Skip to main content

What Is the Difference Between an Alcoholic and a Heavy Drinker?

My father died of alcoholism. He was a wonderful man who was devoured and destroyed by his addiction


What's the difference between an alcoholic and a heavy drinker? I have a friend who is an alcoholism counselor here in the good ole USA, who says that if you have to ask the question, you are probably in trouble. Is this a question that has been lurking at the back of your mind lately? If so, here are some facts that might interest you.

Most people don't think about such things. In fact a Gallup poll done in 2012 found that only 66% of Americans drink any alcohol at all, and those who drink average 4 drinks a week (the preferred beverage being beer). Four beers a week? I know people who spill more than that. Clearly, most of that 66% drinks moderately or occasionally. The dirty little secret of the American liquor industry is that 10% of the drinkers account for 50% of alcohol sales, and those are the folks who drink early and often and almost never in moderation.

Now, we Americans are a pretty puritanical lot, but the point is that most people do not abuse alcohol and therefore never give any thought to whether or not they are drinking too much. They simply know they are not.It's just a small percentage that has anything to worry about and an even smaller percentage that ends up dead or in rehab.

The High School and College Crowd

The statistics are a bit different for the high school and college crowd. Young people between the ages of 16 and 24 drink more than anybody else and are big binge drinkers( a binge being defined as downing more than five drinks in one sitting) This is the time of life for beer bongs and Saturday night keggers, but most people calm down once they are out in the real workaday world and jobs, marriage and children tend to sober them up. Only a few keep on partying into their thirties and beyond-- and at some point, these few start to worry that maybe their drinking is getting out of hand and maybe, just maybe, it is.

A Test for Alcoholism

So what is the difference between a heavy drinker and an alcoholic? The answer seems to lie in the dynamics of addiction. It's a long way from getting soused every Saturday night to skid row, but it is a clear path and a downward spiral and as we all know, alcoholism is a progressive illness. Once you are addicted, there is no place to go but down. Addiction, both physical and psychological, is about loss of control. If, in your secret heart of hearts you have ever feared that your drinking might be getting ahead of you , here are a couple of things you might want to ask yourself.

  1. Have you ever sworn you would not drink and then ended up with a drink in your hand?
  2. Have you ever sat down to have just one beer and ended up drunk?
  3. Has anyone--either at work or a family member, ever commented negatively on your drinking?
  4. Do you assume that everybody drinks and that most people get drunk and that people who don't are no fun to be around?
  5. Do you ever try to hide how much you drink( as in do you ever take those trash cans full of empty's to the dump rather than leave them for the regular collection or do you ever buy your booze at more than one liquor store so that the owners won't think you drink too much?)
  6. Do you drink: every day, alone, or in the morning?
  7. Does the idea of having to live without alcohol seem scary?
  8. Do you physically crave a drink at a certain time of day and get irritable if you can't have one?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you could well be in trouble. Just for the record, moderate drinking is officially defined as: 2 drinks a night for a man, one for a woman and binge drinking is defined as more than five drinks at one sitting. If you spill more than that on Saturday night, or have a family member who does, have a look at the video above and the links at the bottom of this article for a quick overview of the basics on alcoholism.

Think you can quit anytime you want but just like to drink to unwind ? You can prove it to yourself and to the world by taking a little test. I urge you to try the following experiment if you are concerned about your drinking. It is a surefire way to separate the folks who just like to party, from those who are truly abusing alcohol and are on their way to serious abuse and physical addiction. If you have the guts to take on this experiment honestly and with an open mind, you might find out something very interesting about yourself. Wouldn't it be nice to know one way or the other so you could stop worrying?

This test was devised many years ago by the National Council on Alcoholism.

The Alcoholism Experiment

For the next week have no alcohol except for one five ounce glass of wine with dinner. If you don't like wine with your dinner, you can have one 12 oz bottle of beer instead. If you prefer spirits to wine or beer, you can substitute a one and one half ounce shot of whiskey before dinner for the wine or beer but.... you can choose only one of these three options, and once you've chosen you must stick with your choice. You can't change around and have beer one night, wine the next, etc. Also, you cannot skip a night or have nothing one night and two beers the next, etc.

Just fyi, a five oz. glass of wine, a 12 oz glass of beer, and a 1 and 1/2 ounce shot of whiskey all have the same amount of alcohol—so whatever you choose, you will be getting the same amount of alcohol. It's just a question of which appeals to you. Follow these directions exactly—only one drink of whatever you choose for one entire week.

