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ARE YOU ALCOHOL

DEPENDENT?

WHAT DOES "ALCOHOL DEPENDENCE" MEAN?

To depend on something means to count on it, to rely on it, to need it. It means things don't go right without it.

To be Alcohol Dependent means you need to drink to have things go right.

 

DOES ALCOHOL DEPENDENCE MEAN THE SAME THING AS ALCOHOLISM?

Alcoholics are certainly alcohol-dependent. But they're not the only ones with this problem. While alcoholics are usually dependent on drinking to handle everything, many people are only dependent on alcohol in certain situations.

 For example, I might be dependent on alcohol to socialize. That means that I need to drink in order to enjoy myself at parties. Or I might be dependent on alcohol to handle depression. That means that when I get depressed I drink to "pull myself out of it."

 

WHAT'S WRONG WITH DRINKING AT PARTIES? I LIKE TO HAVE MY FRIENDS AT PARTIES. THAT DOESN'T MAKE ME DEPENDENT ON THEM. LIKING TO HAVE A FEW DRINKS THERE IS THE SAME THING.

 It may or may not be the same thing. Look at it this way: There's nothing wrong with liking to have a friend at a party. But if you had to have him there, meaning the party would be ruined if he didn't show up, you can see how that would be a problem.

 In the same way, many people might enjoy a drink at a party. But if the party was ruined because you didn't have one, something is wrong.

 There are some things any healthy person ought to be able to do on their own, that they shouldn't need help to do. Being comfortable and enjoying themselves is one of these things. If I can't do this, I am "handicapped."

 

I DON'T THINK THAT I NEED TO DRINK. I JUST LIKE TO DO IT.

 Unfortunately, that's just what "needing to drink" feels like. It doesn't feel like you HAVE to drink, it just feels like you WANT to drink.

 Think of it like hunger. You need to eat. You have to eat. But when you get hungry it doesn't feel like you are being forced to do something against your will. Quite the opposite. When you're hungry, eating is something you'd very much like to do.

 Same thing with alcohol dependence. It's not as though the drinker doesn't want to drink---but somehow has to. On the contrary, having a drink feels like a great idea.

 

SO HOW DO YOU FIND OUT IF YOU'RE ALCOHOL DEPENDENT?

 The best way is not to drink in situations where you normally drink and see what happens.

 For example, if you usually drink at parties, try going to the next three or four without drinking. See if you can do it. More importantly, see if you still enjoy yourself. If these "dry" parties are boring or tense, this is a pretty good sign that you're socially dependent on alcohol.

 If you usually drink with friends, try socializing with them for the next couple of months without drinking.

See how it goes.

 

IT STILL DOESN'T SEEM LIKE THAT BIG A DEAL…

 Knowing how to enjoy yourself, handling tough situations, dealing with boredom or depression---these are SKILLS that everyone needs to have. You acquire them the same way you gain any skill-through practice. And you lose them if you don't use them.

 It's like the ability to speak Spanish or play a sport. If you don't practice a lot you'll never get good. And if you stop practicing, you lose your edge.

 The world is full of people who are lost in a social situation if they don't have alcohol. Or who can't handle a crisis without a few drinks. Or who are bored or depressed if they are deprived of alcohol for a few weeks.

 These people are crippled. They are not complete people.

 They weren't born that way. Some of them started drinking during adolescence, when they should have been learning how to socialize and handle feelings. Alcohol did the job for them, so they never learned how to do it themselves. Twenty or thirty years later they still don't know how to do things every adult ought to be able to do.

 Other people once knew how to do these things but have gotten rusty through lack of practice. For them, functioning without drinking is like speaking a language they haven't used for ten or twenty years. They have forgotten how to do it.

In the end, it boils down to what sort of person you want to be: whole or crippled. You should know that alcohol dependence gets worse as time goes on. Many people who, for example, once just needed alcohol to party now need it to do just about everything. And they are usually the last people to know their true condition.

 You know people like this. You need to decide if you want to become like them.

 

IF I'M ALCOHOL DEPENDENT DOES THAT MEAN I HAVE TO STOP DRINKING ENTIRELY?

Perhaps not. Some people are able to reverse sloppy or thoughtless drinking habits and "get it under control." Others find that any drinking eventually leads to too much drinking.

Why not talk it over with someone who knows about drinking difficulties. Help is confidential, free and close by. No lectures, no pressure, no hassles.



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