October 2, 2012
When it comes to alcohol abuse, the lines seem pretty cut and dried. For many, the attitude is either you are an alcoholic or your aren’t an alcoholic. We have an image in mind of those who abuse alcohol, and it is one that drinks to excess and has ruined their personal life, their family and their career. While these things can definitely occur with alcohol abuse and dependence, the disease of alcoholism can be thought of as existing on a continuum. Along that continuum, there are people who may drink heavily but may not yet be dependent on alcohol or classified as alcoholics. If there is a label that can be placed on this group of people, they could be called almost alcoholics.
Almost Alcoholic? Is There Such a Thing?
According to information provided by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCAAD):
Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States- 17.6 million people, or one in every 12 adults, suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence along with several million more who engage in risky, binge drinking patterns that could lead to alcohol problem.
While the statistics are eye-opening, the facts concerning what constitutes alcoholism and alcohol dependence are not clear.
It is estimated that nearly one-third of American adults are “excessive” drinkers, but only 10% of them have alcohol use disorder (or alcoholism). While it may seem reassuring on the surface that a small percentage of excessive drinkers are alcoholic, what about the remaining 90 percent? In that group, there are people who may binge drink and are experiencing health problems related to their alcohol use. Additionally, these people may also be experiencing the consequences from their excessive alcohol use in regards to family strain and problems with work and school.
A Matter of Degree
It is true that drinking to excess may not make one an alcoholic, but their pattern of use does not fall into a “social drinker” category either. With this line of reasoning, there are probably millions of men and women who fall into the almost alcoholic category. For those who fall into that category, they may agree that what they are consuming in a week may be above established guidelines for what is considered alcohol dependent or abuse. Those people, when asked how much they exactly drink in a week, may not even know.
People who may fall into the almost alcoholic category may not realize their is a problem for one simple reason: they don’t see any kind of connection between their own drinking behavior and any physical or emotional consequences. They may be experiencing little or no visible or physical consequences as a result of their drinking, and as a result they may feel they are “safe”. While they not be seeing anything on the surface, there can be subtle consequences health and behavior-wise they can be undergoing they are not aware of. It is this phase of alcohol use that can easily cross over into abuse and alcoholism if not addressed in a timely manner.
Are You An “Almost Alcoholic?”
What does it mean to be an “almost alcoholic?” Are you able to identify in yourself or a loved one the signs that your drinking is crossing into dangerous and risky territory? The following are some indicators that you or a loved one are in almost alcoholic territory.
First of all, if you drink regularly to combat stress you may be crossing almost alcoholic territory. It is common to hit the bar or refrigerator after work to have a drink or two to unwind from the hustle and bustle of the day. However, if those one to two drinks become several drinks in a sitting you may be crossing over from social to more problematic drinking behavior. This is especially true if you rely on drinking as your primary way to dealing with stress.
Another indicator that you may be an “almost alcoholic” is the fact that you drink alone. For those who engage in social drinking, they always do so in the company of friends or colleagues. If you are finding yourself in your own company while drinking, you are crossing over into alcohol dependence. In regards to alcoholism, isolation is a main factor in the development of this disease.
What does it mean to be almost an alcoholic? You may look forward to drinking. Your mind may race in anticipation and excitement to have that glass of wine, bottle of beer or mixed drink. You may be looking at the clock or your watch regularly counting down the hours and minutes until you can hit Happy Hour.
If you are almost an alcoholic, you drink to relieve boredom and feelings of loneliness. This can be especially true if you are widowed, divorced, a single parent or even unemployed. You may find that a drink or two can help alleviate these feelings and give you a sense of comfort and well-being.
If you drive after you have been drinking on a regular basis, you may be considered an almost alcoholic. You may have never been pulled over or cited for driving while intoxicated, but you have definitely driven home from the bar after a few drinks and are feeling the buzz. While you may not have experienced legal consequences, “buzzed” driving can put yourself and others at risk.
You also may cross into “almost alcoholic” territory if your performance at work is suffering. You may not be as “on top” of things at work as you used to be and you could be making mistakes at work that your weren’t making prior. You can also be missing work more than you used to and you could be passed over for promotions or raises.
Are You Starting To See The Consequences Of Your Drinking?
If you are starting to see the feel the negative consequences that are resulting from your drinking, don’t wait until things get worse–get help immediately. Ocean Breeze Recovery Center provides the programming, counseling and support that you need to get back on track and healthy. Our experienced staff will work with you in every step of your stay and will create an individual plan of treatment that will address the root causes of your alcohol addiction and give you the best chance of life long recovery.
Don’t wait another day….call Ocean Breeze Recovery Center today.