Where is the fine line that separates a regular drinker from an alcoholic? Is there really a difference? Some questionnaires and brochures attempt to ascertain for people whether or not they are an alcoholic. The problem is, the questions on the advertisements may not be answered truthfully by someone who is looking at it subjectively. They believe their problems are caused by everything but their drinking. Other people, world events or just bad luck are responsible for their misfortune. Most often, they will continue drinking until something drastic happens that will cause them to examine their drinking. They may rationalize it, blame others or just refuse to admit they have a problem. That fine line may be invisible to the problem drinker. It’s hidden because they refuse to see it. That is denial.
If you are genuinely wondering about your drinking and willing to look at it objectively, there are ways to determine if you have a problem. If alcohol is causing you problems, and you continue to drink anyway, then you’ve got a drinking problem. That is so simple, yet so difficult for some people to grasp. Most problem drinkers make bad decisions when they drink, and it can become a cycle that is very difficult to break. They drink heavily, which leads to bad decisions, which, in turn, leads to more trouble that they don’t need.
Not everyone who experiences an unfortunate incident while under the influence has a drinking problem. People make mistakes. However, when a person continues making mistakes that are the result of drinking, and chooses to go ahead and keep drinking, that’s when they’ve crossed the line. The major problems aren’t because they’re unlucky; they’re not a victim of circumstances; the world is not out to get them; or any other possible excuses they might tell themselves. The problems are because they drink too much, which leads to bad decisions, and they keep on drinking. If they could stop drinking, many of their problems would go away or be mitigated. There is a saying, “I didn’t get in trouble every time I drank, but every time I got in trouble, I’d been drinking.”
If any of this sounds like someone you know and care about, suggest they seek help from Psychological Services Bureau at (213) 738-3500. You have the option to speak to me (the Substance Abuse Resource Program coordinator) or one of our law enforcement psychologists. As always, it can be anonymous and confidential. You may also seek out a Peer Support Program member, a chaplain or a Peace Officer’s Fellowship member listed in the attached directory. With help, your life can change one step at a time.