There was a very interesting piece this week in Salon Magazine by Kathleen Volk Miller called ‘Counting My Drinks’. Her mother and sister are both alcoholics, and she is aware that she has a high risk of travelling the same path. This is not something she is prepared to allow to happen, so she tries hard to monitor her intake; the problem is that this is much easier said than done.
Should People at High Risk of Alcoholism Drink Alcohol?
There are plenty of examples of individuals who come from alcoholic families (where at least one member of the family is an alcoholic), yet they are able to drink without ever getting into any trouble. There definitely does seem to be a genetic component to alcohol, but this does not mean that everyone in the family is going to become addicted; no more than having one diabetic in the family is going to mean everyone becomes diabetic.
Having alcoholic parents, grandparents, and siblings does increase the risk of becoming an alcoholic, so it is important to be more careful. There are also going to be plenty of people who have been so traumatised by seeing a relative destroyed by alcohol that they want nothing to do with this substance.
It would be unreasonable to expect individuals who have an alcoholic relative to avoid alcohol. It is more sensible that such people would be more cautious around this drug.
Does Counting Drinks Work?
In the Salon article by Kathleen Volk Miller, she describes coming home drunk after a night out on the town. She is somebody who well knows the dangers of drinking and is committed to not going down the same road, yet she still managed to lose control. This does not mean she is an alcoholic, but it does show that counting drinks is always enough to keep people safe. It is just too easy to be carried away when out by friends and to not pay much attention to how much alcohol is being consumed.
The reality is that the majority of social drinkers do not need to count how much alcohol they are consuming. It is never a problem for them, so they have no need to be constantly counting their drinks. This type of person just would not consider having more than a couple, frequently leaving unfinished drinks behind.
If people need to focus too heavily on counting their drinks then it is usually a sign that they have already developed an alcohol problem. The rule of thumb with this type of thing is that you think you might have an alcohol problem, you almost certainly do.
This is not to say that counting drinks cannot be an effective strategy; it certainly is. Anyone who drinks regularly is encouraged to keep some type of drink journal where he or she can list down the amount they are consuming. This is a great way to drink safely, but it is not necessary for the person who only drinks a couple of times a year.
How to Remain Safe If You Are at High Risk of Alcoholism
The key to remaining a safe drinker is to stick strictly to the recommended levels for alcohol intake. It is also important that you are aware of the symptoms of alcohol dependence and always be on the looking for these. If your worry about becoming an alcoholic is turning into a real issue, the best advice might be to just completely avoid this substance. There is no need to have an alcohol addiction to give up alcohol; most people in the world don’t drink.