and the general answer for women is more than seven drinks in a week. There is also a quiz you can take anonymously that will help you determine if your drinking is a problem. The good news is that you can get help for substance abuse through counseling, self-help programs, or alcoholics anonymous. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

Speaking with a licensed therapist will help you figure out if indeed you have a problem or not.  I would say the first question you should ask yourself is why you are drinking? The second would be why you feel the need to drink in excess? It may be due to a life event or the crowd you are running with.  Either way a therapist will be able to help you through this as you already made the first step in admitting you are having a difficult time. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Couples and Family Therapist, LCSW

Usually when someone asks if they have a problem, they believe they do have a problem!

The first step is to understand your own theory and definition as to what problem you feel you have.  

Some possibilities are feeling unhappy in the relationship to your boyfriend, not having enough discussion between the two of you, not feeling cared about by your boyfriend, not liking your boyfriend.

Did you grow up in a family in which the grownups drank to the point of excess at the times they felt stressed?

Family modeling of how to handle problems may have left you no knowing how to handle stress except to drink to excess.

Ask yourself what it is you feel guilty of doing?

The guilt may point you in a good direction if it is your sense of self-esteem telling you to find better ways of managing your life.

Do you drink alone or together with friends?

Try defining your specific reasons for drinking because this is the first step to know how to handle the situation differently.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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