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Thread: When does enjoying alcohol become an addiction?

  1. #1

    Default When does enjoying alcohol become an addiction?

    So it seems like a good time to do a self-assessment. A few years ago I was diagnosed with fatty liver, which is a condition that us fat people get when we have high triglycerides that build up in liver tissue. I haven't had issues with it for about four years, but I've been gaining weight recently so it's been flaring up. I have an appointment with the doc on Monday though I already know what the course of treatment will be- lose 20 pounds or so, and stop drinking until I'm going down.

    So, similarly to considering the possibility that you're insane is a sign you aren't (I have no idea if that's true, but I hear it a lot), I'd like to consider the possibility I'm an alcoholic. I enjoy drinking. I like the taste of liquor. I like the feeling of being drunk. I like the emotions that being drunk brings me. Alcohol heightens my emotions. If I drink when I'm sad, I'll become despondent. If I drink when I'm happy, I'll be over the moon. For that reason, drinking is a purely fun-time activity for me.

    I'm not sure if I can stop drinking any time I want. I don't drink too often. Sometimes I'll drink 2-3 times a week, but frequently I won't have a drink for 2-3 months just because I never have the urge to do so- the odd glass of wine when out to dinner aside. The only thing that makes me think I might be an alcoholic is that when I do get the urge to drink and for any reason can't, I get upset about it. That said, you can substitute in anything else I like doing for alcohol in this example and it remains true. If all of a sudden I decide it'd be awesome to order a pizza and I find out that my favorite place closed 10 minutes ago, I'm an unhappy camper. I don't think that I'm a pizzaholic. Of course, in neither case is this the end of the world. I'm pouty for a while and then go back to my regularly scheduled life.

    I remember a comedian a few years back- I think Mitch Hedberg, RIP- who said that there's no good way to say that you're not an alcoholic, because saying you're not will make it sound like you are. The thought of not being able to drink for possibly a few months is one I don't like, but one I accept as necessary. I just feel rather unhappy about it and would like to get some input from the other people here.

  2. #2

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    I think just being upset about something when you don't get it is hardly an addiction. You wanted something, you didn't get it. Of course you aren't going to be happy with this because you were let down. It stinks. I guess the main question is how upset do you get? Does it ruin your day, or perhaps just bum you out for an hour or two? You just described it as being "pouty for a while" so I personally think you are just fine.

    The way I see it you like it, but you don't need it. It's when you need it to even keep you functioning.. like.. you can't think of anything else but it for hours and hours or you need it to keep you from being miserable for an entire day or dealing with any type of emotional pain, that's when I would be concerned.
    Last edited by gigglemuffinz; 04-Apr-2013 at 16:01. Reason: bold over cap for emphasis

  3. #3

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    You have an addiction when you can not function with out it. If you can go a few weeks months with out alcohol then you might not be addicted, but if you feel the need to drink it then you might have an addiction. To what level that addiction might be is another story.

  4. #4

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    Alcoholics drink to get drunk everyday. The occasional binge isn't the same thing. Even The Rock has a "cheat day" every week where he eats stacks of brownies and pizza all day, but it doesn't make him a food addict. You're not a machine, you gotta let yourself indulge once in awhile.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by AEsahaettr
    I'm not sure if I can stop drinking any time I want. I don't drink too often. Sometimes I'll drink 2-3 times a week, but frequently I won't have a drink for 2-3 months just because I never have the urge to do so- the odd glass of wine when out to dinner aside. The only thing that makes me think I might be an alcoholic is that when I do get the urge to drink and for any reason can't, I get upset about it.
    Well if it's worth anything that sounds like me to a great degree. Though for me it's 4-5 times a week. The Dietary Guide for Americans says no more than 2 alcoholic beverages a day, so going by their definition, this doesn't sound like alcohol abuse/addiction so far. I mean, I can quit drinking all together, I just would rather not. It's fun and I love the many flavors of such beverages. My gut says you are probably the same way, why? Because of this:



    That said, you can substitute in anything else I like doing for alcohol in this example and it remains true. If all of a sudden I decide it'd be awesome to order a pizza and I find out that my favorite place closed 10 minutes ago, I'm an unhappy camper. I don't think that I'm a pizzaholic. Of course, in neither case is this the end of the world. I'm pouty for a while and then go back to my regularly scheduled life.
    My friend actually had alcoholism. He would drink because he needed to drink. He couldn't stop no matter how hard he tried. He would shake and throw fits until he got some. He needed a beverage in his hand daily or he couldn't function.

