Y.E.T. - You're Eligible Too
anonymous Asks ...
If my alcohol tolerance goes up a lot does this mean I have a problem? I do not drink every day but I drink heavily on weekends. I can drink 15 to 20 beers on a Saturday night without being wasted wasted. I have been drinking like this for about 5 years. I am 24. I am also a very big guy. I am 6 foot 4 and 260 pounds. I never feel like I need to drink. My girlfriend told me that having a high tolerance like I do makes me an alcoholic. She wants me to stop drinking. I feel frustrated because I do not think I am an alcoholic at all. I never miss work or cause any problems and I don’t crave alcohol. If this does mean I am an alcoholic maybe I will look twice again. That’s why I would like some clarification on this issue. I do not plan on partying like this forever but I work hard all week and I am still young and like to have fun on the weekends.
Jim LaPierre Says ...
Hey thanks - that's a great question and one a lot of people got stuck on. In black and white terms a person is either an alcoholic or they're not. Depending on who you ask you'll get many different definitions of what an alcoholic is. You had the wisdom to ask an addictions counselor and not the advice of those less knowledgeable.
There are many, many different forms of alcoholism. Some people are absolutely dependent (addicted) to alcohol and are "high functioning" alcoholics - they work hard and play hard and don't seem to have any problems in their life.
Others are binge drinking alcoholics which most often means weekend drinking only but for some folks it's even less often than that - the key is that when they drink they don't stop.
At 24 you're ahead of your peers. Mot men take stock at about 25 - some wait until 30 - it's the pressure of feeling like we have to grow up and be more responsible. Here's something to consider - from an expert's point of view, your tolerance is a huge red flag for a problem in the making. You could wait until it's a problem. You could debate whether your girlfriend is right. Or you could consider that the road you're on - even if nothing changes, is going to get old and is going to take a toll on your health - and not years down the road either.
You seem like a smart guy. Don't wait until it's a problem. 15-20 beers is not having a few with the guys. It's a high tolerance to something that's killing a lot of brain cells. Good luck to you - hope you invest in you.