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What is the definition of an alcoholic

Written By

Dr. Bill Stafford, Ph.D.

Senior Hypnotherapist Instructor

Briefly Speaking

Wondering are you an alcoholic? Find out what the definition of an alcoholic is and what to do if you are.
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The definition of an alcoholic is someone who suffers from a dependence on alcohol. Sooner or later, most of us become dependent upon some substance; sugar, coffee, diet soft drinks.  Where does it end?

The term “alcoholic” has been classified as a disease; however, in my opinion, it is not.  You cannot catch it.  It is neither contagious or communicable.  ”Alcoholic” is a term insurance companies and physicians use to classify a behavior as a disease or disorder in order for them to be paid.  The definition of an alcoholic is an individual who has made poor choices in terms of when, how much, and how often he or she will indulge in the use or misuse of alcohol. After awhile these choices simply become bad habits.  Over long periods of consistent and continuous alcoholic abuse, physical damage will occur in the human body and organs. 

When my wife died many years ago in my arms, I became a heavy drinker.  I went to work everyday, but each night I drank heavily.  On the weekends I really “poured it on”; pardon the pun!  This went on for years.  I discovered the following revelations:

  1. I was a functional drinker.  I could drink all night and somehow function at work the next morning.


  2. People drink for effect, taste, or both.
  3. I drank for effect. I missed my wife.  I was guilty I could not save her from an early death.
  4. Soon I discovered the Frozen Toasted Almond and the Pina Colada.
  5. Then I drank for effect and taste. Over time I gained 80lbs, while ruining my organs.
  6. This behavior went on for years. 

I diagnosed myself as a “drunkard” not an “alcoholic”; if you are wondering are you an alcoholic, herein lies the difference: if you drink to the point of passing out every night, and when you awaken in the morning your hands are trembling uncontrollably yet you must have a “shot of the dog” before you urinate.  Your drinking is out of control!  You body is being poisoned.  The shaking is a flare a warning to stop. If you miss work because you are drunk more than twice in your lifetime, your drinking is out of control.  When alcohol become more important than family, career, and everything else in your life, you need to come to terms with your condition.  

Alcohol, like food, is not the problem.  The “problem” is the problem.  Alcohol is the “medicine” we use to treat ourselves to oblivion. It is a poor choice!  

I once saw a patient as a referral from a psychiatrist; he had been diagnosed as an “alcoholic.”  His doctor told him he must remove all alcohol from his home; he could never be around alcohol. Never; not at a party, wedding, etc.  When I burst out laughing, he of course wondered, “Why?”   I replied, “I used to weigh 80 pounds more than I do now.  Does than mean I can never attend another buffet dinner?”  He got the point.  Do you? 

Alcohol, drugs, and eating disorders are not diseases. They are not the “problems”; the underlying causes of these behaviors are the real problems. They can however become out of control obsessions that require treatment programs.  If you recognize alcohol has taken control of your life, seek professional help. This article contains the opinion of a former drunkard. 

I cleaned up and got straight and healthy through the use of hypnosis.  Now when I entertain and a lady asks me to pour her a glass of wine, I do so.  If she asks, “Please have a sip; it is delicious.”  I say, “No thanks; it is not for me.” That is it.  People (drinkers) ask, “How can you do that?”  My answer is simple and always the same.  ”If she asked my to bring her make-up bag to her I would, and never think to use any of it myself!”

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