A Portrait Of An Alcoholic
Is there an accurate portrait of what an alcoholic looks like? In other words is there such a thing as a typical
alcoholic or not?
Popular myths might like to portray an alcoholic as a person who is falling down drunk all of the time and as a
person who is constantly carrying around a bottle and sneaking drinks whenever he can.
This portrait might also include a person who drinks as soon as he awakens in the morning because he cannot
function properly throughout the workday without having a drink (or many drinks). While this may describe some
alcoholics, it certainly does not describe them all. Alcoholics do not really confirm to any strict
An alcoholic can be a down and out person who has lost his job and has drank all of his money away to the point
where he has lost his home and family and must survive on the streets.
On the other hand many upstanding, professional members of the community also have problems with alcohol, even
if they are able to hide it better.
There is a great deal of difference between what is deemed social drinking as opposed to problem drinking and
that of alcoholism.
Social drinking is classified as being mild to moderate drinking (such as for example one to three drinks at a
time) which is done for the purposes of simply unwinding or relaxing at a social get together with family members
In the case of social drinking, the drinking is kept in check- there is no impaired judgement, no loss of
control and no loss of any level of responsibility on the individuals part.
Problem drinking on the other hand is drinking that takes place on a continual basis despite the fact that a
host of problems arises because of it.
These problems could involve social problems, legal problems, physical problems or occupational related problems
that are directly caused by drinking or else are made worst by consuming alcohol.
An example of this might be a college student who goes on a drinking binge every second or third weekend and
then misses a day or two of classes at the start of the school week in order to recuperate.
This person shows no other noticeable symptoms that his drinking has developed into a problem. Alcoholism is
most definitely problem drinking that is taken to the next dangerous level.
Did You Know
There are four general rules that are used by diagnosticians to determine alcohol
substance use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, home
(e.g., repeated absences or poor work performance related to substance use; substance-related
absences, suspensions, or expulsions from school; neglect of children or household)
substance use in situations in which it is physically hazardous such as driving a car or
substance related legal problems
substance use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems that are
caused or made worse by the substance abuse.
There are the added factors inherent in alcoholism such as a total preoccupation with the consumption of it as
well as the compulsion to always have it, as well as tolerance (requiring higher and higher quantities to get
the same high feeling) and a multitude of symptoms of withdrawal.
The state of withdrawal makes reference to uncomfortable physical kinds of symptoms that occur after a great
deal of alcohol has been consumed. A person may experience many of these or only a few.
Examples of withdrawal symptoms include nausea, headaches, trembling, uncontrollable thirst for liquids, and a
feeling of being edgy or antsy.
If a family member is worrying you with their behavor when they are drinking, make
arrangements so that you have a safe place to go when their drinking gets out of hand.
Once a person has been identified as being an alcoholic, they are then considered to have a medical condition
or disease and it is believed that the disease of alcoholism can develop as a result of a number of different
factors such as genetic factors, environmental factors and psychosocial factors.