Am I an alcoholic? Vs. Safe Limits of Drinking

Am I an alcoholic? This is the secret question that folks like me have asked themselves or googled the question and taken an online quiz repeatedly. Personally, I don’t like the term alcoholic because it is misunderstood, and to understand my view in more detail on this, I delve deeper in my post ‘Am I an alcoholic? Maybe, but don’t let society label you’. But for now, if you are asking yourself: Am I an alcoholic? Then, deep down of course, you probably know that you have some sort of issue with your drinking, or drink is causing problems in your life, or why the hell would you look! Put another, perhaps less subtle way, if you are questioning yourself about your alcohol intake then chances are that you have overstepped a line somewhere. But is that line just outside the safe limits of drinking?

Alcoholism used to be defined as ‘alcohol abuse’ or ‘alcohol dependence’ so you either fell into an unknown safe category pre-abuse, you abused, or you depended. Easy? Not really!

To understand this and give it a little bit of perspective, first let’s talk about the limits in the UK and what it means. I think it is similar in the U.S. but don’t quote me on that?

Taken from the good folk at Drink Aware: To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level, the UK Chief Medical Officers’ (CMO) low risk drinking guidelines advise it is safest not to drink over 14 units a week regularly and if you do, it’s best to spread your drinking evenly over three or more days. I am guessing I have lost you already and you could be somewhere in between…

The definition used by the Office of National Statistics for binge drinking is having over 8 units in a single session for men and over 6 units for women. Now look at the following illustration:

What does this mean to the everyday person? In a nutshell, this means half of the population (certainly my generation) are pickling themselves to death and as a society we probably have a binge drinking epidemic on our hands?

To give some more relatable detail on this, fourteen units is about six Pints of 4% lager which, by my old standard is naff all. In fact, if you were to go into one of your old / regular haunts on a Friday or Saturday evening, I would bet my left nut that most of the people in there are not aware of the above safe limits. Some probably don’t give a toss. I know I never used to. In yet more context, think about what you regularly consume at home, write it down if necessary, for a week, and then consider it.

You are well within your rights to feel a little perplexed because lets face it, as I mentioned above, most people (just my guess) drink more than the suggested guidelines and safe limit, and if you don’t class yourself as dependant but you abuse alcohol now and again, then where does this leave you?

At this point I would refer to my Booze Category Scale published in ‘Finding Your Sober Bubble’ where you can pitch yourself into one of the following categories, and for reference, it is a slippery slope:

Without going into detail here, it is clear to see that it gets worse as you go down so you may now understand why I suggest there is a problem drinker in us all somewhere!

When and if you do stop drinking and see through all the bullshit, you realise how engrained in society it is and that there is definitely more to it than being an alcoholic, abusing alcohol or drinking safely and lets face it, when we are at home, very few of us actually use proper measures when pouring the wine, well I never used to anyway. Truth is, it just isn’t good for our health, yet, the government get such a shitload of tax from sales that it often seems to be swept under the carpet!

The majority of our society clearly sits somewhere in between alcoholism and safe drinking and therefore it is very difficult to suggest a cut off point but I will finish on this:

If every time you drink you end up platting your legs, have regular blackouts (cant remember) or arguments with your spouse then you are most certainly not taking alcohol within the suggested safe limits of drinking.

All the best… Darren

Resources: Take a look at the Drink Aware Self-Assessment Tool to further consider your drinking habits

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