I feel that the topic of ‘problem drinker’ is necessary to mention due to a vast number of people falling into this category as opposed to ‘alcoholic’. That is to say that they have not yet crossed the invisible line which leads to addiction.The problem drinker however, will experience difficulties with a combination of problems in four areas.

Social– Relationships will suffer as a result of abusive drinking. Marital partners may discover that their partner is more interested in drinking than being with them. The sedating effect of alcohol can be used to create a psychic screen to avoid intimacy or problems requiring their attention. As a result, the drinker’s perception,interest and judgement may be impaired. At the opposite end of the spectrum is the person who becomes violent while drinking and demonstrates marked personality change that includes destructive tendencies. This kind of drinker has no business ever touching alcohol and should seek help.

Financial– Money needed for essentials is spent on drinking or its consequences. Drinking heavily in bars or clubs can be expensive and a toxic individual is not likely to be concerned about the money he spends.

Employment– Job performances may deteriorate and absences may increase. Drinkers may use alcohol at work to relieve boredom and safety needs are often neglected.

Legal– An alcohol related arrest such as drunk driving will have a direct impact upon their livelihood as well as the drinker who causes accidents but avoids arrest. These sorts of drinkers have no business ever consuming alcohol and should seek help, whether or not they are addicted.

It should be evident from the above descriptions that behavioural changes are the most significant indicator in this stage that an individual is being affected by his or her drinking.Often the signs are subtle, as in the slowly escalating indifference the drinker displays to the needs of others as he sits, night after night, with a glass in his hand. What at first may be excused as a desire to ‘unwind’ in time becomes away of disappearing, of relating more to alcohol than human beings.

As this kind of drinking behaviour becomes a habit,the person’s thinking is invaded by concern with getting a drink and maintaining a supply.These behaviours, attitudes and habits add up to psychological dependence on alcohol.

Increasingly the individual needs and looks forward to drinking as a means to make life more tolerable. Drinking can become a way of filling or killing time. Although the signs at the beginning of this process are subtle, the individual who can be made aware of the dangers will have an easier time changing their drinking habits and behaviours now other than if it continues into a more advanced stage.

In progressing from problem drinking into addictive drinking, chemical dependency, the individual passes through an invisible line that indicates an increase in tolerance for the drug alcohol. Drinkers do not recognise the change when it occurs, they realise only later, in retrospect, that their drinking changed significantly at this point.

The problem drinker should be encouraged to seek help indefinitely and discover the road to recovery.

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