I spent years leading up to starting this blog, and months afterwards, wrestling with this one. I wrote three posts on the subject.
If you're anything like me, you will have Googled the question many times, and spent ages doing (and then re-doing) those questionnaires which claim to give you the magic answer that will define the rest of your life.
Nobody wants the answer to be 'yes'.
Because we all think we know what the 'alcoholic' looks like: the sad old bag lady who's drunk away her job and home, lost her family and had to reach 'rock bottom' before she was forced to quit and live half an existence without life's best reward: booze.
It took me a while to work out that it's all bollocks.
I simply don't believe that the world is divided into two types of people; 'normal drinkers' and 'alcoholics,' with those roles assigned at birth, in the same way as there are no 'normal smokers' and 'nicotinaholics', or 'normal heroin users' and 'heroinaholics.'
Alcohol is like any other addictive poison. Take enough of it for long enough, and you'll end up out of control.
Some people are more predisposed to becoming addicted, and this predisposition can be hereditary, but anyone who drinks excessively is playing Russian roulette.
So the question you should really be asking is 'am I addicted to alcohol?'
The answer to that question is pretty easy, isn't it?
If alcohol is starting to control you, rather than you controlling it, then you're addicted.
If you keep drinking when you really want to stop (or cut down), then you're addicted.
If you're behaving in ways you really don't mean to, and if alcohol is taking up way more space in your head than it should, then you're addicted.
So then what?
Well, once you're addicted to something you always will be, because of the way addiction rewires the dopamine receptors in your brain. And if you carry on 'using', it's only going to get worse.
(You'll find that you can quit for days, weeks, or even months at a time, but as soon as you start drinking again 'in moderation', the amount you're consuming creeps rapidly back up until you're drinking even more than you were before).
You wouldn't tell a heroin addict to carry on shooting up 'in moderation', would you? Or a gambling addict to just go to the races at weekends?
The truth is, any addiction will control, and ruin, your life if you don't step away from it permanently.
Don't wait until you get to 'rock bottom'. That would be madness! Because the more time your addiction has to take hold, the harder it is to break. Stop now, while it's still (relatively) easy.
And the good news?
Once you quit you're not condemned to a terrible life of a deprived alcoholic forever envying the 'normal drinker'. No!
When you stop you free yourself of a chronic addiction that was ruining your life! You go back to being the person you were always meant to be.
YOU will be the normal one, not the millions of people gradually slipping down the slope you've just scrambled off.
I still don't define myself as an 'alcoholic'. I was (am) addicted to alcohol. No shame in that - it's a terribly addictive substance.
But I had the wisdom and the courage to realise the problem and quit while I still could.
And now I am free. And so can you be.
Big hugs to you all,