This has been a prevailing view for a long time, and though this statement may seem dramatic to some, it does have some basis in reality. We know from our own clinical experience that there are people who develop severe alcohol drinking patterns and behaviors such as the ones just described.
These are true alcoholics. These are the almost alcoholic. Anyone who drinks heavily is at risk for adverse health consequences, but some people appear to face a heightened risk for developing alcohol-related health problems.
The reason appears to be largely biological, though environmental factors also likely play a role in this difference. Researchers have found, for example, that people differ in how their bodies metabolize alcohol. Since our biological make up is determined at birth, there is some truth in the idea that we have certain traits that make us more or less vulnerable to the effects of alcohol.
As noted earlier, the majority of this larger group came to us not because they were concerned or because others had expressed concern about their drinking but for help with some other problem. The connection between the problems they sought help for and their drinking emerged later.
Jennifer, 41, was married with two children, an eleven-year-old son and a nine-year old daughter. She had a middle management job in a large real estate development and management company, while her husband, Dan, worked in the information technology department of a large university. As was true for most of the couples they knew, they struggled with balancing the demands of work with those of parenting, not to mention housekeeping. Dan and Jen had met in college during their junior years and married a year after graduating.
Jen did not drink at all during her pregnancies. That meant unloading the kids, making dinner, supervising homework, getting ready for the next day, and so on. Then, after the kids were in bed, Jen would have a second glass of wine, and sometimes a third. She told Adult seeking real sex ND Burnstad 58495 that for a of years this was an effective way for her to release the stress that built up over the course of the day.
She also felt that the third glass of wine helped her sleep better. When Jen sought therapy, it was not because of her drinking—which she still regarded as normal, and indeed helpful, given her high-pressure lifestyle. Jen was referred by her primary care physician, with whom she had shared her concerns about not sleeping well. The doctor said she would consider that, but first she wanted Jen to talk with a counselor. Jen is a good example of this large group of people whom we have come to know well in our offices, people whose drinking emerges as a factor in their presenting problems.
She did not make an appointment with a counselor because she was worried about her drinking. She would not have enough of the symptoms to meet the accepted criteria for any of the alcohol-related diagnoses.
She was not someone for whom one drink was never enough. Nor did she drink frequently enough to maintain a certain level of alcohol in her body. And so on. Yet she was clearly experiencing symptoms—such as disturbed sleep, chronic fatigue, depression and outbursts of anger-that true alcoholics often report.
The answer, for Jen, was that at some point she had crossed over the line that separates normal social drinking from almost alcoholic drinking. The good news, for her, was that this discovery became an opportunity to reassess her drinking along with the stress that seemed to be driving it and make some decisions.
In the end, she made some changes not only about her drinking, but also about how to cope with the stresses she faced and how to create some balance in her life. Marcus, nineteen, had done well in high school despite struggling with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ADHD.
When your opponent lands his or her ball in your beer you have to drink it all. Then another round begins. Marcus found games like beer pong fun. It was socially acceptable and an easy way for him to overcome his shyness. Being drunk also made it easier for him to talk to girls, which further reinforced his behavior.
By the middle of his second semester at school, though, Marcus was in danger of flunking one course and was barely passing three others. To make matters worse, after drinking way too much one Friday night at a fraternity party, he got into a fight with a guy who thought Marcus was flirting with his girlfriend. Words were exchanged, but instead of it ending there, Marcus shoved the guy and then punches were thrown. Fearing it could lead to a brawl, someone dialed for the campus police.
Marcus is another example of someone who has crossed the line and entered the grey area of almost alcoholic drinking. Did this young man see the connection between the negative consequences he was seeing and his drinking behavior? The only reason he sought counseling was because, in Come drink n meet for real of a suspension for the rest of that semester, Marcus was offered the option of enrolling in an anger management program at the student counseling center. This is a typical intervention, and not at all unique to Marcus.
This is more evidence that almost alcoholics have until now remained a largely invisible segment of the population. Research consistently Come drink n meet Adult seeking real sex ND Burnstad 58495 real that people tend to drink the heaviest in their late teens and early-to-mid twenties.
Young adults, both male and female, are especially likely to binge drink. For some of these youths, such drinking may lead to other serious problems. For example, some studies have shown that a region in the brain associated with learning and memory—the hippocampus—is smaller in people who began drinking as adolescents. And studies of teens who were treated for alcohol withdrawal showed that they were more likely to have memory problems than adolescents who did not drink. It is not uncommon for students to get drunk to the point of passing out.
Because of that social context, and also because his drinking was mostly limited to weekends, Marcus viewed his own drinking as normal. He thought he was just doing what a lot of other students did, so how could he have a drinking problem?
The reality is that most college students who binge on alcohol will pass through this phase and emerge in adulthood as normal social drinkers. Some of the heaviest drinkers may suffer some memory or learning problems connected to their earlier alcohol use, though they may never make this connection themselves. A few will go on to become full-blown alcoholics. And some, like Marcus, will become almost alcoholics.
All by themselves, they would not have qualified him for diagnosis of alcoholism. Things could well have continued to go downhill from there.