Am I An Alcoholic If I Drink Everyday?

by pgh

No, you’re not necessarily an alcoholic just because you drink everyday.

If you look at a conventional medical definition of an alcoholic according to the psychiatric diagnostic manual – the DSM-5, 40% of college students could be categorized as an alcoholic.

That’s because according to the DSM-5, you can be classified as an alcoholic based on:

  • Substance abuse: This is the definition that catches “party” drinkers who like to get hammered in certain social situations
  • Substance dependence: This is closer to what people commonly know as alcoholism

A More Realistic Definition Of Alcoholism

For a more realistic definition of alcoholism, lets look at the 2nd part of the DSM definition – substance dependence, and see how it applies in the real world.

Perhaps a simple way to answer the question “Am I an alcoholic?”, is to ask yourself if you can drink like a “normal” person. In general, a “normal” drinker – even if they drink everyday – doesn’t have their life negatively affected by alcohol.

Of course, the alcoholic tends to deny that their life is affected negatively – even when its clear to everyone around them that they’re destroying themselves, so lets look at some more objective signs of alcoholism.

Signs Of Alcoholism

  • Friends or family tell you that they’re concerned with your drinking
  • Dangerous alcohol driven behavior like drinking and driving
  • Becoming angry or violent while drinking
  • You miss work because of alcohol
  • You drink at work
  • No longer enjoy sober activities that used to bring you pleasure
  • You can’t just limit yourself to “1” drink without being miserable
  • You experience physical withdrawal symptoms when you don’t drink
  • You hide your drinking from those around you

None of these factors alone necessarily mean you’re an alcoholic, but if you’ve experienced more than 1 of these signs, there’s a good chance you have a real drinking problem.

Some of the signs, like experiencing physical withdrawal, or hiding your drinking from those around you, are pretty sure-fire signs that you’ve crossed the line into full blown alcoholism.

AA’s Big Book

If you’re looking for a less conventional way to tell if you’re an alcoholic, you can try this test straight from AA’s big book:

If you can drink just 1 drink everyday for 30 days without struggle, you’re probably not an alcoholic.  Most alcoholics would be flat out unable to do this, or if they could do it, would struggle greatly.

Be Honest With Yourself

If you’re on this page, there’s a good chance you typed something into Google along the lines of “if I drink everyday, am I an alcoholic?”.

If that’s how you got here, then maybe you know that something is wrong. “Normal” drinkers – even those who enjoy a daily drink or two – don’t ask themselves these sorts of questions. These sorts of questions usually creep up when you notice alcohol affecting your life negatively – maybe someone told you they’re concerned with your drinking problem, or maybe you’ve been continually late to work due to your drinking.

One of the big difficulties in diagnosing alcoholism, is that it requires the alcoholic to be honest about their drinking habits, and the effects they have on their life. One of the most common symptoms of alcoholism is denial, which is also one of the reasons alcoholism is so difficult to treat.

If you really want to know if you have a drinking problem or not, be honest yourself when examining the signs of alcoholism listed above. Without honesty, diagnosing alcoholism can be next to impossible.

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