Alcohol dependence is a common condition. Alcohol habits and the risk of developing a dependence can be influenced by a variety of things. For example, your current situation, how you feel and your genes. It is not possible to say how long you have to drink alcohol, or how much, to develop a dependence.
You may be dependent on alcohol if you:
- feel a strong craving for alcohol
- drink more alcohol and for longer than you intended
- have been unable to cut down on your drinking
- give drinking a central role in your life, often at the expense of something else you think is important
- have to drink more alcohol than before to get drunk
- feel unwell when you do not have alcohol and have withdrawal symptoms, for example shaking, nausea or difficulty sleeping.
If you recognise three or more of these symptoms, you are deemed by health care standards to be dependent on alcohol.
Alcohol dependence can also cause considerable harm to your body and other medical conditions, which can lead to additional symptoms.
Questions you can ask yourself
If you are worried about your drinking, ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I in control of the amount I drink?
- Is alcohol an important factor in my life?
- Do people around me think that I drink too much?
A lot of people with alcohol dependence know that they are drinking too much.
You first have to decide that you want to stop drinking. Once you have decided to tackle your alcohol dependence, you must change your drinking habits. There are a variety of treatments for alcohol dependence that are of benefit and effective.
What can I do?
It is also possible to overcome dependence without any special treatment. A lot of people change their habits themselves, perhaps with support from those close to them. Some things that may help:
- Start with a completely sober period. It can be easier to change your habits after completing such a period.
- Set yourself an objective. Decide in advance how much you can drink on each occasion or per week.
- Write down what and when you drink to get a better overview of the situation and feel more in control. This makes your progress clearer.
- Think about the situations and the people who may cause you to drink too much.
- Think about what alternatives there are to drinking alcohol on those occasions when you might be tempted. Have a plan and be prepared. Can you choose another drink? Find other solutions?
- Get help from those closest to you. Tell people that you want to drink less, or not at all, and would appreciate their help in this.
Different things work differently for different people.
If you want help to change your alcohol habits, you can contact:
- a health centre (vårdcentral)
- a dependency clinic (beroendemottagning)
- social services (socialtjänsten)
- non-profit organisations (ideella organisationer)
- occupational health services (företagshälsovård) if you are in employment.
You can get help at any health centre or clinic you want anywhere in Sweden.
All clinics have a duty of confidentiality, but if you want to be completely anonymous you can contact the alcohol advice service alkohollinjen.se (swedish).