What Constitutes an Alcoholic

“Am I an alcoholic?”

Wondering this is more subjective than what people think. When patients ask me this question, I turn it around and ask, “What makes you think so?” That’s where the real meat of the matter is because you’re not going to change anything unless you think it’s a problem.

Stop worrying about what others think.

The first thing to do is, stop worrying about what someone else’s checklist is and think about you. In Psychiatry, when we talk about someone having a diagnosis or a problem, how it’s defined is if there’s a problem that is negatively impacting your functioning, such as your socializing, intimate relationships, or your job then that’s what we call a problem. If you’re not able to cut back and keep those things from negatively impacting your life, then we call it a problem.

If you’re doing something that is causing you a problem in one of those major areas of your life and you haven’t been able to corral it, then that’s a problem.

Don’t beat yourself up.

The key to thinking about a problem is not to beat yourself up for having a problem. We all have problems; problems are going to come and go. If you start getting worked up because you have a problem and somehow you’re not perfect, you’re distracting yourself from solutions. It’s normal to go through several solutions before you find the one that works for you.

The key to a healthy lifestyle, is thinking, “Where do I want to excel? Where do I want to improve?” This is very different from, “If I’m not perfect, then something is wrong with me.” I hope you can see the difference. We want you to turn your attention to know it’s normal, natural, and healthy to be thinking about areas where you want to improve all the time. 

If alcohol is an area you want to improve in your life, and you find yourself asking, “am I an alcoholic?” Stay tuned for the next posts about what works and what doesn’t work when deciding to cut back on alcohol.

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1 Comment

  1. Jack

    Definitely sending this to a few friends!


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