You can spend hours online researching differing views on what defines an alcoholic. This fact alone shows just how muddy the water is. Alcohol affects each of us differently – some people can develop a problem whilst drinking comparably low volumes of booze, whilst others may drink 2 or 3 times that volume and never have a reason to feel concerned. Body mass and gender also play a role, as does mental well being, social standing, and genetics. I think I even read somewhere that people with blue eyes are more pre-disposed to alcoholism!
Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, has a test that helps cut through all of this noise. He argues, quite simply, that an alcoholic cannot have one drink and then stop – whereas someone who has a ‘normal’ relationship with alcohol can comfortably say “I’ve had enough” and just leave it at that. In other words – alcoholics can’t moderate. Us drunkards have no off switch.
So, the test is simple: Have one drink every night for a whole week. Just one standard measure – a glass of wine, a single beer, a single Jack and coke, a G&T, whatever tickles your balls. And then STOP. If you can do this then the chances are you’re not an alcoholic. If you can’t, then take it as a warning sign that maybe you do have a problem. It doesn’t mean you need to check straight in to The Priory for 3 months though – the fact that you’re reading this blog in the first place suggests you’re already either worried, or trying to tackle a known issue.
If you are having issues, and a bit of support wouldn’t go amiss, then feel free to drop us a message. No one is better placed to offer support than someone who has been there. In fact – and this is 100% true – when I lived up in Huddersfield I made a doctors appointment to ask for help with stopping drinking. I knew I’d made the wrong decision within 2 minutes of sitting down with her:
- The first thing she said is “have you thought about cutting down?”. I felt like karate chopping her in the tits.
- she turned to her computer, typed ‘drink aware’ in to Google, and then DOUBLE CLICKED on the blue Google link. This upset me more than it should – but she’s a doctor for God’s sake. Click once. Once dammit.
- She brought up an online calculator that CLEARLY said to enter your DAILY alcohol intake. She turned and asked me for my WEEKLY intake, typed it in, and promptly told me that I’m clinically dying, if not dead.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t visit a doctor – especially if you’re having serious issues such as shakes and hallucinations – I’m just saying that if you’re starting to wonder about support, and need to talk to someone, then an ex-alco is a good start. AA never worked for me, but it definitely helped me to answer a few questions and find the path that did ultimately work.
Be cool to each other.