And that folks, is the way you can tell a heavy drinker from an alcoholic. It's a useful test that separates the sheep from the goats very handily. Those who are in even the early stages of addiction will not be able to pass the test. Those who really can take it or leave it will have no problem. What do you think? Want to give it a try, or does the very idea put a meat hook in your tum tum?

Cheers and here's mud in your eye. :-)

References and Sources for Further Reading

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2010 Roberta Kyle


Christopher Peruzzi from Freehold, NJ on May 04, 2017:

Scroll to Continue

Simply put - The former is an addiction on a physical and mental level. The latter is just a desire to drink more - if they can just walk away from a drink, they are just a heavy drinker. If they can't, they're an alcoholic.

The interesting thing is that some people can drink regularly for years and just give it up without being an alcoholic. They just lose interest. I know that happened to me. In my mind, I knew I didn't need to do it anymore and I found no reason to subject my body and mind to the negative effects of drinking. Oh, I drink every so often, but I have bottles of tequila and scotch sitting in my cellar that haven't even been cracked for years.

An alcoholic doesn't know when to stop. They drink to get drunk and they'll keep drinking until they die or get help.

Eride810 on May 03, 2017:

Interesting that your "test" has you drinking one drink per night. That is actually way more difficult than just not drinking for a week, and a much better indicator for sure.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on June 01, 2016:

Wish you good luck, D. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

D Shannahan from Everywhere Man! on May 29, 2016:

Great little article. I will try. Even though I don't feel like drinking right now, maybe start tomorrow xD

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on February 17, 2016:

Hi Debra, good to see you. This little test is very useful and the inability to pass is is a real warning sign not to be dismissed lightly. You are right that alcoholism is a very tricky problem and one hallmark of it is denial. It's pretty easy in the early stages to give yourself excuses. A genuine social drinker will have no trouble having just one drink a night for two weeks..... it may be annoying, but not impossible. Someone working on an alcohol addiction won't be able to do it. Alcoholism is progressive and once your drinking has gotten out of hand, there is nothing for it but to stop drinking entirely. If the idea of that puts a meat hook in your tummy, then please think seriously about checking out AA, which you can do online and totally anonymously. There are also a number of excellent hubs about drinking and alcoholism on Hubpages, some by recovering alcoholics, others by therapists and family members. Thanks for a great comment and for stopping by and reading this hub.

Debra Hargrove from North Carolina on February 16, 2016:

Very good article. I never heard about the test before and would not be able to pass it. It was kind of funny to me. Alcoholism is a very tricky problem if drinking has gotten out of hand. Don't wish alcoholism on anyone.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on June 30, 2015:

Glad you liked it Medical Centre ..... nice website you have as well.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on January 03, 2015:

Thank you for the accolade, lasdoctorlee. I'm blown away by your praise and on my way over to your profile to read a few of your hubs and follow you for sure. Happy New Year to you too and welcome to Hubpages

Liza Treadwell Esq aka Liza Lugo JD from New York, NY on January 03, 2015:

This hub is fantastic; one of the best discussions about the difference between a heavy drinker and an alcoholic. You hit the nail on the head - it's in the dynamics of the addiction. Your responses to your commenters is stellar. You are intelligent and compassionate. God bless you for sharing this with all of us. Voted this hub up, awesome, and interesting.

Wishing you much continued success. Enjoy 2015!

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on November 26, 2014:

That's it in a nutshell, KYE. ..... a simple choice, but not an easy one for sure :-)

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on January 14, 2014:

I agree, gsidley. There is no clear dividing line, but there are certain symptoms that spell danger. Only a small minority of people who drink become physically or psychologically hooked, but for them the consequences can be disasterous over time. There is truth in the old saying that " the alcoholic is the last to know" just because there is no clear dividing line. It is hard to know when you stop riding the dragon and the dragon starts riding you until there is a medical emergency or relationship problems or some other thing that makes it all stand out in clear relief. That's when the heavy drinkers are easily separated from the alcoholics. They stop or moderate their drinking if the stakes are high enough. Real alcoholics are rarely able to easily do so. at least not without help. That's the dividing line.

Dr. Gary L. Sidley from Lancashire, England on January 14, 2014:

An interesting hub. I also like the informal writing style.

I believe there is no clear dividing line between alcoholism and various degrees of consumption. I think we all lie on a continuum of more or less problematic drinking habits.

