GUEST SPEAKER: Lisa Boucher, Author of the Multi-Award Winning book, Raising the Bottom: Making Mindful Choices in a Drinking Culture

Two human skeletons with blue lights in the background.When it comes to booze, how much is too much? I’ve been a guest on a number of podcasts lately and one question was asked more than a few times by various hosts so I thought I’d address it here: How much alcohol is too much?

The short answer: when alcohol impedes your life and your relationships in any way–it’s too much. Still, can I quantify what’s too much? No, I can’t. Instead, I’d like to point out that quantity is only one factor and not the largest one when it comes to determining whether or not a person has a drinking problem. It’s more about what alcohol does to that person when they do drink that’s important to note. How does alcohol impact your emotions, your dreams, your aspirations, your decisions? Can you honestly contemplate the above questions and say, no problem?

Here are a few more questions that you can ask yourself:

  • Do I function poorly when I drink?
  • Is my life comprised of one bad decision after another and in all of the bad decisions alcohol was a factor?
  • Do I have kids, a spouse, family members who complain about my drinking?
  • Do I suffer consequences as a result of my drinking?

The first issue with trying to quantify an amount is that physiologically, we are all different. There is no way to predict exactly how our body will react to alcohol until we ingest alcohol. For example, most of us know someone who drinks heavily and doesn’t seem to have any consequences. Their health seems fine (for now), and their life clips along; perhaps they’ve never suffered consequences as a result of drinking.

Is that person an alcoholic? Or are they just a heavy drinker? It’s hard to say for certain but if they can drink with impunity and they don’t care about the physical harm the alcohol is doing to their body, that person will probably continue to drink. Maybe one day they wake up and decide to stop drinking. A problem drinker is someone who may have consequences from drinking. Physically, they’re not dependent on the alcohol and will not suffer withdrawal symptoms when they do stop drinking.

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