What is the definition of an alcoholic? The term "alcoholic" is often thrown around without much thought, and the definition of an alcoholic differs from person to person. Many people believe that alcoholism can be defined by how many drinks a person consumes in one sitting or over the course of a week. Others may instead focus on alcohol's effects on mental health, relationships, or physical conditions such as liver cirrhosis.
Ask ten professionals for the definition of an alcoholic and you might get ten different answers. While the facts about alcohol are fairly well
Documented, there is often debate as to who is drinking to excess and who is not as it pertains to medical terminology.
For laypeople, the issue is often more pragmatic. Infrequent or social drinkers are most often seen as not having a problem. In many social circles, the occasional drink is all but mandatory.
The issue of whether or not a person has crossed the line often depends on how the person acts as well as how often he or she drinks. In these situations, the definition of an alcoholic is based more on circumstance than science.
Even professionals are split on the issue. Many experts believe that defining an alcoholic is not their place, and it should be left up to the individual concerned. Others believe that alcoholics are addicts who suffer from a disease. Still others may view alcoholism as a personality disorder or treat it as any other mental illness.
One of these definitions would seem to fit the bill for what defines an alcoholic, but which do you agree with?
How many drinks can one have before they're considered an alcoholic?
How often does someone have to drink for them to be considered an alcoholic?
What diagnostic tests can determine if someone has crossed this line?
Can people who fit into other categories also be defined as alcoholic by some of these standards?
Is there a difference between how people who suffer from an illness and those who don't?
Alcoholism is a serious problem throughout the world. It affects not only those drinking, but their families, friends, and communities as well. Without a proper understanding of what it means to be an alcoholic, this problem will likely continue to see little improvement in years to come.
While it may be difficult to agree on the set definition of an alcoholic, some behavior patterns are useful in deciding if a person has a problem or not.
It should be noted that not all people who drink to excess will exhibit the same patterns as others who drink to excess. Some of the warning signs that might become apparent when someone is drinking too much include:
Other, more severe, problems may follow, including liver and brain problems as well as blood and heart issues. Of all the facts about alcohol, changes in the body are well established.
It should be noted that many medical professionals will base their definition of an alcoholic on the physical problems that they find in the person.
There are many self-help tests and tools available to help those who may be wondering about their own condition as it pertains to drinking. Most of these tools are in the form of simple tests. One of the more popular is the CAGE Questionnaire.
The CAGE Questionnaire asks four questions. Answering yes to two or more of the questions may indicate a problem.
Learning more about the facts about alcohol can help you decide if you or a loved one has a problem. Trying to fit a person into your definition of an alcoholic may not be as useful.
The signs and symptoms of problem drinking vary wildly in some cases, and the best way to get reliable information is to seek the aid of a trained professional.