Voted up.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on December 22, 2013:

good luck, thrifty jim. Will be interested to hear how it works out for you.

thrifty jim on December 21, 2013: went nuts.any way i didn't Starr drinking every night right away.but it led to it.i am going to try the 7 day

off though.

thifty jim on December 21, 2013:

i started drinking at age 38.i just turned 41.i drink 6 pet night,every night.i never start before hasn't effected my work or family life,or my 38 my wife had an affair and i bought a 6 pack 2 weeks later and though i didn't start drinking every single leadnight aslowlyt that time,it slowly to it.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on November 20, 2013:

Good luck to you, Wanderer, and thanks for sharing your experience here.

Wanderer on May 15, 2013:

Thanks for you too, SidKemp and robie2. Thanks for not being judgemental. This is now the fourth day since I have had a drink and I feel better. Funny thing is that I used to drink because I had problems falling asleep, and it helped at first. Then the sleeping problems returned and became much worse. I didn't think that drinking had to do with it. Now, after stopping, I have been very sleepy, not normal sleeping pattern yet but better. Maybe in the future I can use alcohol moderately but for now I'll see how it goes without. Thanks! :)

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on May 14, 2013:

Many thanks to you both, Wanderer and SidKemp, for adding such wisdom and honesty to this comments thread. I can only say I totally affirm both of you and agree with SidKemp's advice. This little test I recommend is only a beginning and designed only to focus those who are worried about their drinking. It is not a black and white diagnosis-- just a tool.

Sid Kemp from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach) on May 12, 2013:

Wanderer - I'm just a friend, not an expert, but I appreciate the honesty of your post and want to share some encouragement. Yes, you are drinking. And you are doing two very good thingsng, as well. You are limiting the quantity, and only drinking at night, after you have finished your day's responsibilities.

Your body has clearly adapted to a daily dose of alcohol. The body will adapt to anything, if it is fed it steadily.

I would suggest that there is nothing wrong with you. At the same time, there is something in your concern.

Suppose you turn it around and say, "I'm okay as I am. But is okay all that I want? Or do I want a life that is wonderful?"

Many who take the challenge of stopping drinking (or other habits) altogether find that, after going through some discomfort or pain, they face issues they've been wanting to avoid, and then they open up to a much more enjoyable, wonderful life. (You might want to check out "The Artists Way" by Julia Cameron, a wonderful guide to becoming more creative (not necessarily an artist - just more creative in life).

wanderer on May 12, 2013:

Hello from Finland, the land of alcohol problems. I'm not in denial, I know I'd struggle to quit drinking altogether so I'm an addict. I happened to pose that same kind of challenge to myself a couple of months ago. I bought a bottle of gin and swore to drink nothing else (with alcohol that is) and see how long it lasts. For over a month I drank around 3/4 ounces of that gin every night. So I guess I may not be an alcoholic, I'm just a heavy drinker. I drink 1-2 shots every night, almost never more, almost never less. I never have hangovers, never have trouble working or doing other stuff I want to.. drinking does not interfere with my life but it still troubles me.. I fear there's something wrong with me.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on March 14, 2013:

Hi Anna and thanks for your comment. Often the person with the problem is the last one to know and indeed, the last person to WANT to know :-) I hope this little test will at least make a few people question their drinking habits. It may also reassure others. The line between problem drinking and social drinking really is hard to define.

Anna Sternfeldt from Svenljunga, Sweden on March 14, 2013:

Great info! I hope many read this and dare to do the test. And after that..having the courage to face the truth. There are some many people suffering "out there". I hope at least a few of them find your hub!

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on August 14, 2012:

Glad you found the hub helpful and thanks for stopping by and leaving such clear and honest comments.

someguy on August 14, 2012:

Thank you for the prompt reply, robie2!

I'm coming to a conclusion that my daily beer drinking (at this stage) might be a very bad habit, and I need to deal with it as such. I noticed that the process of "sipping onto something" is more habitual, because, if I don't drink beer, while I'm working or watching TV, I'm drinking something else - an ice tea or water... even when I reach my beer "limit" per night, I then switch to water.

Well, after writing all my thoughts down and looking closer at my situation, I think I have a pretty clear idea on where I should be and how to approach this issue. I appreciate your help!

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on August 14, 2012:

wow, someguy. I wish I had an answer for you. I don't. It really is hard to know whether " you are riding the dragon or the dragon is riding you" and nobody knows the answer to that question but you. That's what this test is for.

