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Old 06-10-2013, 12:15 AM   #1 (permalink)
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How do you know if you're an alcoholic?

I always hear from people it's not how much you drink or drinking itself, but what alcohol does to you and relationship, etc. does drinking every night make you an alcoholic if you're not actually doing damage to your life? I've been drinking nightly for about two months now but I always pace myself and only a couple of times have I even been drunk and both times getting drunk as intentional. Other then that I usually begin drinking around 5 and stop when I decide to go to sleep. ( no I'm not passing out from alcohol ). It has no effect on my life situations or relationships because like I said I don't get wasted and do stupid things. Awhile back I thought maybe I had a problem but I think I've come to the conclusion I probably don't considering I'm okay when I drink and I can actually pace myself. I also have no idea if physical dependence is a real concern or not. If I'm only drinking in the evenings and not throughout the day I'm not sure if a real dependence can develop. Honestly I always worry one will or has but I'm almost afraid to just go a few days without drinking because of horror stories I've read about things like DTs. I'm naturally an anxious person who worries too much. I do feel like however if I was physically dependent and decided to stop I could easily cut back, it's not like I lose control and drink more than I planned because several nights I made plans to drink less than usual and stuck to it. Just curious how you know you have a problem.
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Old 06-10-2013, 12:19 AM   #2 (permalink)
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While I don't personally think I'm an alcoholic, I definitely have an alcohol-related problem. I've posted this elsewhere, but I don't have physical withdrawals, and I've never lost a job or had any serious problems related to alcohol. I'm also an anxious person. That's good that you are able to control it, but I have (as recently as six months ago) been able to control it but lately it seems I've lost that ability!

However you want to look at it, drinking multiple drinks every day can progress into a pretty big problem.
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Old 06-10-2013, 12:29 AM   #3 (permalink)
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People will give you different definitions, but for me, I always thought that a person is likely an alcoholic if something like a mental "switch" goes off after the first couple of drinks, to where they are then set into a "spell" of unstoppable binge drinking from there on out. This continues until they pass out or become as "high" as time/money allows. This "spell" completely takes a hold of the person; perhaps negative behavior will arise, but it does not always (in fact, for many "functioning" alcoholics, it often doesn't) - the most central characteristic of this "spell" is just that it renders a person utterly incapable of stopping once started.

So to me, alcoholism is not defined by the negative consequences of drinking -- rather, it's the way of drinking itself; the mental obsession, the inability to stop.
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Old 06-10-2013, 12:51 AM   #4 (permalink)
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It's an awful steep slippery slope..started off weekends for me...then before bed then after 5pm, then after noon, then once in a while a little Beam in my coffee in the mornings. Be careful, if you think you have a problem you already know you do deep down inside where we are honest with ourselves.
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Old 06-10-2013, 01:29 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Only you can decide. Have you tried abstinence? I know you said you are afraid of the withdrawal but if you honestly do not drink that much then why would you consider this an issue?

Nobody, not even a doctor, can tell you whether or not you are going to have withdrawal symptoms until you stop all together.

"In the U.S., less than 50% to 60% of alcoholics will develop any significant withdrawal symptoms upon cessation of alcohol intake, and of these, only 5% of cases of acute ethanol withdrawal progress to DT."

I mean if we all try hard enough we can come up with a multitude of reasons not to try abstinence. If you try and you can't then that may tell you something.

I am an alcoholic. For me it was progressive over the last 26 years. At first it was very fast. I had blackouts after only a year but I had several interruptions in my life that caused me to stop for short periods of time. When I drank I thought I used it to relax or to have a good time. I can't count the times I was under stress and my first thought was "I need a drink"

As the years passed and there was no longer any interruptions I continued to drink more often and more of it. At the end, what would have lasted me a week many years ago would not even last me a day.

I cannot control it. Once I have one drink I want to have another and another until I am drunk.

I have never lost a job, a home, no DUI, no detox or rehab due to my drinking but I am still an alcoholic because I used it to hide from my emotions.

Again, only you can decide if you have a problem with alcohol.
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Old 06-10-2013, 01:44 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Hi b729

Noone here can tell you if you're an alcoholic or not - but if you're drinking so much on a regular basis you're scared of withdrawal, I'd suggest you're drinking too much - wouldn't you?

