Do I Have a Drinking Problem?

Do I Have a Drinking Problem?


A reader writes in and asks: “Do I have a drinking problem?”

Well, do you?

Really, how should I know?  If it is not a problem, then it is not a problem.  But here  you are, asking if it is a problem, and so that would seem to point to the answer right there.

What do normal people do?  Let’s think about this for a moment.  A normal person drinks every once in a while and does not usually go overboard with it, if at all, and they do not sit around and question their level of drinking.  A normal person does not wonder if they have a drinking problem.  It does not even occur to them as a possibility.

Now, just because you are questioning yourself does not automatically mean that you are a raging alcoholic.  But obviously, the questioning points to the fact that there is a problem.

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Now, to diagnose the extent of your problem, you need to do an experiment or two.

If you like Pina Coladas...
Creative Commons License photo credit: Mark Heard

First of all, stop drinking entirely for 30 days.  This should be fairly easy to do.  If you are gritting your teeth in order to go 30 days without a drink, then that is a pretty big red flag.  You are doing a 30 day trial of being alcohol free.  The results of this will show you a few things.  One, if you cannot do it at all, then there is a huge problem right there.  Two, if you notice that you don’t have any problems with your life during the 30 days of abstinence, then this can be valuable information later on when you make a decision about whether or not you want to continue drinking.

Now you might do one other experiment after this 30 days is over.  You might try to do another 30 days in which you limit yourself to one drink per day. Again, this should be easy for anyone to do unless there is a problem.  If you find that you cannot limit yourself to one drink, then that is another warning sign right there.

Now there are really 2 levels of “problems” here.  One is the alcoholic and the other is the problem drinker. The alcoholic will probably struggle with both experiments.  The problem drinker will probably only struggle with the second experiment, but not the first one.  In other words, they can abstain just fine, but they will have problems sticking to the one drink per day thing.  Normal people who do not have any problems with drinking at all will be able to do both experiments with no struggle at all.

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