Most people who have really lost control can't pass it or get a meat hook in the tum tum at the idea of even trying and find a reason not to...... And, of course this little test is only one determining factor and is meant to be helpful not a judgement of alcoholism.

Sounds to me like you enjoy your beer but are worried that one day it might get ahead of you. This little test just one way of helping you to figure that out-- nothing more. The only person who can figure out if you are in " full control" is you so keep a watchful eye open and enjoy your beer:-) Thanks for stopping by and commenting so honestly.

someguy on August 13, 2012:

I've been concerned with my drinking habits for quite awhile now... I seldom drink wine and I rarely drink hard liqueur (almost never), but I very much enjoy (love) beer.

I mostly drink US craft and European beers (none of that Budweiser type of nonsense), but I drink a lot and daily. I can have anywhere from 3 to 6 (12oz) bottles during an evening - depending on my mood... I think I average 4 per night. I try to go to gym after work, at least a few times a week (I got a bit overweight - 32y.o. 195lbs at 5'8" height - I need to be at 170-180lbs), and then I work at home (computer type of work) till 9 - 10pm. I even made it every single day to gym for the last 2 months. But never stopped drinking beer.

I've been a moderate beer drinker since about 24 (I'm 32 now). I start drinking at about 5-6pm (while working at home) and I finish at about 10pm. I never get drunk though, I don't have mood swings or blackouts. Consciously, I realize that this is a lot and I shouldn't be drinking this much or this often. I tested myself more than a few times - I would stop drinking for a week or two. Yes, I would crave beer in the evenings, and sometimes it would be on my mind, but in general I was okay. I don't drink early in a day and I don't have any cravings before 5pm either.

My grandfather used to say he was a "beer alcoholic" - he told me that he was drinking a lot of beer in his 30s, but then he got sick with diabetes and couldn't drink because of sugars in beer. But whenever he got a chance to have a beer, he couldn't control himself and would get completely wasted. I, on the other hand, never get wasted - I just stop when I feel that I had enough.

I'm sure that I could pass your test, since I already tried not to drink for a week, having 1 beer a day would be hard though, because I know I need at least 3 to get some kind of satisfaction. Plus, I think it's easier to have nothing at all, rather than 1 beer. My problem is that I don't want to live without beer, I wouldn't want to give it completely up - it's something I really love - I love tasting it, I love discovering new micro-brews, I love reading about the process and watching historic documentaries about beer... I'm not just a drinker - I enjoy it. But I'm afraid I'm overstepping the boundaries between the enjoyment and something else - while still in some control, I realize it became a habit that is hard to change. Somehow I want to keep enjoying it at my will, but be in full control of my actions and not being dependent or sick.

If there is anything you could recommend, it would be great. Thanks again for your advise and informative post.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on July 16, 2012:

Glad you liked it Hendrik DB-- don't let the facts and figures scare you-- they just are what they are and the test is simple.... better the devil that you know than the devil you don't :-)

HendrikDB on July 16, 2012:

Very Good! (and Scary!)

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on July 09, 2012:

I totally agree Dan:-)

Dan on July 09, 2012:

My view is that if someone's drinking makes them mean, unpredictable or embarrassing and changes their behaviour towards you - that's when someone's drinking is a problem.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on June 30, 2012:

:-) thanks for stopping by. I would say alcoholics who are lucky enough to figure out that they are alcoholics and who want to stop drinking go to meetings--heavy drinkers not so much.

Christopher Peruzzi from Freehold, NJ on June 30, 2012:

Great hub. To answer your question: "Alcoholics go to meetings."

Eric L. Andrews from Midwestern United States on June 19, 2012:

Great hub and full of useful information. I am a recovering alcoholic, now nearly six year, four months sober. I would never admit I had a problem, even though I was getting arrested every few months and two of my three kids wouldn't talk to me any longer. I drank at least a fifth of vodka (or something else for a change of pace) daily, and had bottles hidden all over my house and garage. The family knew. Every morning I would get up, feeling like crap, and pledge to not drink that day. By noon, I knew what brand I was buying, where, and what I was going to mix it with. Alcohol was a god that I worshiped. You nailed it with this hub! Thanks for the insight and I hope it makes a difference to one person at least.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on May 31, 2012:

true true Daniel-- and " early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy wealthy and wise" That Ben had lots of good advice:-)

Daniel Thorne on May 31, 2012:

beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy...Benjamin Franklin

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on May 31, 2012:

Good luck with the test, Ryan-- I suspect you'll pass with flying colors, but good to keep an eye on things just in case:-)

Ryan on May 30, 2012:

Good article bookmarked! It's close to midnight no drinks yet but guess I'll start the test tonight with just a beer. I don't think I have physical withdrawals been 24 hours no hand shaking, I'm good in the one to three or four beer range, but once I go past that I lose self control and start chugging down 10 more. Anyways I'll start the test thanks again!

