The ideas behind alcohol dependence in the mind of most of people look like one of two things, alcoholics or not. Or in other words, alcoholics and everyone else. But the truth of the situation is that it isn’t a dichotomy. The idea that yes you have it, or no you don’t leaves out a multitude of people who have problems with alcohol.
Problems with alcohol can range from mild to severe. And there are all kinds of drinkers along those lines as well as all their different personality types.
Different Types of Drinkers
There are many different types of drinkers. Let’s touch on a few.
First, there are drinkers with severe drinking problems, such as those who keep on drinking even though they have lost their job or gotten a DUI. This type of drinker can benefit greatly from treatment and not drinking completely. But, they are not necessarily alcoholics.
Then there are other drinkers, mild ones, including some of who are in the habit of having one or two drinks a day, who can cut back or moderate their consumption if they want to. Alcohol does not impact these type of drinkers in a negative way, other than the long-term health effects of moderate drinking on the body and mind.
Then there are alcoholics. Alcoholics are fueled by a compulsion. And have a disease. They, for the most part, will be incapable of stopping and staying stopped on their own in any capacity.
Not everyone who drinks, even a lot, is alcoholic.
Dependence Is The Key Word
A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the majority of Americans who drink more than one or two drinks a day are not alcoholics. They don’t report symptoms of dependence so they may not be alcoholics.
Women who consume eight or more drinks per week are considered excessive drinkers, according to the CDC. Breast cancer, liver disease and heart disease have all been linked to excessive drinking over time. But these drinkers aren’t necessarily alcoholics either.
Do you see where we are going with this? So how does someone who isn’t alcoholic but needs help cutting back going to get help?
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has a whole list of tips aimed at cutting down — everything from drinking tracker cards that you can keep in your wallet to help you track your drinking when you go out, to strategies for handling urges.
For people concerned that their drinking may be moving towards dependence, a screening tool called the Drinker’s Checkup can evaluate and give feedback. There are also support groups such as Moderation Management, which aims to help drinkers who are trying to cut back.
And these all work for those who fall in between the mild drinkers category and the alcoholic category. Drinkers who haven’t quite reached the alcoholic tipping point if you will. For this type of drinker, drinking is a habit not a compulsion—which makes these kinds of therapies or treatments work for them. But how do you know if you are alcoholic or just have a drinking problem?
Well, that’s the tricky part. Moderation doesn’t work for everyone. There may be someone who is alcoholic who thinks they can use a moderation management program and they will be unsuccessful.
There’s no way to know which heavy drinkers can learn to control their drinking rather than having to give it up completely.
There are some people who are against the moderation programs all together as well. And it’s critics look directly at the found of moderation management who after leaving the organization, struggled with drinking, caused a fatal drunk driving accident and then committed suicide.
Really what it comes down to is figuring out what is working for you. If you can’t seem to moderate your drinking, chances are you need an abstinence-based program. You need to stop drinking completely.
One size does NOT fit all when it comes to treating drinking problems. We offer various levels of care for those who want to control their drinking habits – Contact our specialists today for a free drinking assessment. Call 855-441-2449.