When to say no….alcohol abuse and moderation

overchilled wine

overchilled wine (Photo credit: herbrm)


You know from some of my other posts I like to party, to have fun, to enjoy a drink or three or four and of course break out into a sweat on the dance floor. But most importantly I know when to stop. But not everyone is capable of doing this.

Why is that some people cannot stop at four or five drinks, they have to go and get blotto and lose their way home, sleep off their hangover on the couch at their mates place and then once home spend the rest of the day in bed unable to move without placing their head over a bucket?


Alcoholism and alcohol abuse can be caused by many interconnected factors, including genetics, how you were raised, your social environment, and your emotional health. Some ethnic groups are more at risk, as well as those who have a family history of alcoholism or who associate closely with heavy drinkers. Some people with a mental health problem are also at risk, because alcohol may be used to self-medicate.

Many of us won’t like to admit it, but we’ve all been there at some point of our life often in our teens or early twenties, and maybe the odd slip in our thirties (I tend to blame the lack of food and my slight body frame, whenever my indulgence in alcohol is a little bit more than I should have and the toilet is my best friend!) But really when do we grow-up and partake in adult situations without becoming legless? For someone who is a ‘problem’ or heavy drinker are they even able to?

Psychology Today’s article, Social Drinkers, Problem Drinkers and High-Functioning Alcoholics  gives several definitions of the characteristics seen in social drinkers, problem drinkers and alcoholics.

If you enjoy the odd tipple at night over dinner you may not like this definition. Most weeks I would fall into the social drinker category, which is only seven drinks a week and no more than three drinks at one sitting for females, with a male’s intake being double, 14 drinks a week and no more than four at one sitting! But there is the odd week when I do drink more, should I be beating down the door of the closest rehab?

The article then lists alcoholism warning signs. Reading this list I feel somewhat self-righteous and wipe the sweat from my brow. Out of a list of 20, there are only a couple of signs that semi-resembled my drinking patterns. One of the warning signs is trying to set a drinking limit, but then not adhering to it, but who hasn’t had the odd thought about trying to set a drinking limit, especially if you are like me, with a controlling Type A persona.

Another sign of alcoholism was that you behaved in a way, while drunk, that is uncharacteristic of your sober personality, but isn’t that the point of getting wasted? Because who hasn’t had a drink to lose their inhibitions when in a new social situation or before letting loose on the dance floor!

Now don’t take me wrong, I’m not trying to diminish the affect alcohol can have on someone, their family or community and society at large when abused.  Alcohol in my own family has been misused to the detriment of others. But what about those who don’t abuse alcohol, but enjoy the odd pint at the pub or bottle of wine with dinner, why is society at large starting to make us feel guilty or make us second guess ourselves when historically people have always drunk alcohol. Sure back in the Dark Ages people’s lives may have been shorter, and more miserable with no power for those cold and dark nights, and lets face it, living in those conditions could make many a teetotaller sneak a shot of gin. So when did we get so conservative and judgemental?

Historically it’s the same old story, a few people’s drunkenness and reliance on alcohol ruining everyone’s fun. In David J. Hanson’s article, ‘History of Alcohol and Drinking around the World‘ it’s claimed that Ancient Egypt promoted moderation and warned against the evil of taverns and excessive drinking.

In both the Old and New Testaments wine was considered to be a creation of God and therefore inherently good, but nevertheless, drunkenness was still condemned. And in the second century, several heretical sects rejected alcohol and called for abstinence. And so it went on through the pages of time, some groups partaking in too much alcohol, some in moderation and some abstinent.

I don’t want to tell you or anyone else how to live your life. I guess I believe in moderation and following your own moral code, whether you choose to  be abstinent  or spend a night at the pub  socialising. But do you really want to be that mother who tells her child as they leave for school in the rain, that it will be next week before they can afford to buy the desperately needed school shoes, then watch your child walk down the road avoiding puddles because of the holes in their shoe soles, all because you had a spend up at the pub that weekend. Or spend one too many days in bed on a stunning day because you physically can’t get out of bed. Or be that person who can’t remember the previous night and what may or may not have happened with your married colleague. If your drinking is causing problems in your life, you may have a drinking problem.

Life is for the living, so lets live, but lets not die too early due to self abuse or harm. Because, hey, don’t you want to be around in your old age sitting outside a cafe in a country you don’t live in, having a glass of wine or trekking the countryside and most importantly being happy, healthy and lost in your own private bliss?

If you have a loved one whose drinking might be out of control. First of all, get help for yourself and don’t let it destroy you. Either go to your doctor or look online for organisations close to your home who you can support you.

If you think all the signs are signalling to you that you may be drinking one or five too many, do the same, either go to your doctor or a local organisation for support. And don’t forget the ones who love you, because if you have noticed, they will have too. And possibly they are just waiting for you to put your hand up and say ‘help’.

For a good source on alcoholism and alcohol abuse signs and other info, click here.

If you live in New Zealand, and feel you need a break drinking alcohol for whatever reason try Dry July











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