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on May 21, 2012:

Thnks SidKemp, for an excellent comment-- I suspect that all addictions dull the deeper joys of spiritual life and though I never heard anybody make this argument before, I bet you are right, that alcohol, even in modest amounts can dull creativity-- thought I don't know how you could measure that-- anyway. Fascinating point of view and great comment. Thanks for stopping by and voting this up. Much appreciated.

Sid Kemp from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach) on May 19, 2012:

Thanks for telling it straight up and making it easy and simple. This hub helps eliminate excuses that people use to avoid looking in the mirror and asking, "am I an alcholic?" Voted up and useful. I would add that even moderate drinkers, if you are interested in being more alive and creative, might experiment with 6 months alcohol-free. Those who meditate and do yoga find that even a little alcohol once or twice a week dulls the deeper joys of spiritual life.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on May 17, 2012:

why thank you, eric and that was a lovely comment-- thanks:-)

eric-carter from Fulham, UK on May 17, 2012:

Lovely topic and a lovely read - voting up :)

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on April 28, 2012:

Hi William--Of course we all know that one glass of wine or one cocktail a day is good for people.( I think it is literally one for a woman and two for a man)

I certainly don't mean to give the impression that I am against drinking or think that one drink is going to lead anyone to alcoholism. This hub is not about social drinking. It is about figuring out where social drinking ends and alcoholism begins-- something that most genuinely moderate drinkers don't ever worry about, so by process of elimination, most of the comments here are from people who are worried about their drinking on some level or another and are addressing that issue. Nobody is disputing the joys or heath benefits of a beer at the ballgame, wine with dinner, or a drink at a cocktail party-- cheers:-)

williams34 on April 27, 2012:

good comments but 1 to 2 drinks a day are suprisingly healthy for you unless alcoholism was a prior issue. Good for the heart and hey it reduces stress too why not. Look it up :)

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on April 22, 2012:

Hi Jama-- well, I was thinking of puritanical in a broader sense as in sexual mores and making things that really are not moral issues-- but never mind. You are right about beer being safer than water back in the day. And I love the additional question which I think is right on the money. Glad you stopped by and thanks for adding such a great comment to the conversation.

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on April 22, 2012:

Don't know how I missed it the first time, but had to laugh at the irony of "we Americans are a pretty puritanical lot" when, in fact, until the end of the 1900s alcohol in any form was the preferred and safest beverage for Puritans (and non-Puritans, too), because untreated water could be, and often was, a death sentence.

I'd also like to add a question to the list of questions to determine whether or not you're an alcoholic:

#9. Do you feel extremely uncomfortable around, or consciously avoid, people who don't drink because you "sense" their disapproval (even if they never say so)?

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on March 08, 2012:

Sure Candide001-- you can do whatever you want to do. The test isn't for anybody else, it's just for you. If the test was easy for you and you are sure that you don't have a problem, belly up to the bar and the next time you are wondering about your drinking, take it again. Cheers:-)

candide001 on March 08, 2012:

I just passed the 7-day test! Does that mean I can celebrate by going out and getting drunk with a clear conscience?

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on February 25, 2012:

oops sorry-- just noticed all these comments. Thanks to all three of you for reading and commenting.

Daniel, I hear you-- but the one every night for a week is just a test if you want to see if you are getting out of control. Most alcoholics can't or won't do it.

Litliaisons--Yes indeed, they say that one drinking alcoholic seriously affects at least four other people in a significant way. And yes, most alcoholics are in denial not only about how much and how they drink, but also about the negative effects their drinking has on others-- denial is one of the hallmarks of alcoholism.

Robbie Jane-- so, I'm thinking that if you are downing bottles of wine alone before noon on Saturday, you are definitely on your way down the tubes. Feeling bad is no substitute for action. Get help-- there are lots of resources out there--some listed in this Hub. AA meetings and online chats are free and offer lots of information and support. AND they really are anonymous. It's up to you, but I'll tell you one thing-- it isn't going to get better all by itself, and if you think you feel bad now, just wait!

Robbie Jane on February 25, 2012:

So, it's noon on my day off and nobdy is home, I've had most of a bottle of wine.... feel bad about myself!

