“I’m not an alcoholic because of how much I drank…I’m an alcoholic because of what alcohol did to me.” This old saying clearly described me and my drinking. I knew plenty of people who drank as much as me and a few who drank more. But, there was something different about my drinking…something more intense.
Let’s be clear. I definitely drank much more than anyone would consider healthy. That is why I entered an alcohol treatment facility a few years ago.
Along the way, I’ve learned that there are several types of drinkers.
Social or Occasional Drinkers
These folks don’t drink very much at all. They may have a sip of champagne on New Years eve or accept a cocktail at a business function. They probably don’t like the taste of alcohol very much and it doesn’t “Do” anything for them. When they consume alcohol they don’t experience a fundamental change in their character.
Social drinkers can take or leave alcohol. If the need were to arise for them to abstain for their lifetime, the could do so easily.
Moderate drinkers are probably the largest group. These people drink more regularly Occasional Drinkers, but not to an unhealthy degree. They may have a beer or cocktail in the appropriate setting. They may have a glass of wine with their evening meal.
These folks are not problem drinkers and, like social drinkers, can go long periods without booze with no problem at all.
Heavy drinkers put away much larger amounts of alcohol than the previous two groups. These drinkers may consume a bit more than is healthy and may have minor health issues such as carrying a bit of excess weight.
While not problem drinkers, these folks sometimes end up with a “habit”.
Whatever label you prefer, alcoholic, problem drinker, addict, etc., this group of drinkers consume too much alcohol for their own good. They may hide their drinking or lie to their families about it. They may isolate themselves and refuse to participate in their life. They may get into trouble at work or with the police. They also may be in denial about their problem.
Unlike other drinkers, these folks get something “special” from alcohol. I don’t know whether they get a better feeling from booze than others or they just like the feeling more. It seems to be something chemical of physiological, but when they drink their whole world changes for the better. This seems to be the source of the addiction.
Who Needs Alcohol Treatment?
The question of who needs alcohol treatment is, ultimately, a personal one. It’s really pretty simple though…If you drink too much, cut back or quit. If you find that you have trouble moderating or stopping altogether, ask for help coming up with an appropriate alcohol treatment plan.
I was clearly in the last category toward the end of my drinking career. More important than the quantity I drank was the fact that alcohol fundamentally changed who I was. I was unable to quit drinking on my own and needed help…in the form of ongoing alcohol treatment.
In a previous post I discussed other indicators for making the decision about alcohol treatment.