The most basic definition of an alcoholic is “a person whose drinking habits cause problems in his life.” There is no alcoholic definition that says an alcoholic must drink a certain number of drinks per week or that an alcoholic must drink every day.
Approximately 38 million adults in the United States drink too much, but most are not considered alcoholics. Typically you are not considered to be a true alcoholic or to have a real addiction to alcohol unless you have developed tolerance to alcohol, meaning you have to drink more and more in order to get a buzz or you can drink more than other people without even getting drunk, and you have withdrawal symptoms if you go too long without drinking, like getting the shakes or becoming anxious and irritable.
Even if you don’t seem to meet that strict definition of an alcoholic, though, you might have a drinking problem if your drinking interferes with your family, your job, or other aspects of your daily life.
The progression of alcohol dependence is a dynamic and complex process. If you’re wondering if you meet the definition of an alcoholic or if you really have a drinking problem, consider how your drinking is affecting your life.
If you answer yes to one or more of these questions, you might meet the alcoholic definition of “a person for whom alcohol causes problems in his life.”
If you’re not sure if you meet the definition of an alcoholic, you’re not alone. Many people aren’t sure. It’s a scary thing to think you might have a serious problem and denial is a common reaction. You don’t have to face this question alone, though, and you don’t have to guess whether or not you have a problem. See a qualified professional for an assessment.
A professional can tell you if you meet the alcoholic definition
and advise you about the type of treatment recommended for someone with your
level of dependence on alcohol. You can also follow this link to learn more about the MAST and CAGE screening tests.
If you’re concerned about a loved one, not yourself, of course you can talk with a professional about that, as well. A professional cannot make a diagnosis without actually seeing or speaking to the person in question, but he or she can answer questions and let you know if you have cause to be concerned. Alcoholism, more than other diseases, needs the integration of family and social history, physical signs and symptoms, as well as laboratory data to make a concrete diagnosis. Click here for more information on alcoholism recovery.