The following question and answer recently appeared in the Ask Amy column in the Washington Post. We thought our readers would be interested because the question speaks to another aspect of drinking: What if you worry not about your own drinking, but about the drinking of someone you love? Do you agree with Amy’s advice, or would you offer some different thoughts?
DEAR AMY: Is there a difference between a heavy drinker and an alcoholic?
My husband goes through two cases of beer and two to four bottles of liquor every month (by himself) and usually has a minimum of three drinks every day. As soon as he walks in the door, he heads for the liquor cabinet.
In his favor, he always stops drinking once dinner is on the table (unless we are eating out, in which case he drinks a bottle of wine).
He rarely gets drunk; I can count the number of times I’ve seen him drunk in our 15 years together. He doesn’t pass out, and it hasn’t affected his ability to work. But he does get loud and can be argumentative after a few drinks.
I am very worried, frustrated and irritated by his drinking. I’ve asked him to quit — or at least cut back — many, many times. Sometimes he will go a day or two without drinking, but in no time, he’s back to his usual routine.
Is he the one with the drinking problem, or am I? — Worried Wife
DEAR WIFE: Your husband’s drinking is causing problems in your relationship, and I venture that you spend more time worrying about and compensating for his drinking than you even realize.
It’s evident that you are counting his drinks, carefully marking his consumption, watching his reactions and monitoring his behavior. No doubt you avoid some social situations, don’t make after-dinner plans and always drive after a night out.
Now that you’ve inventoried his drinking, take an honest inventory of the impact his alcohol use has on you and your relationship.
Then take yourself to an Al-Anon meeting. You’ll learn that distinctions between being a heavy drinker and an alcoholic don’t really matter. What matters are the choices you make for yourself. Check Al-anon.alateen.org for a local meeting.