Alcoholic! No. I'm Only a Weekend Drinker
anonymous Asks ...
My doctor told me that based on my answers in a test he did on my drinking (I answered totally honestly) I am probably an alcoholic. I was blown away by this. I have always considered myself a heavy drinker but I rarely drink during the week so I never thought of myself as really having a problem. He said you don’t have to drink everyday to be an alcoholic and that it is really more about how you crave it on regular basises. Can you help me to understand this? I thought that you were an alcoholic once your body was physically addicted to it and you got the shakes and whatnot when you didn’t have the alcohol everyday. If I can go 3 or 4 days without a drink with no problem can I really be an alcoholic? My doctor is new to the clinic and very young. I am not sure he has any real experience with this type of thing.
Florence Cameron Says ...
You stated you you were screened and the doctor told you that according to the results you fit the criteria for alcoholism. All physicians and diagnosticians use the same criteria with regards to substance dependence. The criteria for substance dependence set forth by the DSM-IV-TR, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Health Disorders. This manual is governed by WHO, the World Health Organization and all healthcare providers use this criteria in determining diagnoses around the world.
The doctor probably had you answer the following questions. Individuals who answer yes to any three or more of the following symptoms below within the last 12 months would be diagnosed as substance dependent. AKA: alcoholic/addict.
Continued use of alcohol even when significant problems related to it's use have developed.
Increased tolerance or need for increased amounts of substance to attain the desired affect.
Withdrawal symptoms with decreased use.
Unsuccessful efforts to decrease use.
Increase in time spent in activities to obtain substances.
Withdrawal from social and recreational activities because of using, being intoxicated, or withdrawing
And continued use of substance even with awareness of physical or psychological problems encountered by the extent of substance use.
You mentioned you didn't believe the diagnosis because you can go 3-4 days without drinking. However, can you say that you can stop on your own? Can you have a good time without having to altering your mood? If you answered yes to three or more of the above symptoms then you do meet the criteria for having alcohol dependence. The criteria isn't dependent on days of the week one drinks. It is based on the loss of control of the drinking, hence the tolerance level, interpersonal relationship problems, occupational problems, legal issues and increased quantity and frequency knowing the negative effects and unable to control the use.
Some of the behavioral patterns associated with substance use and dependence are:
Getting high on drugs are getting intoxicated on alcohol on a regular basis
Lying, especially about how much one is using or drinking
Avoiding friends and family members
Giving up activities one used to enjoy such as sports or spending time with non-using friends
Talking a lot about using drugs or alcohol
Believing one needs to use or drink in order to have fun
Getting in trouble with the law
Taking risk such as driving under the influence
Work performance suffers due to substance abuse before, after, or during working a
I hope I was able to she'd some light on your question.
Jeannie Cameron, LMHC