Litliaisons on February 08, 2012:

Definitely an interesting read. I know someone close to me who struggles with drinking and is definitely in denial about it at times. I think it can be really hard on the people in your life because of how your drinking affects them isn't something they tend to think about. I live in Melbourne, Australia and what you describe as binge drinking is fairly common place for lots of people, on any given night, from the age of 18 upwards. 5 drinks or more on a Fri, Sat night is way too commmonplace for here, unfortunately. It has become a societal norm.

danielthorne on January 31, 2012:

I would rather not drink at all than just drink one before food...that's just a tease...a trap...

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on January 17, 2012:

Well,Kayla, I would say offhand that such a person is definitely not interested in quitting. I'd further speculate that this person probably is an alcoholic but doesn't want to know about that and has just proved to him/herself by taking the test that he/she is just a social drinker. If I were you I would drop it-- you can't change somebody else. If the drinking is a dealbreaker for you find another friend, boyfriend whatever. If this is a parent or spouse, get yourself to Al Anon and get some help.

Kayla on January 16, 2012:

What if they pass the test just to prove your opinion of them being an alcoholic is wrong, but then plastered drunk the next day because its been so long since they've had more than one?

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on October 23, 2011:

Great comment, Jennifer and an awesome, honest share. Congratulations and thanks for taking time to read and share here

Jennifer Theories from Canada on October 22, 2011:

I went to rehab in 1990 and never looked back. For me you either drink or don't and for the sake of my health, wealth and happiness, I decided no drinking was the only route for me.

Great article, awesome topic.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on September 30, 2011:

totally agree, fpherj48, and thanks for sharing your personal experience as a non problem drinker. I'm finding this thread fascinating. It is easy to see who is suffering and who is not over alcohol just by the comments they make

Suzie from Carson City on September 30, 2011:

In my younger days, I drank along with friends...socially. Fortunately, it never became an "issue" and most of us soon made choices as adults whether to drink or not, sometimes, often or never. My decision was basically made for me when I was prescribed a medication I must take where alcohol is contraindicated. So, I simply don't do anything alcoholic. I don't miss it at all. I've dealt with Alcoholics on a personal level though, and I'm convinced NO ONE should drink if there is any chance whatsoever it can get a hold on you. What DEVASTATION it causes.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on September 08, 2011:

Exactly, SarahJG- it is very simple indeed-- but not easy for the person trying to figure it out:-)

SarahJG on September 07, 2011:

Very simple my friend, an alcoholic cannot function in everyday life without the substance, a heavy drinker can disassociate themselves at any point without the great battle

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on September 03, 2011:

Ahhh Tempest-- you are not only intelligent but also able to be honest with yourself which puts you one step ahead of the game--of course you can't stop by yourself just like that-- that's why they call it addiction :-)and I get that you simply cannot imagine your life without alcohol and far from thinking it is a problem, it is all that is holding you together.

I can only say one thing and that is you can't beat it alone. Please check the links to resources in this hub when you are ready to think about quitting. I know that is not now, but this is progressive. It doesn't get better on its own, so if you cannot moderate your drinking on your own, think about getting some help from folks who have been there and know the drill.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing so honestly.

Tempest on September 03, 2011:

I knew I would probably fail this test, however, I found it very informative. I know that I'm a heavy drinker but wanted to know the difference between an "alcoholic" and a "heavy drinker".

Hopefully one day I will be able to beat this, even though I'm doubtful. The reason being is that I suffer multiple diseases and this "seemly" helps, even though, in the long term, I know it doesn't.

The strange part is is that I'm considered a very intelligent person, regardless.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on August 19, 2011:

Thanks shea and jamie. Glad you liked the hub and thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

jamiesweeney from Philadelphia, PA on August 19, 2011:

Well-written article. You compared alcoholic and heavy drinker very well. Like your hub.

shea duane from new jersey on August 18, 2011:

great hub. there is so much alcoholism in my family that I don't drink at all. I don't want to die drunk like so many of my family members have.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on July 21, 2011:

thanks :-)

fashion on July 21, 2011:

Informative hub.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on July 09, 2011:

HI Myi4u-- well I guess that's why they call it addiction LOL. They tried outlawing booze here in the USA and it backfired bigtime sooooooooo I'm for individual responsibility not the lifestyle police-- thanks for stopping by and commenting.

myi4u from United Kingdom on June 07, 2011:

It's really shocking that 48% of adult American don't actually drink! I wonder what's the figure in UK. The drunks have cost millions of pounds every year and because hospitals have to treat excessive drinkers every weekends, they become short of staffs. And therefore, couldn't attend to emergency calls efficiently. Why can't people just drink moderately and behave?

