How Many Drinks a Week Makes Me an Alcoholic?
If alcohol causes or has caused mental,
physical or emotional distress in your life, it has ceased to be a
luxury and has entered the realm of necessity.
The lines between social drinking, alcohol abuse and alcoholism are extremely thin.
Crossing them warrants no special "aha" moment; generally, the drinker doesn't
consciously digest that alcohol has become a problem until he or she is a few miles
past the last line. If the drinker ever felt a slight inclination that
the habit developed into full-force alcoholism, he or she probably
shrugged it off in denial.
So, how do you know if you are an alcoholic? It would be nice if there
was a logical or numerical response to the question - as in, "If I
drink less than five drinks a night, that doesn't make me an
alcoholic," "If I drink only on the weekends that should mean that I'm
not an alcoholic, right?" or "If I am not drinking alone, I am fine."
Unfortunately, none of these questions or statements will lead to a
conclusion as to whether or not you are an alcoholic. The most
important question I ask my clients struggling with accepting their
alcoholism is, "How often are you thinking about drinking?" We then
delve deeper into a series of questions that aim to create a conscious
Do you frequently feel compelled to drink?
Does alcohol, the thought of alcohol or the planning of your next drink occupy most of your energy and focus?
Have you wanted to stop drinking, but find yourself with a drink in hand just a short time later?
Have you sacrificed other activities that you enjoy because you plan to drink or were drinking?
Do you find that you need to consume more alcohol to get the same effects you once had?
These questions kick-start our discussion about alcoholism, and the
common behaviors associated with alcohol dependency. These questions
address the mental, physical and emotional state of one's drinking. The
general rule of thumb when it comes to labeling oneself as an alcoholic
is: If alcohol causes or has caused mental, physical or emotional
distress in your life, alcohol has ceased to be a luxury and has
entered the realm of necessity.
Alcoholism tends to run in families. If one or more of your family
members suffers from alcoholism or addiction, you are at a higher risk
of alcoholism than the rest of the population.
You are also at a higher risk of alcoholism if you suffer from anxiety,
depression or bipolar disorder. These mental disorders often lead to
self-medication with alcohol or other mind-altering substances.
If you are still unconvinced that you are an alcoholic, or you need more tangible data, ask yourself these questions:
Do you often feel guilty about your drinking?
Do you feel the need to lie to others about your drinking?
Have one or more of your loved ones expressed concern about your drinking habits?
Do you frequently drink more than you plan on drinking?
Do you black out when drinking?
Do you feel that you need to drink to relax or feel better?
Do you find that you wake up from a night of drinking with severe
anxiety, shaking or sweating that only a drink or medication can fix?
Do you feel uncomfortable in environments where alcohol is unavailable?
Have you ever tried to control your drinking?
Have you had problems at home, school or work as a result of drinking?
Have you ever thought that your life would be better if you didn't drink?
Do you ever find yourself jealous of people who can drink without consequences?
If you answered "yes" to three questions or fewer, you may be mildly abusing
If you answered "yes" to four to seven questions, you exemplify traits
of an alcoholic; you have entered into the danger zone and should seek
help for alcohol dependence.
If you answered "yes" to eight to 12 questions, you exemplify traits of
a severe alcoholic and should seek treatment for alcoholism.
This test is not medically-approved, nor is it an official test for
determining alcoholism, but it will give you an idea of the type of
questions you need to ask yourself when observing your drinking.
The only person who can determine whether you are an alcoholic, an
alcohol abuser or a social drinker is yourself; no one can answer these
questions for you.
If you take an honest survey of yourself and your drinking habits, you
can determine whether you have reached the point of alcoholism and only
then can you get the help you need. Doing so will teach you how to move
through life without the aid of alcohol, allowing you to reconnect with
your loved ones and to rekindle your desire to live another day.