It's not abnormal for a person with a drinking problem to deny the fact that their use of alcohol is having a negative impact on their life. Many people who are dependent on alcohol have distorted views of what an alcoholic is. They see themselves as normal functional people who like to drink because alcoholics are usually homeless dysfunctional people living on the streets.
Don't get me wrong, sadly there are many dysfunctional alcoholics who have lost everything including their health but just because a person can fortunately hold down a job doesn't mean they're not alcohol dependent.
There are probably more functional alcoholics in our society today than there are dysfunctional ones and because they don't start their day off with a drink or end their day that way, they see themselves as ok. Most functional alcoholics are usually able to get to work on time, maintain their careers and relationships so they don't view themselves as alcoholics or of having a drinking problem. Being a functional alcoholic just adds to a person's denial even though they can't wait to have that first drink which makes them want more, they're unable to limit their drinking, and they don't see their personality changes when they can't drink.
Another misconception many people have is that in order to have a drinking problem, a person has to drink every day. This is definitely not true, if a person is unable to stop drinking once they start even if it's once a year, they have a problem with alcohol. This is the hardest thing for most problem drinkers to understand. Most people are able to enjoy an alcoholic beverage and limit their consumption but no matter what a person's drinking pattern may be, if one drink leads to another because the person is unable to stop, they have a problem with alcohol.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) provides guidelines associated with "a standard drink". A standard drink in the U.S. is considered to have around "14 grams of pure alcohol" according to NIAA. They provide examples of a standard drink which includes the following:
- 12 ounce regular beer (around 5 percent alcohol)
- 8 to 9 ounce malt liquor (around 7 percent alcohol)
- 5 ounce table wind (around 12 percent alcohol)
- 1.5 ounce shot of 80 proof hard liquor (around 40 percent alcohol)
There are several different drinking patters associated with alcohol consumption which include moderate drinking, alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence and binge drinking.
People who are moderate drinkers are at a much lower risk of becoming dependent on alcohol or of alcohol abuse. The levels of alcohol consumed are different for men and women who are considered moderate drinkers according to National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism NIAAA. For a woman, 7 drinks or less a week and no more than 3 drinks in a days' time. For a man, 14 drinks or less a week and no more than 4 drinks in a day's time. People who consume alcohol above the daily and weekly limits set in place would no longer be considered moderate drinkers and they would be at a higher risk of an alcohol use disorder which includes alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. Just because a person is considered to be a moderate drinker they have to be in good health for alcohol not to be a problem for them though.
The term alcohol abuse is a pattern of drinking in which alcohol consumption affects a person's health, has a negative impact on their relationships and gets in their way of fulfilling important responsibilities. People who abuse alcohol for an extended period of time risk alcohol dependence (alcoholism). Alcohol abuse is very serious because even though a person may not be addicted to alcohol their drinking has a negative impact on their life. The abuse of alcohol can lead to driving under the influence (DUI), relationship problems, school or career problems or other legal problems associated with alcohol use.
Alcohol addiction and alcoholism are also known as alcohol dependence. When a person is dependent on alcohol they're not able to limit their drinking and are unable to stop on their own without experiencing cravings and withdrawal symptoms. No matter how much a person's consumption of alcohol affects their physical and emotional health, relationships and other important areas of their life, they continue to drink if they're addicted to alcohol.
Another pattern of consuming alcohol is called binge drinking which many teens and young adults commonly do today. When a person binge drinks they consume enough alcohol in a 2 hour period of time in which their blood alcohol level reaches 0.08% and higher. According to NIAAA this is about 5 drinks for a man and about 4 drinks for a woman. Many teens and college students binge drink while socializing today and unfortunately a lot of them are getting behind the wheel and putting their lives and everyone on the road's lives in jeopardy. When a person consumes a large amount of alcohol in a couple hours' time they also risk alcohol poisoning which they could die from. Binge drinking can also eventually lead to addiction and alcoholism in the future.
Withdrawal Symptoms Associated With Alcohol Dependence
The intensity and duration of withdrawal symptoms experienced when a person stops drinking if they're addicted to alcohol varies for from person to person. It depends on the individuals overall health, how heavily they consumed alcohol and how long they actively drank before they stopped. Alcohol dependence withdrawal symptoms include alcohol cravings, nausea, trembling, shakiness, anxiety, nervousness and sweating.
Alcoholism (Alcohol Dependence)
Most active alcoholics truly believe they're in control of their drinking and that they can stop whenever they want to and some recovering alcoholics think some day they will be able drink in moderation. Alcoholism is a chronic disease that never goes away but a person can successfully learn how to manage their recovery on a daily basis. Thousands of people have stopped drinking for long periods of time and for various reasons, started drinking again (relapsed). They soon learn that they will never be able to limit their use of alcohol in the future because of their alcohol dependence but that they can learn how to maintain their daily sobriety.
There's no cure for alcoholism but with the right form of treatment and support a person can learn how to manage their alcohol addiction and be in control of their future living an alcohol free lifestyle. Everyone's path of recovery from alcohol dependence is different so it's extremely important that a person seeking help for alcoholism or alcohol abuse finds a recovery program that's individually suited for them.