Am I an Alcoholic?

Are you one?

“Do you think you are an alcoholic?”, a friend asked me recently.

“I don’t think so, I have never considered myself one.”, I replied as we ordered another pint.

Once home I started to think about it, and it made me reconsider the definition of alcoholism. Are alcoholics only those people who are always under the influence? Does someone like me, who drinks on a regular basis, qualify to be classed as such? Like most of my friends, I am dependent on alcohol and it has become a regular part of my lifestyle.

I started drinking in my teens and never really looked back. Since then, barely a week has gone by without a drink or two being involved. Over the years, it seems to be the only constant in my life. I moved from one place to another, had numerous jobs, friends and partners came and went. Through it all, I was drinking and on occasion, smoking. These years of drinking have had an effect on my body; my beer belly and hangover-filled work days are proof of that. I have lost weeks of my life in a hazy stupor brought on after a heavy night out. But I am not an alcoholic.

Hanging out with friends almost always involves alcohol, come rain or shine. A hot summers day is perfect to crack open a cold one, and some quick shots are always welcome on a cold winter’s night. Whether you are at a music festival, in a sporting event, or any sort of social gathering, a few drinks are guaranteed. Despite those countless pints, shots, glasses and cans, I still don’t think I qualify to be called an alcoholic.

It is time to wonder if we have set the bar too high for alcoholism. Drinking socially is the norm and it is usually hard to have a good time without having a drink. It is not for lack of trying though. There have been days where I was determined not to drink but ended up getting totally wasted. Peer pressure is a real thing here. It is easy to bring up will power (the lack of) but life does not usually work like that, specially with an active social life.

No, I’m not an alcoholic, but the evidence seems to suggest otherwise.