Addiction to Alcohol/Am I



Drinking makes my life stressful

I am concerned I may be an alcoholic. I am obsessed with getting drunk. I love it. Once I get tipsy I just want more and more until I blackout. Once I feel drunk I almost can't stop and drink to dangerous levels. However this compulsion to drink doesn't start until I get tipsy. For example if I casually have 1 or 2 beers (which I rarely do because I WANT to get wasted when I drink and see having one or two beers as pointless) and don't feel tipsy, I have no problem. I physically can have 1 or 2 drinks I just think it's a waste of time because id rather just get hammered to oblivion, but I know I can do it. Whenever I do have one or two drinks casually, I guess it kinda makes me think about getting drunk but I can do it, it's just no fun and pointless.

Is it possible that I'm an alcoholic even though I'm having this experience with the one or two drink issue, and that I don't lose control until I get tipsy.

Charlie Haviland
Charlie Haviland  
Dear Ed,

Thanks for your question, "Is it possible that I'm an alcoholic even though I'm having this experience with the one or two drink issue, and that I don't lose control until I get tipsy?"

There is a difference between a real alcoholic and a mere problem drinker. The clues in your letter indicate that it is true that you are "possibly" an alcoholic. It is also true that you may be a so-called problem drinker. Lets take a look.

There are two criteria to qualify as an alcoholic: one, when after you pick up the first drink, you cannot reliably predict how much you will drink or when you will stop. You seem to meet this example.

The second qualifier is how do you feel when you have no alcohol in your body? Do you have an obsession to take a drink? Are you restless and irritable most of the time when you don't have booze in your system? Nothing in your letter indicates that I may arrive at such a conclusion.

It is scary to drink until blacking out. We do things under these circumstances that can cause harm to others, including ourselves. But, we must be careful not to confuse consequences from our drinking as symptoms of alcoholism. For example, there are men and women in prison for committing a crime under the influence of alcohol and they are merely problem drinkers. And, there are full blown alcoholics who have never gotten in trouble. If we defined alcoholism by consequences, wealthy folk could claim immunity because the justice system favors those who can afford good lawyers.

Also Ed, your good sensible letter is not typical of an alcoholic reaching out; meaning alcoholics hide behind denial and their hand is usually forced by a judge or significant other. I sometimes get in trouble for saying this, but sometimes folk who drink too much just aren't alcoholics. In your case, there is enough evidence to take a closer look. I see you live in Michigan, as do I, and I am willing to help you with further self-examination, if you're willing.

I hope your are. Please let me know if you are willing as you sound ready to take a further look at yourself. You may reach me here or on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks again for reaching out. Good luck.

Charlie Haviland
Franklin Village, Michigan

Addiction to Alcohol

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Charlie Haviland


I am a recovered alcoholic. My experience in the the addiction recovery process is personal and professional. I am better suited to address questions about alcoholism.


I have been a member of a twelve step fellowship since 1984. I have facilitated a fourteen week, twelve step workshop at Henry Ford Hospital, West Bloomfield, Michigan

I am on the auxiliary staff of the Stepping Stones Foundation- the Historic Home of Bill & Lois Wilson, in Bedford Hills, NY

New York Times, Newsweek, Wired Magazine, Grapevine, Huffington Post, The Detroit News, Detroit Free-Press, Denver Rocky Mountain News, The Denver Post, Denver Lo-Do News, The Oakland Press, Detroit Metro Times, Denver Westword

Michigan certification: FOADP (Fundamentals of Alcohol and Other Drug Problems)

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