Does Drinking Every Day Make Me an Alcoholic?

Does having a cocktail or glass of wine every night make you an alcoholic?

Every evening when you get home from work, you drink a glass of wine. Throughout the day, you look forward to this evening ritual.

Although, tonight, as you swallow that first sip, you suddenly realize something. You’ve been drinking every day for as long as you can remember. With that realization, a little voice in your head might start wondering: Am I an alcoholic?

You can rest assured that alcohol addiction hotlines are staffed with compassionate individuals who are there to help – a friendly, judgment-free, helpful voice awaits those who call.

Drinking to Unwind Or Drinking Problem

According to a recent article in Men’s Health, George Koob, Ph.D., believes having a drink or two every night isn’t an absolute indication you’re headed for trouble. In fact, there’s very little data about one or two drinks negatively impacting your health or hastening your decline into alcoholism.

However, there are limitations. Koob recommends some restrictions, such as:

  • Keeping each drink within the NIAAA’s definitions of minimum (typically a standard drink contains 0.6 fluid ounces)
  • Maintaining a total weekly intake below 14 drinks (anything over this amount elevates your risk of an alcohol use disorder)

The Difference Between Dependence and Addiction

But how do you know if you’re addicted to alcohol or simply just dependent on it?

Koob states, “Even if you find yourself feeling irritable or antsy when you miss your evening drink, that’s not a sign that you’re addicted, per se.”

“Dependence often goes hand in hand with addiction, but they’re not the same things,” he explains.

“You can become dependent on almost any substance if it’s part of your daily rhythm, but that doesn’t mean you’re addicted.”

He points out you would feel the exact same way – irritable and antsy – if you normally ate dinner at seven but pushed your meal to later in the evening.

When it comes to sleep, eating, and any kind of substance, “anything that disrupts your normal routine is going to put you on edge, but that’s not an indication you have a use disorder,” Koob adds.

A Few Warning Signs

There are certain situations that should cause concern, such as:

  • A family history of alcoholism
  • Slamming down your first drink of the day in one or two gulps
  • Using alcohol as a coping mechanism

Finally, and most importantly, according to Koob, if there’s any indication your social, personal, or professional life has been negatively impacted by alcohol, take that as a reliable sign that you have a problem and need to make some changes to your lifestyle.

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