How much is too much?

It was a jovial Thanksgiving. I made a twenty pound turkey, stuffing, pumpkin and pecan pies. People started arriving around four. We drank wine and champagne. We gave thanks. Some of us stayed up till 2am and played my obsession Mexican Train, a domino game. Judging by the bottles I put into the recycling the next day, we went through a large amount of wine.

But in talking with a therapist yesterday, it seems that perhaps this level of drinking might be a problem. More than three drinks in a night is a problem. Over time, you build up a tolerance and this can lead to full blown alcoholism. I was shocked. Three drinks?

I am not a big drinker. In fact I never drink except in a social situation. But I will admit that when in a social situation I have on occasion had more than three glasses of wine. I have woken up with a headache in the morning. Amongst my friends and family, I am not unusual. And yet.

It has never occurred to me before how much we as a society drink. It seems normal to split a bottle of wine with a friend over dinner. To drink two or three cocktails at a party. A few beers over a game. A relaxer after work.

I took this test and scored more than 8, which is high enough to warrant a call to a doctor according to the test. Really?

And so my eyes are opened, consciousness raised. And that can’t be a bad thing.

2 Comments

  1. annie December 2, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    Went to take the test on a lark and got a 1 but only because I couldn't find an answer for the "how often" that matched me and settled for the closest.

    You don't sound like an alcoholic to me. I grew up with one and knew more than my fair share over the years.

    But if it worries you, then definitely talk to someone who has the necessary experience to put your mind at ease.

    I am the first to admit that my interest in alcohol is about zero and unless someone suggests a glass of wine, I wouldn't think to ask. But my family background and friendships are such that I know most people drink socially as a matter of course and can even drink up to three glasses over the course of an evening out who I wouldn't consider alcoholics.

    When it becomes something you can't take or leave or a daily thing or your family/kids/friends start to be uneasy at the sight of you with a glass in hand – then. Otherwise, I think that social drinking comes and goes in spurts depending on the time of year and the circumstances.

    JMO

  2. BigLittleWolf December 2, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    Fascinating little exercise. I just took the test, was curious.

    I think drinking behaviors are a little more contextual than that quickie test allows for. It's very general. It also dates to 1982. I also found that it bears little resemblance to my pattern of drinking (or the pattern of drinking of Europeans, for example, for whom a glass of wine with a meal is normal).

    I agree that social drinking is sporadic for many of us, and at times, we don't pay attention because it is so sporadic.

    In that test, I (personally) would pay more attention to the clearly "destruction" oriented questions.

    Also, taller / larger people can drink larger quantities than smaller people – which also skews results. One glass of wine may do to me what 3 does to you. That's not accounted for in a quickie test like this either.

    Seems to me the issues are around excess, models for our children, health, safety / accidents, driving (obviously), not remembering what you've done/said or other destructive consequences.

    Interesting topic. And one that probably needs more airing at this time of year, when it's party season for so many. And above all – may NO ONE allow ANYONE to get behind a wheel when they've been drinking. TAKE KEYS. Call cabs. Offer couches. And save lives.

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