(WGGB) — It’s believed 33 percent of all Americans misuse alcohol, resulting in 85,000 deaths each year.
So, how much do you drink?
While you might not be one of the millions of alcoholics in the U.S., you could be one of the millions of “Almost Alcoholics”.
Many think it’s black and white.
“People were either alcoholics, or they weren’t. They had a problem, or they didn’t,” says Harvard Psychiatrist Robert Doyle.
But Doyle believes there’s a big grey area. “We’re seeing alcohol problems as a spectrum,” he adds.
The alcoholism expert is focusing on the zone between normal use and alcoholism diagnosis — the so-called ‘Almost Alcoholic’ range.
Here, the risk of things like insomnia, diabetes and cancer can increase.
“You don’t have to be alcoholic to have major problems with alcohol
“That’s that fuzzy area that’s really hard to define,” says Brenda Wilhelmson.
Wilhelmson believes she was an almost alcoholic. “It turned into a way that I rewarded myself at the end of the day, and it just escalated from there. I was basically drinking myself to sleep every night,” she says.
Wilhelmson can pinpoint the exact moment she crossed the line to full-blown alcoholic. “I could have gone either way that night, and I just went for it.”
Doyle believes millions who become addicted pass through the almost alcoholic phase, and he thinks a lot can stop the problem there.
“We’re not trying to put labels on people. In fact, we’re trying to prevent people from getting the label of a very serious condition,” Doyle says.
Do an honest assessment by asking yourself things like:
- Is alcohol affecting my sleep?
- Do I depend on alcohol to de-stress?
- Am I drinking to help deal with a medical problem?
If you feel you might be heading toward a problem, try cutting back. “If you’re having four beers on Friday night, see how you do with two beers,” Doyle says.
Small changes could make a big difference in where you end up on this spectrum.
“We’re just talking about moving into more responsible and healthy drinking.”
You can click HERE for information on Doyle’s book, “Almost Alcoholic.”
Click HERE to take your own self-assessment of your drinking habits.