    That doesn't sound like you from what the information you've provided. You're life doesn't sound tore up from it. I get pouty or irritated if I can't sit back, relax and have a beer while I play games for a weekend. It's like going to the bar and ordering a pop. Who the hell does that? I want to enjoy my pleasures unhindered. Sure I don't need them and their not detrimental, but I demand my creature comforts! If I had a liver disease and couldn't drink, I'd be pretty upset. It's a big social thing for me especially.

    Sure I do fear that sometimes, but I think it's just an unfounded fear. My uncle did die from drunk driving, my grandfather liver failure, on my moms side both had alcohol issues. It's in my genes somewhere if I had inherited it. But I know I can get help or talk to my family if I ever did, but I don't think I will have to.

    Be aware of it sure, but I wouldn't worry. Keep healthy is all that matters.

  6. #6

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    If you're wondering whether you're an alcoholic, a good way to find out might be to ask yourself: do you have alcoholic bevarages around your house/apartment and do they remain there without being consumed for substantial amounts of time? If the answer is "yes", then you're probably not an alcoholic. But if you realize that having alcoholic beverages around and not being able to ignore them for longer periods of time, then you may be an alcoholic.

    Myself, for example, I've got some scotch, vodka, cachaca and wine in the cupboard. But i hardly ever drink any of it. Maybe once every 2-3 weeks, or even less frequently, I might have a scotch, or some wine or a beer or whatever. This tells me I'm not having any addiction problems with alcohol.

    However if I consumed alcoholic beverages whenever they were available... That would make me a bit concerned

  7. #7

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    As a precursor to my discussion on this, I want to say that I was once accused of being a drug addict by my boss because I was on a regular schedule of heavy pain medications and could not instantly stop without enduring withdrawal symptoms.

    There are multiple things to look at when determining whether something is addiction, physical dependency, or none of the above. Physical dependency is what I dealt with while on pain medications because my body had grown used to the medication inside it and would protest against stopping (known as withdrawal symptoms). The amount of medication I took on a regular basis did not change over a period of several years.

    Addiction requires a second definition on top of the physical dependency. It requires a psychological component where you constantly crave more and more to avoid the withdrawals and also achieve the good feelings associated with being under the influence. This is the definition I was given by my doctor who was prescribing my pain medication for her to point out to me I was not addicted. I was not taking the pain medications to get high, but instead to feel normal.

    Alcohol addiction (known as alcoholism) is the same way. Do you NEED the alcohol in your body on a regular basis to avoid physical manifestation of not having it? In other words, if you don't regularly have a drink, do you get the shakes, break out in a sweat, etc.? Are you constantly needing to increase the amount you drink to get the feeling that it provides?

    Given that your situation does not seem to include any of these issues, you would not be medically termed an alcoholic. Whether or not you feel alcohol is an issue in your life is something further from there that is best discussed with either a medical professional or qualified therapist.

  8. #8

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Traemo View Post
    Relevant Tangent: Addiction =/= Problem
    Here is a point where you may have some serious difficulty arguing. As addiction has the psychological component to it, the psychological need for more of a substance overwhelms all other drives. This leads to self-destructive behavior to obtain the substance.

    If you are talking about something other than true, medically defined addiction, then the argument changes. Something like an "addiction" to diapers is not commonly a true addiction because you do not go through physical symptoms or have a constant psychological need for more to counteract the tolerance built up. Not saying it cannot happen, but most people I have seen on ADISC do not show the symptoms of true addiction.

  10. #10

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    I too like drinking largely because I like the effect of it. Arguably, admitting that you do that pretty much checks off several of the criteria for alcohol dependency, but those criteria are very squishy. That's kind of the problem here; it's not really clear what defines having an alcohol problem until it's noticeably affecting your daily life.


    For what it's worth, I read a paper a while back that took a massive sample size (~20K people), and controlling for basically every factor imaginable, found a correlation between intelligence and use of alcohol for the sake of getting drunk.




    Quote Originally Posted by Geno View Post
    Well if it's worth anything that sounds like me to a great degree.
    ...and me three.



    Though for me it's 4-5 times a week.
    Ditto.

    Though I suppose the question of volume is probably the fair follow-up question that nobody is asking or answering.



    That doesn't sound like you from what the information you've provided. You're life doesn't sound tore up from it. I get pouty or irritated if I can't sit back, relax and have a beer while I play games for a weekend. It's like going to the bar and ordering a pop. Who the hell does that? I want to enjoy my pleasures unhindered. Sure I don't need them and their not detrimental, but I demand my creature comforts! If I had a liver disease and couldn't drink, I'd be pretty upset. It's a big social thing for me especially.
    Pretty much this too.

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