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on May 10, 2011:

Absolutely, zduck-- and when you combine psychological craving with physical withdrawal symptoms, quitting is net to impossible without help. Thanks for sharing your experience

zduckman on May 09, 2011:

The difference is the physiological craving. The phenomenon of craving exists in an alcoholic. I cannot tell you how many times I said , I would just have one. Only to have that one turn in to one more and one more and one more. I have no idea how many times the idea of a quick one on the way home turned into me closing the bar 6 hours later.

A heavy drinker can have just one.....A heavy drinker chooses when they are going to get loaded....and alcoholic ends up loaded saying...DAMN it happened again

at least this has been my experience

Hattie from Europe on April 08, 2011:

Hmm well so many people call it heavy drinking, social drinking, but coming from an alcoholic home myself, I understand how bad it is. Fortunately everywhere I look someone is drinking, they think they don't have a problem, but I feel if you have to have a glass of alcohol, a shot a day, or what ever, you are dependent, and you can call it what ever, but the thing is I can walk anywhere in my town whether rich or poor, I can't escape someone drinking or trying to hand me drink. Even though I don't drink on a regular basis, I understand it can take over your life in a second, cloud your thinking, judgement, choices, there are more problems it can cause including my sanity. If the government took away alcohol, I think all the alcoholics would stand up! :) lol

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on February 16, 2011:

Exactly ! That is the perfect question DaNoblest, only problem is giving oneself an honest answer:-) Congrats on your self honesty and on getting a handle on your drinking.

Thanks for sharing your experience here.

DaNoblest from California on February 14, 2011:

Good hub. My simple question to find out if your drinking too much is...Can you and will you quit drinking for an undetermined amount of time without a second thought or it becoming a struggle? If not then you have a dependency.

One of the best feelings I have had came 2 months after I quit drinking. I realized I had my life back. Before that I was drinking a bottle of whiskey a day. There is nothing wrong with the occasional drink. It is the daily dependency that kills you.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on January 11, 2011:

Glad you liked the hub lyndre, and congratulations on your recovery. Thanks too for sharing it here with all the people who really can't imagine that recovery from alcoholism is possible.

lyndre on January 11, 2011:

Answered yes to every question.:).

Good hub.I am a recovering alcoholic and think the difference is as you said how far down the road you have travelled.

I didn,t start drinking alcoholicly but eventually went down the slippery slope of no return.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on December 07, 2010:

Hi Cleo-- thanks for sharing all that and I hope the chicken was good and your BF is feeling better. That said, sounds like you have some concerns about your drinking and are afraid it is getting out of hand. Maybe you know on some level, that you could not pass the little test in this hub and have mixed feelings about trying it.

Instead of the test, I'd suggest that you google "alcoholism" to read up on the disease and get some ideas about how it works. There are also forums and chat rooms online that can give you information.

Please don't feel guilty or ashamed or think you are weak. It isn't about weakness of character, it is about physical addiction and a very powerful urge. Just get more information and then you can decide whether or not you have a problem and whether or not you want to stop.

Thanks for reading and commenting and Good luck to you

Cleo on December 06, 2010:

Wow... I decidedly know I drink more than I should, particularly also as I am on anti-anxiety pills... but the idea of being in DTS.. horror... I just turned 30 - started drinking moderately at 21 and more frequently since....

Scary stuff :< but... idk

sometimes i feel normal

sometimes I feel guilt....

In Prague - they don't have this concept. Not to say not acknowledging a problem doesn't make it true.

[sigh] ;<

I grew up w/ a dad who drank beer regularly (not to excess) and a mom who EXCEPTIONALLY rarely drank... my twin got us all into wine... and very negative circumstances may have lead to me drinking more than I should.... Am i Just pathetically weak?

(this asked after 3 glasses of wine during the course of preparing chicken and rice soup for my wonderful BF who has the cold and then doing the dishes).....


Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on October 06, 2010:

Hi Tristand-- glad you liked it and thanks for stopping by. yup we all need to examine the routines we take for granted now and then:-)

tristand on October 05, 2010:

Hi Robie, great hub. I'm not a heavy drinker, but this really makes you think and examine the routines you take for granted.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on September 27, 2010:

HI John and thanks for taking the time to comment. Congratulations on those 12 years-- that's twelve years you wouldn't have had if you had kept drinking I bet-- or at least would not have good memories of.

