As a substance abuse counselor, I was asked many times by clients, “Am I an alcoholic?”

My response was simple: “Do you think ‘normal’ drinkers ask that question?”

Only alcoholics understand what ‘normal’ drinkers are. They’re the ones that walk into a bar, order a drink and leave an hour later with half the drink still in the glass.  

Your feelings about the answer to the question regarding normal drinkers can tell you almost as much as the answer to the question itself. If you hear the question and feel uneasy, anxious or stressed, then your next step should be to schedule an assessment with an addiction specialist. They can point out warning signs to you and let you know what you may want to do.

Aside from the question, there are other clues that separate the normal drinkers from us alcoholics:

Alcohol Addiction Symptoms    

  • Drinking causes you problems on the job
  • If you come in late, often or leave early and the reason for each has to do with alcohol, then your work is affected by drinking and is a symptom.
  • Drinking before or while operating a vehicle

Normal drinkers don’t drink before getting behind the wheel. If they do, it’s to have one drink or a beer, and they stop because they realize the life consequences of getting a DUI.

Blackouts — can’t remember what you did while drinking

Pretty obvious, but many people don’t know what a blackout is. It’s not just a case of losing memory, it’s a case of not creating a memory to lose. You act in unconventional ways and have no remembrance of them later.

  • Alcohol-related legal problems
  • Anytime you have legal problems and alcohol is involved, that is a sign of clear and present danger regarding your drinking.
  • Injured while drinking
  1. Sure. A lot of people get injured who never touched a drop of booze. But if your injury can be traced back to alcohol, then you have a problem.

Continued drinking in the face of significant health consequences

If your wife threatens to leave you, for example, if you don’t stop drinking, but you continue drinking, WARNING!

No power over how much booze you drink

People who can enjoy alcohol appropriately can go into a bar planning to order two drinks. They leave later having consumed — two drinks. An alcoholic can’t predict accurately how much they’ll drink. For an alcohol abuser, two drinks turns into four, which turns into — well, you get the idea.

Withdrawal symptoms when attempts are made to stop drinking

Consuming alcohol is a social lubricant. People may sit around a campfire and enjoy a few beers or in a nightclub as they socialize over a few drinks. If they stop consuming alcohol, their body’s don’t notice. An alcoholic has put so much booze into their body that the abnormal has become normal and the body doesn’t know what to do without alcohol — hence, withdrawal symptoms appear as the body tries to adjust.

Alcoholism is medically termed a disease which manifests itself in the sustained use of alcohol in spite of adverse life outcomes. Alcohol abuse is the cause of over 100,000 deaths a year in America and Canada and is the chief cause of death in teens owing to alcohol-related car accidents.

As a medical condition, treatment by specialists is required. Suddenly stopping consumption after prolonged use may result in even more complications — including death. Detox is in the category of “do not try this at home.” Detoxification attempts without help from a medical doctor should NEVER be made.

Are You an Alcoholic?

Google “signs of alcoholism” and over 181,000,000 references are found. That’s an awful lot of wasted bits and bytes when the answer can be found in eight words:

“Do you think ‘normal’ drinkers ask that question?”