If you're concerned, see a Dr to make sure you detox safely - then try not drinking for say 3 months (6 would be better)...

if you don't have a problem you should be able to handle that idea without reservation, you should be able to stick with it with no problem, and you shouldn't obsess about drinking while you're not doing it

D
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Old 06-10-2013, 02:52 AM   #7 (permalink)
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b729, here is what AA`s Big Book says about this...very simple really:-)
"If, when you honestly want to, you find you
cannot quit entirely, or if when drinking, you have
little control over the amount you take, you are prob-
ably alcoholic."
Hope you find the answer yourself someday..
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Old 06-10-2013, 06:01 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by b729 View Post
I'm naturally an anxious person who worries too much.
If you read enough posts here on SR, a couple of commonalities start to show up. One of them is anxiety and alcohol. Not a good mix.

You say you can cut back? Try quitting for six months. Shouldn't be a big deal if you don't have an issue with alcohol. Struggle, or if you slip and drink, then you have a right to be concerned.

Nip this in the bud. You think you worry now. Try drinking for 30 years and find you can't quit. That's worrisome.
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Old 06-10-2013, 07:09 AM   #9 (permalink)
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There is alcohol addiction and there is alcohol abuse.
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Old 06-10-2013, 07:25 AM   #10 (permalink)
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There are many questionaires you can answer that can give you a good idea if you are a problem drinker, alcoholic, or don't even have a problem...

Not advocating this site...just first one I found when googled. http://http://www.naturodoc.com/libr...stionnaire.htm

What is interesting with most questionaires, and you can decide if they are medically sound tests, is that you discuss the results with your family and doctor Personally, I tried to minimize and lie about my drinking even when others were concerned...pretty good sign I had an alcohol problem...
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Old 06-10-2013, 07:31 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I was once told that a good way of knowing that you maybe be an alcoholic is when you find yourself wondering what the definition of an alcoholic is.

Try quitting for 30 days. If you manage with no difficulty and with no ill effects, then you're maybe not alcoholic. You do however have a drink problem. Drinking every night is damaging your body and is making you mentally and physically dependant. You may think you are coping and in control now, but you're not.

There is a reason that medical advice is to take a couple of days in a row at least a week off and to not drink more than 3-4 units a day. More than that and you are damaging your body and becoming dependant. It may take a while, but you're certainly at the "problem drinker" stage.

You can either accept that and cut back or quit or you can post about it and try to convince yourself that its not a problem... because you dont want to give up your... addiction.
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Old 06-10-2013, 07:36 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I'm still on the fence on my issue...I still don't know whether I am an alcoholic, a problem drinker or just a drunk. I've kind of decided that it really doesn't matter. What I call myself or some other "addiction specialist" calls me doesn't change the fact that I was putting my daughters to sleep with beer on my breath and buzzed, I would wake up most mornings feeling like absolute crap and anxious until 1 or 2 o'clock. Then 4:30 would roll around and I'd start thinking about beer..I'd remind myself that I promised no drinking tonight...and then rationalize it until I was cracking open that first beer. Rinse and repeat.

I have only been sober for 6 going on 7 days, so I am by no means a pro or vindicated. Looking back a few weeks, I think the answer to me is that if I didn't have a problem, I wouldn't have wasted my time by posting on a recovery website. You need to ask yourself why you are here.

I wish you the best of luck.
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Old 06-10-2013, 08:07 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Before I broke my off switch that buzzed feeling is where I would stop. Now it's my jumping off point. When I was a normal drinker my brain would tell me I had enough. I didn't want to get drunk. I didn't seek out alcohol the way I would now. Going to the bar meant socializing. It wasn't about the booze. People would want to go out at 4 pm after work. Why would I do that I would just get tired and I have things to do? Now I could see myself planning my whole life around it. Back then a few drinks later in the day sounded like a good idea and I really did enjoy a few drinks. It would have been hard to give it up, but then again I had zero consequences.
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Old 06-10-2013, 08:10 AM   #14 (permalink)
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I'm still on the fence on my issue...I still don't know whether I am an alcoholic, a problem drinker or just a drunk. I've kind of decided that it really doesn't matter. What I call myself or some other "addiction specialist" calls me doesn't change the fact that I was putting my daughters to sleep with beer on my breath and buzzed, I would wake up most mornings feeling like absolute crap and anxious until 1 or 2 o'clock. Then 4:30 would roll around and I'd start thinking about beer..I'd remind myself that I promised no drinking tonight...and then rationalize it until I was cracking open that first beer. Rinse and repeat.

I have only been sober for 6 going on 7 days, so I am by no means a pro or vindicated. Looking back a few weeks, I think the answer to me is that if I didn't have a problem, I wouldn't have wasted my time by posting on a recovery website. You need to ask yourself why you are here.

