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How to identify warning signs, and what you should do next

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe staff/file

Pay Attention Clinical psychologist Danielle Barry encourages patients to consider how often they think about alcohol. “Is it the thing you’re looking forward to on your way home from work? If you’re looking forward to a drink more than you’re looking forward to seeing your kids or partner, that’s a warning sign.”

Be Honest “People tend to downplay how much they drink,” says Barry. “Most people will say, ‘Oh, I’m a social drinker.’ For some it can mean drinking on holidays, or it can mean that you stop at the bar and have three drinks each night.”

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Talk Meaningful communication can provide the same amount of relief as a glass of wine. “People think, ‘I did a good job today, and the best way to unwind is to have wine.’ There are other ways to accomplish the same thing,” says Dr. Kevin Hill, an addiction psychiatrist.

Don’t Play Games Before consequences happen, notice what Sacha Scoblic, author of “Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety,” calls signposts. The biggest? “Games,” she says. “You want to cut down and you start bargaining with yourself: ‘I’ll drink every other day; I’ll only drink on weekends.’ People who don’t have problems don’t need to make deals.” Hill notes that many people with drinking problems believe it’s tougher to drink one or two than to stop entirely.

Consult your primary care doctor Many people are afraid to take the step toward rehab due to insurance records. But the first step can be a simple phone call. “Never worry alone,” says Hill. “Call your doctor and talk about it. Just have a conversation. See if they feel like you need to seek treatment.”

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