02/28/2011 03:54 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

So, Am I An Alcoholic?

I work and pay my bills. I am fully clothed. I do smell good. Why in the world would you call me an alcoholic?

In a modern world where social standing matters (big time) and networking gatherings occur endlessly, alcohol plays the role of tranquilizer, entrepreneur, mediator and therapist simultaneously. Professionals, students and random Joes (and Janes) drink socially to mingle and expel the arduous stresses of a day's work. But when does drinking socially become too much?

Alcoholics Anonymous, the largest 12-step program in the world, states alcoholism is a disease. They consider it a dual problem: a physical allergy and a mental obsession:

  1. A physical allergy because when the affected individual comes in contact with alcohol, their judgment becomes blurred and it triggers...

  • The mental obsession: which is to drink without brakes even when his/her life becomes unmanageable and he/she loses control over it.
  • Recovering alcoholics compare such allergy to more common ones like shellfish or lactose intolerance. They also compare the disease to lifelong battles like cancer or AIDS. Then why does the word "alcoholic" imply negativity?

    Oftentimes the alcoholic stereotype portrays a stinky, hairy, homeless man. Nevertheless, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention revealed the following statistics:

    Alcohol Use

    (Data for the U.S.)


    Percent of adults 18 years of age and over who were current regular drinkers (at least 12 drinks in the past year): 52%

    Percent of adults 18 years of age and over who were current infrequent drinkers (1-11 drinks in the past year): 13%

    Source: Summary Health Statistics for U.S. Adults: National Health Interview Survey, 2009, table 27


    Number of alcoholic liver disease deaths: 14,406

    Number of alcohol-induced deaths, excluding accidents and homicides: 23,199

    Source: Deaths: Final Data for 2007, tables 12, 23

    It has been my experience that alcoholics only recover after accepting their alcoholism and deciding to act upon it. Even when family and friends tell you, "You're drinking too much," "Slow down on that drink," or, "You have a drinking problem."

    It doesn't make a difference if you don't embrace who you are. A variety of AA approved literature exists to ask yourself certain questions to discover if you, in fact, suffer from this disease. Only after a thorough knowledge of such answers will you have an honest response to the question: "Am I an alcoholic?"