Moving Past Denial Part 2

by: Mike Miller

Often when I teach alcohol awareness classes I question my students, “Do you think you have a drinking problem?” This set of blog entries will discuss what is a “problem” and understant your social drinking has become a problem-drinking habit. We will also address 3 stages of change – denial, anger, and acceptance. Finally, it will conclude with strategies for stopping drinking and preventing a return to drinking patterns.

Let's start by stating that no person has one drink and immediately it is a problem. Heavy drinking and alcoholism are developed over long periods of time.

How people in my class answer this query may surprise you. But first, let’s take a look at what defines heavy drinking and briefly talk about problematic alcohol consumption patterns.

How Much Alcohol Do You Consume Weekly? Daily?

As a recovering alcoholic and graduate of an online alcohol class, I became aware that there might be a problem when I encountered an fascinating question on a new patient form at my primary care physician The question said, "What quantity of alcoholic drinks do you consume on average per week?” The query on its own seems innocent enough. The multiple-choice answer was “A. 0. B. 1-3. C. 4-6. D. More than six”. I needed to reread the question to see if they weren’t actually asking per day.

At that point in my life, still two years before I stopped drinking, I was drinking at least 7 alcoholic beverages every day. Whether shots of hard alcohol, wine, or beer, I was most definitely in the “D” category – but every day.

That was my realization of truth, when I actually figured out, for a few tiny moments, that I might really have a drinking problem – and that I might be an alcoholic.

Are You a Heavy Drinker?

Heavy drinking is a pattern of drinking alcohol seen in almost all alcoholics. Heavy drinking is defined as having at least 5 alcoholic beverages on the same occasion at least five times in a single month.

As a recovering alcoholic, my story is that nearly every time I partook in the consumption of alcohol, I had five or more drinks – usually quite a few more.

Recent statistics show that around 17,000,000 U.S. residents are classified as heavy drinkers. That is almost 1/14 of the entire population 12 and older. If you only pay attention to people who can legally drink almost 12% are heavy drinkers.

If you think your are a heavy drinker, it is very likely you are an alcoholic and should seek help from a group like AA, or in some cases try taking an online alcohol awareness course.