I wish you the best of luck.
I think I MAY have stopped short of that line. If so then it should just be a little easier.
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Old 06-10-2013, 09:05 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Silentrun: I hope you have. I don't think I made the point that I was highly functioning. I run my own law practice...I have great kids and a wonderful wife that loves me very much. I have a very nice house and nice cars. I wasn't drinking to oblivion or even close. I never drank during the day...I don't think I fit the clinical or popular version of the alcoholic. However, it was taking its toll on me. I'm very pleased that I quit.
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Old 06-10-2013, 10:18 AM   #16 (permalink)
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b729- I can appreciate the confusion. I wondered too if I really had a problem- still wonder sometimes. I've heard of studies that say that drinking more than 1 or 2 drinks a day seems to cause long-term damage to one's health, so you there might be consequences that you do not yet know about. For me- it was useful to look at what I was giving up to drink. What would you like to be doing with your time, if you were not drinking? Why did you start drinking every night? What do you like about drinking? What do you not like about it? In terms of withdrawal- talk to a doctor if you have been drinking a lot or if you start having withdrawal symptoms. But don't keep drinking and increasing your dependence, for fear of withdrawals. It seems like everyone is different and some people stop without withdrawal symptoms.

Crossfitdad- Thanks for your last post. That helped me so much to read.
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Old 06-10-2013, 02:38 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Hi B

Remember that anything above 21-28 units per week for a man is likely to be causing slow damage to the liver. This damage doesn't usually show up until the majority of liver function is lost. That often takes 20 years or so (the majority of deaths due to alcohol-induced liver damage are people in their 50s and 60s, by which time the damage can be very hard to reverse). Alcohol is like smoking - it is often years before the serious damage is revealed. So please be a little careful about thinking you are OK if you are drinking more than 21-28 units per week; you are almost certainly accumulating slow damage to the liver above those levels. Daily drinking is rarely good for relationships either, and they tend to be damaged much faster than your liver.
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Old 06-10-2013, 08:03 PM   #18 (permalink)
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People will give you different definitions, but for me, I always thought that a person is likely an alcoholic if something like a mental "switch" goes off after the first couple of drinks, to where they are then set into a "spell" of unstoppable binge drinking from there on out. This continues until they pass out or become as "high" as time/money allows. This "spell" completely takes a hold of the person; perhaps negative behavior will arise, but it does not always (in fact, for many "functioning" alcoholics, it often doesn't) - the most central characteristic of this "spell" is just that it renders a person utterly incapable of stopping once started.

So to me, alcoholism is not defined by the negative consequences of drinking -- rather, it's the way of drinking itself; the mental obsession, the inability to stop.
I think this summary pretty much nails it. It isn't the whole problem, but it is the defining characteristic. If you want to know if you are alcoholic, put away the 50-question screening test and just see how you feel after 2 drinks. It isn't rocket science, really.

I don't know if medical science yet fully understands the root cause of the powerful craving for more alcohol that is triggered by the initial intake in alcohol dependent people (aka alcoholics). I believe there is active neuro-biological research on the subject that may shed some light. I tend to think that physiological factors have not received enough attention historically. I know from my own experience that the "spell" that kicks in feels almost like an involuntary reaction; I can't help but continue. By contrast, the craving that occurs after one abstains for a period of time is a somewhat different beast -- because it is possible to overcome it.
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Old 06-10-2013, 09:22 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Just curious how you know you have a problem.
I don't see it as an "either/or" thing, where at some specific point you go from a normal drinker to an alcoholic. For me it was a lot more insidious.... it took about 15 years to get to the point where I was drinking several beers most nights and started thinking "I really need to cut back." That's when the internal battle started..... I wanted to drink, but at the same time, I knew it wasn't a good thing.

That's what addiction is for me: knowing better but doing it anyway. Social drinkers don't have that internal battle. They even do crazy things, like turn down a drink or leave half-full glasses of wine on the table. I think that's why it's so hard for someone like us to ever drink normally -we'll just never get that mindset back.....

Hope you find an answer to your question(s)... it's definitely worth a little soul-searching.....
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Old 06-10-2013, 11:14 PM   #20 (permalink)
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If you ask, "How do you know if you're an alcoholic?" then there is a good chance that you are an alcoholic.

I don't believe the advice that says, "If you can stop drinking for X number of days (30 seems to be a popular number) then you are probably not an alcoholic. MILLIONS of alcoholics have done this.

Try this. Have one drink EVERY day for 30 days. Only one. Do not skip a day. Come back here in 30 days and tell us if you did it. If you can't drink only one drink EVERY day AND not skip a day then you are probably an alcoholic.
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