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Finding the Line in a Friend Whether They “Drink a Lot” or Are Alcoholics

Is a friend an alcoholic or do they “just drink a lot?” There is an extremely subtle difference between these two considerations. Blogher is a wonderful resource for learning more on alcoholism. Read more on alcoholism on their alcohol rehab piece on

Now, one could make the argument that there is hardly a difference between “drinking a lot” and being an alcoholic. Don’t alcoholics drink a lot by definition? It is a fair argument, but it also gets to the root of what will eventually lead to a healthy lifestyle. Someone who “drinks a lot” may not capitulate many of the symptoms and life-changing damages that can occur with alcoholism. With that, they are very unlikely to pursue help in this regard because there life is, for the most part, put together. Their arguably heavy drinking is not directly impacting the life they built around them.

Instead of looking at the line of “drinking a lot” and alcoholic, look at what is being affected. Is the person drinking every day? Are they losing sleep due to drinking? Are they causing distress to those around them? Will they buy a case of beer before paying the rent?

The line that is spoken of between these two “levels” is arbitrary. Someone could be an alcoholic if they have one drink a day. If their life is being negatively affected by this one drink, they could be designated an alcoholic. The important thing to remember is not the quantity of drinking. This will point the conversation in the wrong direction. What matters is how the drinking is being perceived, how is being affected, and to what degree? These factors far outweigh any argument of “well, I only drink once a day.” Others may rarely get drunk, but they happen to drink a pack a day spread out over 12 hours. Alcoholism will manifest in many ways, especially when it is blurring the line and the individual is generally functional throughout the day. If someone’s life is being affected in any way, however slight, they could gain valuable insight into exploring what alcohol addiction is all about.