John on September 27, 2010:

12 years of sobriety under my belt...I look back on all the years I wasted (pardon the pun) and wish I had them back.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on September 16, 2010:

Hi Mark-- and I am so flattered that you wanted to re-read this hub and congrats on your sobriety. So many do not recover-- the freedom is a real gift.

Mark Bruno from New Jersey Shore on September 15, 2010:

Robie, here I am again, I just wanted to re-read this hub. The more I re-read the happier I am that I surrendered to this horrible addiction. All 8 points were me to the tee. I'm so glad I quit when I did.

Thanks again Robie and thanks for sharing., Its always a pleasure reading your hubs.


Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on June 16, 2010:

thanks clean life-- hmmmm I think that kind of praise coming from someone living a clean life is a real compliment. Glad you stopped by and took the time to comment.

Mark Bruno from New Jersey Shore on June 16, 2010:

Thanks Robie for the great Hub. Nice job and great information, I really liked the video, excellent!

gidtset on June 10, 2010:

Thanks for a really good hub. I totally agree with you regarding the list "A Test for Alcoholism". Here in Denmark nearly 5% of our population has a huge problem drinking to much alcohol.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on June 09, 2010:

thanks billnad for taking the time to read and comment. I too hope this is helpful to those who are wondering about their drinking--it can be hard to tell, especially in the early stages of Alcoholism, whether one is out of control or not and that little test is the best thing I know of to really find out-- of course it only works for those who want to know the answer LOL

billnad on May 31, 2010:

This is a really important issue and wow did you cover it well. The list at the end of howto to tell if you are having a problem as well as the resources was great to have as a reference for many people.

I myself only drink alcohol occasionally and even then it is only one beer but remember all the alcohol problems that I had when I was yonger makes me realize that this is a great place to point many people to

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on April 08, 2010:

Thanks Solarshingles--you make a good point. I was surprised to find that such a small percentage of American drinkers accounted for such a large percentage of alcohol sales. I suppose it is the same all over the world. Thanks for stopping by.

solarshingles from london on April 08, 2010:

A drunk are a good bet for someone who owns a restaurant-- it is very sad and when you are serving people you figure out very quickly the difference between an alcoholic and a heavy drinker. Good hub. Good information and the test is really an honest one.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on April 04, 2010:

And thank you mwatkins for taking the time to read and comment.... much appreciated and I'm looking forward to your hubs too:-)

mwatkins from Portland, Oregon & Vancouver BC on April 04, 2010:

Thank you for taking the time to write about this. I found you to be thorough and direct and factual. The vid was a great choice, too! I look forward to reading more f your hubs! Thanks again! ;-)

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on March 24, 2010:

Thanks Mockazoom, for sharing your personal experience. I too wish more people could stop sooner, but, of course, denial is a big part of alcoholism and in fact the majority of alcoholics die from complications of the disease-- so you are one of the lucky ones, I guess.

Ricky from Torrance, CA on March 24, 2010:

Great article being that I an am alcoholic myself and that last paragraph can really tell you if you are Drunk like me, I wish more people could get honest with them selfs and just stop for the rest of there lives, In AA and the support program there is the olny way I have found to stay dry and folks like youo that are here to help, Thank you

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on March 19, 2010:

Thanks, Just About It. Your approval makes me feel especially good since I know you specialize in witing about health and related subjects so thanks for reading and commenting. I'll be watching your hubs too as I just became your newest follower:-)

Just About It from southern CA on March 19, 2010:

Outstanding written hub with great information.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on March 19, 2010:

Thanks for dropping by and commenting and for reminding me that all addictions have certain characteristics in common.

Stephanie Marshall from Bend, Oregon on March 19, 2010:

I know all sorts of people with various addictions, and this hub really nails it with respect to alcohol. Great information and food for thought. Hopefully someone with a problem or who knows someone who has a problem will get some help!

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on March 19, 2010:

Hi Alek and thanks for the comment. I'm glad you liked the hub. There is so much mis information around I just wanted to set the record straight-- problem is people who really could benefit from the information are the last ones to make use of it. Denial is powerful.

Nancy Hinchliff from Essex Junction, Vermont on March 19, 2010:

Really good hub. I have never seen this test either. I don't drink, but there have been times when I was worried about my sister. I would send her the questions, but don't want to start an argument.

Related Articles