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Crossing The Thin Line


Have you ever wondered how much is too much drinking? Social drinking is an accepted part of life, and it’s hard to know when the thin line to alcoholism is crossed. There are many factors–genetic, psychological, social, and environmental–that play a role in alcohol addiction. If you have wondered about what the right amount of drinking is, looking at drinking patterns is important.


Defining Social Drinking


What we call “social drinking” changes, depending on fads and fashions. Generally, social drinkers use alcohol to relax and increase good feelings. It’s easy for them to limit drinking. Many people say they are social drinkers, and yet cannot imagine dinner or a bad day without alcohol. Some of these people are alcoholics. Some examples of social drinking: Martha and Tom generally have beer around the house. Between the two of them, it takes a week to get through a six pack. Sharon enjoys a glass or two of wine when she has friends over for dinner. Bill tends to drink more frequently during the holiday season but rarely drinks during the rest of the year.


Crossing The Line


It’s often difficult for people to tell when they’re crossing the line into dependency. Generally, you are crossing the line if you:

  • use alcohol to help you get through painful situations or feelings.
  • ever defend or hide your drinking; can’t remember what happened after drinking a little too much.
  • resent other people’s advice who want you to drink less; drink alone.
  • have problems you’ve had trouble solving due to your drinking.
  • change in tolerance to alcohol.


Look At Yourself


If you’ve wondered about your own drinking, look at yourself honestly. Ask yourself why, how often, and in what situations you drink. Think about the effects of your drinking on other people: your spouse, children, co-workers, friends. Look at whether you drink more or less than others. Consider whether you’ve ever driven under the influence of alcohol.


If You’re Concerned About Someone Else


One way to evaluate someone else’s drinking is to look at your own behavior. Do you make excuses for the drinker? Have you ever been asked to lie about his or her drinking? Ask yourself why, how often, and in what situations he or she drinks. If you are still concerned about your own drinking or someone else’s, speak to your Employee Assistance Program, or an alcohol rehabilitation program. They can help you evaluate whether someone you care for is crossing the thin line to alcoholism.

Memorial Hospital, USA. Retrieved 10 August 2008 from