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Happy Alcoholic Still Creates Problems
is a myth that suggests a personís excessive drinking is not consequential to
him or herself or those around them, if they remain in good mood.
realty, excessive alcohol consumption can be very harmful to self and others,
regardless of oneís mood or attitude towards the drinking.
of alcohol consumption include light, moderate, heavy, abusive, and binge. These
categories are differentiated by quantity of standard alcoholic beverages
consumed and pattern of consumption. While some persons may believe that beer is
less consequential than wine and that both are less consequential than liquor,
this is but another myth. A beer yields the same alcohol equivalent as 4 ounces
of wine and the same alcohol equivalent as an ounce of liquor. Hence it really
doesnít matter what form the alcohol comes in, just the number of standardized
definition for men, approximately 6 standard alcoholic beverages per week is
categorized as light drinking, 12-14 as moderate, 24-26 as heavy and 36 or more
as abusive. Rates for women are calculated as being about 2/3ís that of men.
Furthermore, abusive drinking infers that that level of consumption places the
drinker at a high likelihood of contracting an alcohol related physical
disorder, such as liver disease, diabetes and Korsakovís syndrome. It is
noteworthy that any level of regular drinking increases the risk of these and
other associated diseases, but that the more alcohol consumed on a regular
basis, the greater the risk.
drinking is defined as five or more standard alcoholic beverages at least once
per month on a monthly or so basis. The risks associated with binge drinking are
injury and death, the result of misadventure, accident/poor judgement, loss of
consciousness, falls and violence.
terms of impact on self and others, reaching criteria for any level of drinking
increases the risk of academic, vocational, social, familial or marital
problems. Further, children of parents who consume alcohol to the point of
reaching criteria for any level are at risk of social and school related
problems during their childhood as well as social, vocational, marital and
parenting problems in their adulthood.
does not matter if the regular drinker is of good or poor mood, the result of
their consumption, only that they reached criteria for being categorized as a
regular drinker at any level. Drinking, in and of itself increases risk of poor
outcomes for self and others.
when adult children of alcoholic parents enter counselling for martial, social
or vocational problems, they may have a very difficult time understanding the
relationship between their parentís drinking and current issues. Further,
parents who bring their children to counselling for social or academic problems
may resist and have difficulty believing or accepting that parental alcohol
consumption is a contributing factor to their childís problems.
the very least, regular alcohol consumption by a parent is time away from
relating with the children and provides a role model of acceptability for
regular alcohol consumption. This role model is often the jumping off point for
the child-come-teenís alcohol consumption and not a marker of the limit of
consumption. Hence teens of parents who consume alcohol on a regular basis are
at risk of greater consumption and alcohol related problems. Family members of
even the happy alcoholic will worry about their drinking and driving, health
problems, finances, vocational stability and relationship issues.
If you are facing difficulties with your child, or you are an adult facing difficulties in your life now, take a look at alcohol consumption patterns in your family. If there is a happy or unhappy alcoholic, chances are that is contributing to the problem and this needs to be explored and addressed.
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
Call Gary for your next conference and for expert opinion on family matters. Services include counselling, mediation, assessment, assessment critiques and workshops.
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
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